The True Cost of a DUI Conviction


Posted about 6 years ago. 21 helpful votes


Many of the legal consequences of a DUI conviction are well known: Jail, fines, suspension and the revocation of driving privileges. But DUI is an iceberg, and its vast bulk lies hidden from view. The unspoken costs of a DUI conviction can range from freedom to money to the very right to travel.


Strictly legal consequences of conviction

As states have cracked down on drunk driving, legislators have found that there is much to gain and nothing to lose by "piling on" to the intoxicated driver. Hardly a year goes by without legislators finding some new way to grab headlines by adding additional sanctions to DUI convictions. In this way, the penalties get ratcheted up year-by-year, but never go back down. In the past ten years, most states have added the following terms as mandatory conditions of a DUI conviction:


Recently added consequences

In the past ten years, most states have added the following terms as mandatory conditions of a DUI conviction:1. DUI School. Many states require a short (12 to 100 hour) course on alcohol and substance abuse. The cost of this school may be from $200 to $600, and if you show up for the class under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be dismissed from the course and have to pay the fee and begin the course again.2. Victim Impact Panel. Another common DUI sanction is attendance at a "Victim Impact Panel." This is a sobering meeting with the victims of drunk drivers or the families of victims. 3. Ignition Interlock. This is a portable breathalyzer which attaches to your vehicle and prevents the car from starting unless you test under .02 blood alcohol.4. Community Service. Many states require from 20 to 100 hours of community service for a DUI conviction.5. Alcohol Monitoring-This can either be random urinalysis, a SCRAM ankle bracelet which monitors the alcohol in your perspiration, or a Personal Alcohol Monitor, which snaps your photograph as you blow into a portable breath tester.


The costs involved

Estimated Costs. - Attorney Fees $ 1500 to $ 15,000 or more for jury trial or appeal. --Fines and Court Fees $ 515 to $ 8,125. --Civil Suits unlimited. --Electronic Home Monitoring $ 150 to $ 2,250 or more. --Time Lost from Work for Court, Programs and Community Service $ 750 to $10,000. --License Reinstatement Fee $ 150. --Ignition Interlock $ 730 to $ 2,800 or more. Alcohol Treatment $ 1,500 to $ 20,000. --Insurance $ 1,800 to $4,500 additional premium over three years. --Towing charges $50 to $250


The Total is $7,145 to $65,725 or More

There are other consequences of a DUI conviction which involve more than mere money. Many automobile rental agencies will not want your business after you are convicted. If you are convicted, you may not be able to obtain life insurance at any price. In addition, many health insurance companies will "rate" you, charge you an extra premium, although after passage of the Affordable Care Act, they cannot deny you coverage. A DUI conviction may even prevent you from traveling to some countries. Many countries will refuse entry to anyone with a criminal record. In some countries, this restriction is limited to felonies. But some, including Canada, count ALL criminal convictions, including DUI as a basis for exclusion from the country.


George W. Bush learned the hard way

When President Bush took office in January 2001, there was a serious question whether he would be permitted to travel to Canada without special diplomatic permission, due to his 1976 DUI conviction from Maine.The above facts are just part of a trend. The future undoubtedly holds even tougher sanctions for DUI convictions, including higher fines and costs, and mandatory jail in many states. If you are arrested for DUI, the additional cost of having an attorney who has specialized training may more than pay for itself, if it means fighting the charge and avoiding a conviction.

Additional Resources

For more information about getting from the U.S. into Canada after a DUI conviction, consult a Canadian immigration lawyer, or go to the website of the Canadian Embassy here:

The Hudson Law Office

The National College for DUI Defense

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The definition, charges, and penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) vary by state and depend on a number of factors.

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