Managing DUI/DWI Costs: Financial Tips & Strategies

Feb 28, 2024

Would you like to guess how much money an average DUI/DWI conviction will cost you? The price goes far beyond the immediate costs of the fines and lawyer fees. A DUI or DWI conviction will have long-term and far-reaching financial impacts for years into the future. 

In this article, we will discuss the most common costs of a DUI, some things you can do to minimize the financial impact of a DUI, and how you can recover after a DUI/DWI. If you have been arrested for DUI, but your case is still pending, hopefully you will have time to read this article before you accrue the costs of a DUI conviction because a conviction will have a lasting impact on your finances and your future. 

The potential cost of a DUI conviction can be overwhelming, but it can also be a motivator to hire the best line of defense for your case!

Understanding The Financial Impact Of A DUI/DWI

It’s important to fully understand the full financial impact of a DUI/DWI arrest before considering any cost-saving approaches. Having knowledge of the potential costs and charges may even help you avoid the DUI/DWI altogether. 

Below are some of the most common financial effects of a DUI and a range of costs and charges associated with a DUI. The amounts will vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case, but they should give you a general idea of the potential overall costs you are, or could be facing.

  • Tow/Impound – about $150 plus impound chargers of upwards of $100 per day
  • Bail- $100-$5000 depending on the severity of the charges and other factors
  • Court fines and fees – $2000-$5000 depending on the severity of the charges and jurisdiction
  • Attorney– $2000-$5000 and more if the case goes to trial (which is generally less than 5% of cases)
  • DMV- $200-$500 to reinstate your suspended license
  • Insurance – An average of 53% increase (to as high as 93%) in insurance rates for a minimum of three years. On a $2400/yr policy, at the average rate increase, it would cost an additional $1272/yr and $3816 over 3 years. Some states have a longer minimum period before rates decrease to normal.
  • Lost Wages – This varies based on your job and time off. This will impact employment. Many employers screen applicants for criminal records and reject those with them. If you lose your job, you may have trouble obtaining one or have to take a lower-paying one.
  • Ignition Interlock Device – $150 installation fee plus an average monthly fee of  approximately $100 for a minimum of 3-6 months.

As you can see, the monetary costs can add up rather quickly. If you are lucky, you may have to pay somewhere between $5000-$10000—if you are lucky. If you are not so lucky, you may have to pay much more. 

The cost of a good attorney may seem expensive at first glance, but the cost of not having one could be much, much higher. If they are able to have your charges dismissed or reduced, you may only have to pay a fraction of the cost of a DUI conviction, saving you thousands of dollars

Reducing DUI/DWI Expenses: Tips And Strategies

If you have recently been charged with DUI/DWI, there are some important steps you can take to help reduce your costs with effective DUI/DWI defense strategies. Making an informed decision and being proactive can help mitigate this difficult situation. The following steps can help you find a proper line of defense for your case:

Negotiating Plea Deals

Have your attorney request a plea bargain, with an admission of guilt, from the prosecutor in exchange for a lesser offense for which penalties and fines will be reduced. Every state and jurisdiction has its own rules for plea bargains. Your attorney may also advise you against this if they are confident they can win your case or get it dismissed without you having to plea! 

Attending Alcohol Education Programs

Complete an alcohol education program that demonstrates to the court that you are committed to proper treatment of any issues underlying your drinking behavior and have access to ongoing support. Such programs are often provided by state-of-community alcohol treatment organizations or court-appointed alcohol treatment centers and also benefit your personal growth. Completing these courses often helps reduce fines and shorten probationary periods.

Exploring Alternative Sentencing Options

Some jurisdictions allow for diversionary sentences that require an alternative to jail time, such as a rehabilitation program for specific substance abuse offenses to help you stop repeating the same crime, or the completion of community service projects so that, instead of paying fines, you can pay your debt by giving back to the community in the form of service.

Carefully Selecting A Lawyer

Selecting a DUI/DWI attorney is crucial for minimizing expenses and navigating the legal process effectively. To begin, research prospective attorneys by visiting their websites and utilizing attorney directories for resources. Consulting with a qualified attorney who is familiar with both your state’s blood alcohol content per se laws and unique DUI/DWI laws will help determine the best course of action for your specific situation. Depending on the circumstances and severity of your charges, viable defenses, such as dismissals, plea deals, first offender programs, or deferred prosecutions, may be possible. 

Remember, you are not alone in this process. Attorneys that focus on DUI/DWI cases are committed to winning your case and achieving a favorable outcome. If you are staring down the barrel of a DUI in Illinois or Missouri call Michael Reid Legal Solutions and learn how we can help you lessen the impact of your DUI arrest and get your life back on track.

Demonstrating Financial Hardship

If you are facing significant financial hardship due to the fines associated with your DUI/DWI conviction, it is crucial to communicate this to the court. Providing documentation that supports your financial struggles, such as bank statements, bills, and other relevant documentation, can help demonstrate your inability to pay the full fines. This may lead to a reduction or an alternative payment arrangement.

It is important to consult with legal counsel to understand the specific requirements and options available in your jurisdiction.

Budgeting For DUI/DWI Consequences: Practical Approaches

Although your monthly charges will undoubtedly increase as a consequence of a DUI/DWI arrest or conviction, you can manage your regular monthly expenses effectively and take care of your financial obligations with careful budgeting. There are many apps available to assist with budgeting, and managing your finances, or you can consult with a financial advisor to help you develop a plan.

It’s important to understand the full cost of your DUI/DWI conviction, considering legal fees, fines, and court-appointed programs, as well as the additional insurance premiums you’ll pay, and the wages you’ll lose if you can’t drive to work. Once you know the various costs involved, put them into a budget and fund the expenses. 

It’s a good idea to prioritize your spending by organizing your expenses into those that are necessary, such as housing, transportation, and utilities, and those that are optional, such as entertainment or eating out. Any future vacations may have just turned into staycations for the near future.

Cutting your spending can be difficult, but it is only part of the budgeting equation. You should also consider increasing your income by taking on a second job, or selling items you no longer use to make some extra cash. Earning more money can help you pay off your new debt faster,  give you the opportunity to pay off the DUI/DWI arrest, and help you get back on your feet faster.

Consider MRLS For Your DUI Defense

If you are looking for an easy way to avoid the financial impact of being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you might be sorely disappointed. There will be a cost for your actions, but you could drastically lessen that cost if you are able to work with an experienced DUI lawyer. Typically, they are successful in having charges reduced or dropped, which can greatly impact the handling of your case and your ability to go forward with your life.

If you need a DUI/DWI lawyer in Illinois, call Michael Reid Legal Solutions today and allow us to show you how we can help you lessen the impact of your DUI arrest and get your life back on track.