The Total Price Tag of a DUI

The price you pay for driving drunk could be far higher — and affect you for far longer — than you’d expect.

We talk a lot about the dangers of drunk driving and rightfully so. Every 2 minutes, somebody is injured in an alcohol-related accident. And, with recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stats revealing that DUI-crash fatalities jumped by 4.6 percent in 2012, the losses sustained by drinking and driving are becoming more prevalent.

Life and injury are not the only things drivers risk when they’ve had one too many. The effects of a DUI will drastically impact your wallet and day-to-day life.

As you’re planning your perfect New Year’s Eve party, check out these 4 reasons to add a few cab numbers to your address book (or download an app like Uber or Lyft) and stay safe this holiday season.

4 things a DUI could cost you

1. Your cash

No secrets here: DUIs are expensive. Although state penalties for drunk driving vary, the average bill (including fines, attorney fees, bail money, DMV fees, insurance increases, and more) will run you a cool $10,000.

Plus, if you live in 1 of the 11 states where interlock devices are mandatory for first-time offenses, you’re also looking at spending another $50 to $200 for device installation, along with a $50 to $100 monthly equipment fee for however long you’re required to have it.

2.  Your license

If you’re caught driving under the influence, it’s likely you won’t be hitting the road again anytime soon. In almost every state (45 states to be exact), getting charged with a DUI means you could be looking at 3 to 6 months of carpooling and ride sharing, possibly more. Think it was irritating to ask your mom for a ride around town as preteen? As an adult, it’s going to be even tougher.

3.  Your job

Remember when we talked about how much a DUI costs? Well, imagine that number, plus your annual salary. Whether we’re talking future or current employment, getting a DUI can absolutely affect your career. In fact, employers in most states are allowed to turn down applicants with any kind of conviction on their record.

Some employers, including ones where applicants will be working with children, senior citizens, or the disabled, or jobs that involve frequent or commercial driving, are far more likely to request (and may even require) a background check.

4.  Your freedom

If losing serious cash, your car, and your job aren’t enough to scare you sober, then spending time behind bars might. For first-time offenders, a night (or a few nights) in jail is not uncommon. If you’ve been convicted of drinking and driving in the past, those few nights can easily turn into months.

And that’s not even the worst-case scenario. If someone was injured or killed as a result of your impaired driving, the overall consequences become far more serious.

Protect yourself and others by planning ahead

Now, I’m not saying you need to quit the holiday cocktails cold turkey. Instead, just plan ahead for your night on the town. Whether that means designating a sober driver, or making plans to split a cab, figuring it out beforehand is always the best policy. In fact, check back tomorrow and we’ll tell you the best ways to take advantage of your city’s free ride programs.

Related links

Is driving hungover worse than driving drunk?
How a DUI affects car insurance premiums
The science of drunk driving
The origins of the designated driver program

21 Responses to “The Total Price Tag of a DUI”

  1. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    January 4, 2014 #

    Having a loved one who spent 6 months behind bars for a second DWI conviction I can say most everything here is correct and current information. The section on job loss sounds a bit overblown though. If employers refused everyone with any prior conviction of anything the pickings would be slim. Usually it's felony convictions that get you turned away from jobs. Most first and second DWIs are not felonies.

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      November 15, 2014 #

      Not in cali

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      November 19, 2014 #

      Personally I feel that at the 1st offense the driving privileges should be revoked for a minimum of 6 months to a year and fine of not less than $1,000.00. This would be for a non accident DUI offense. For an accident involving just property loss of driving privileges for at least 1 – 5 years. For a DUI offense involving bodily injury loss of license permanently, jail time of a minimum of 3 years, fine of a minimum of $10,000.
      For the second offense DUI no property damage – sorry charlie – $15,000 fine, loss of license for life and a 1-5 year jail sentence. For a 2nd DUI offense – Property damage no bodily harm done – $15,000 fine loss of license for life and jail time of 3 – 5 years. For a 2nd DUI with bodily injury – $35,000 fine, loss of license for life, jail time of 5 – 10 years.
      There should be no wiggle room on the sentencing. Driving under the influence is a choice and as such should be treated as such.

  2. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    J. Henddrickson
    January 4, 2014 #

    I can relate very directly to what you are saying. My brother and his wife lived in Carmichael, CA, and went for a walk every afternoon. He was 79 and his wife is 76. Not quite 4 weeks ago a drunk driver hit them both. My brother died from his injuries and cardiac arrest, his heart couldn't take the injuries he suffered. My sister-in-law suffered head injuries, broken ankle, wrist, elbow, and shoulder. Her shoulder was so badly shattered that it had to be replaced. She will recover but her life will never be the same obviously. This happened at about 5:00 in the afternoon by a 55 yr old driving drunk on a nice sunny day. His life will never be the same either. He got out of jail two days later.

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      January 8, 2014 #

      But if ur brother died that drunk driver should be in prison for murder for taking a innocent person life

      • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
        J. Hendrickson
        January 11, 2014 #

        In CA, if he has other DUIs, he could serve 15 years to life in prison. He's 55 yrs old so probably has more. He deserves whatever he gets.

  3. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    Mickey Coe
    January 11, 2014 #

    The entire story was left out: Insurance triples, and most companies drop you completely. A second conviction of DWI within 10 years drops you from insurance so you have to get a special "high risk" policy which costs and unbelievable amount. In NC, if under 21 and you get a DWI, you can't get a license until you are 21! I convicted a 16 year old who got THAT sentence, mouthed off to me in court, so I sent her to federal court where she got a $5000 fine and a suspended 1 year and 1 day sentence (felony). Bottom line is: Is the price of a taxi less than a DWI conviction?

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      November 15, 2014 #

      No it doesn't. It goes up slightly, and that's when they find out. it's only on your record for 3 years, most of the time it takes 18 months before they even find out. The figure is not $10,000 it's more like 5, no jail, license lost for 30 days.

  4. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    Jeffrey Warner
    January 12, 2014 #

    I received a DUI for alcohol in 2009 in California. I do not drink but the officer had me transferred to the hospital where they took blood tests. Being deaf and stating so to the officer he wrote I was incoherent on the citation. My blood showed no alcohol, but it did show my heart medications. I have a pacemaker with a defibrillator. The officer amended the ticket to driving under the influence of prescription drugs. After spending close to $15,000.00 and pleading not guilty, the ADA agreed to reduce my incident to an infraction of running a red light. That cost $204.00. In California any DUI is a felony. I felt partially vindicated but still out $15,000.00. I cannot sue the city or county since I wanted to get the case over. It took two years to get the matter over. It took 8 months to get my drivers record cleared of a DUI and another $1,500.00 in attorney fees. The State records showed I was convicted of a DUI. They did not read the court records that showed all I had was an infraction. My company let me keep driving the company vehicle believing in me. Don't think alcohol is the only thing they can charge you with. Best to not take anything before you drive. I continue to drive while on my heart medications rather than suffer a heart attack or stroke.
    Diabetics face this with insulin. They are damned if they take it and damned if they don't.

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      June 28, 2014 #

      Definitely a travesty of justice. California prosecutors are similar to other prosecutors around the US. Sounds like your case should have been dismissed very early on; however, your attorney milked you, along with the complicity of the prosecutor.

  5. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    January 22, 2014 #


  6. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    February 1, 2014 #

    Justin Beiber will not get a day in jail cause his money can get him out of his mess he created for himself.I bet you the judge will give him a slap on the hand where as anyone of us who do not break the law would have to go to jail I am an american not from canada and do not have alot of money to get me out of trouble if I brought it upon myself but the movie stars just snub their noses at the law like they do not care it isn't right for them to get special treatment just because they have money he wil get one of his yes men to take the blame for rasing which could have taken another ones life but watch come Feb14th he will serve no time and pay his way out of it he should grow up and stop trying to be a wanna be.

  7. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    Robert Garnett
    March 27, 2014 #

    On the first offence, for DUI or DWI, the offender needs to under go a serious substance re-education program. What people do not realize is the first drink is the easiest to say NO to. Every drink lowers a persons judgment and inhibitions. By the time they get behind the wheel, they are in no condition to make a life changing decision.

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      November 15, 2014 #

      Serious substance re-education? Lol. The programs are a joke and a cash grab. DUI is no big deal and only costs about $4,000. The whole thing is a cash grab.

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      November 15, 2014 #

      Blah blah blah. For an older man who has a tolerance to alcohol to be busted for .08 is a joke. That's like going to dinner and having three beers.

  8. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    John Curtin
    March 28, 2014 #

    Also. A DWI or DUI will appear on the Customs Officers computer if you plan on going into Canada. Most of the time , you will be asked to turn around and return to the U.S. immediately. They don't want our problems on thier streets

  9. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    DUI Lawyer Athens Ga
    September 15, 2014 #

    your reputation as well… which will follow you for life!

    • Avatar for Jennifer Wood
      November 15, 2014 #

      Reputation? No one passes judgrment cuz we have all have a few drinks and driven. DUI is a moneymaker for the city, county, state.

  10. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    October 2, 2014 #

    DUI in ca is not a felony, it's a misdemeanor and traveling to Canada is not an issue…they ask u for your passport and then waive u through…I've had a DUI and have travelled to Canada extensively without issue….

  11. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    Evan Guthrie
    December 19, 2014 #

    Good information. A DUI is an expensive ordeal. It is better to be safe and not risk your money or the safety of others.

  12. Avatar for Jennifer Wood
    Elizabeth warfield
    February 3, 2015 #

    I want to win 1,000.00 feb14th

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