Average Cost of First and Second DUI’s
Driving while drunk is dangerous for the driver and for everyone else on or near the road. In fact, when driving with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at or above the legal limit set by most states, a fatal crash is at least eleven times more likely than while driving sober. That likelihood can be up to forty-eight times greater as BAC increases.
Law enforcement agencies and legislators take those risks very seriously. Laws and enforcement policies have been enacted all across the country to make the consequences of being caught driving while impaired far outweigh the minor inconveniences of calling a cab or having a designated driver. Many states have also adopted even more severe consequences for repeat offenders.
Let’s use three states—Arizona, New York, and Washington—as examples of the consequences and expenses one can expect after first and second DUI convictions across the United States.
In Arizona, the most severe consequences a driver will face for a first-time DUI conviction is thirty days in jail, a fine of $2500, court mandated substance abuse treatment programs and ignition interlock devices (IIDs), and community service. For a second DUI in Arizona, a driver can face more than 120 days in jail, a fine of $3250, loss of driving privileges for a year, court mandated substance abuse treatment programs and IIDs, and community service.
A first-time DUI conviction in New York can be met with up to a year in jail, a fine of $2500, suspension of the driver’s license for up to a year, and court mandated driving education programs. A second DUI may earn a driver up to four years in jail, a fine of $5000, suspension of the driver’s license for at least eighteen months, and court mandated driving education programs.
Washington’s penalties for a first-time DUI can include up to one year in jail, a fine of $5000, revocation of the driver’s license for a year, and court mandated IIDs and substance abuse treatment programs. If convicted of a second DUI in Washington, a driver can face a year in jail, a fine of $5000, loss of driving privileges for 900 days (nearly two and a half years), and court mandated substance abuse treatment programs and IIDs.
The exact costs of a first and second DUI are difficult to quantify, and they will vary from state to state, driver to driver; however, a list of common expenses billed to the wallets of convicted drivers gives us a sense of how costly DUIs can be:
- Attorney’s fees
- Court-ordered fines
- Increases in car insurance premiums
- Traffic school / substance abuse treatment
- DMV fees (e.g. license reinstatement fees)
- Towing and storage fees
- Loss of income while in jail, possible job loss with revocation of driving privileges
Bear in mind that, so far, the costs discussed assume no crash and no injuries or fatalities. Additional consequences and costs to consider in the event of a crash:
- Property damages
- Hospital fees
- Funeral fees
- Manslaughter or vehicular homicide charges
There are also social and emotional costs that cannot be quantified in terms of money. Ostracization, shame, and guilt may not be hard on a driver’s finances, but they are real costs that can affect a driver’s quality of life for years after the DUI incident.
When it comes to drinking and driving, save lives, save money, and stay off the road. Hire a cab, sleep in your vehicle, or walk home, but don’t make a decision you may regret for the rest of your life.