Friday, October 4, 2013

The financial costs of a DUI conviction

Whenever a person gets charged with a DUI they face some fixed costs.  The cost of the Attorney fees, an alcohol/drug assessment, and at minimum the cost of the ADIS and VIP classes.  These will not change whether the DUI charge gets reduced to either a Negligent Driving 1, or a Reckless Driving or whether the person gets convicted of a DUI.  However a DUI conviction carries much more in additional costs that are often overlooked or simply not known.  Here are the top 5 hidden costs that come with a DUI conviction.

  1. Probation:  This is probably one of the biggest costs.  If a defendant gets convicted of a DUI.  Whether it is a first offense or a second in most cases a Judge is going to refer the defendant to the probation department.  In addition to that the defendant will be on records check for the duration of the 5 years of probation.  The cost of a probation officer is usually about $40 a month.  Typically this will last for 2 years.  The cost of the records check is $10 a month.  Total cost $1560.
  2. Ignition interlock device: This is the other biggie when it comes to a DUI in Seattle.  On a first offense DUI the Court will impose an ignition interlock device.  This will need to be installed on any vehicle the defendant drivers for a period of 1 year.  Most ignition interlock companies charge around $100 a month for the device.  There is also an installation fee, and monthly calibration fees.  The cost of an ignition interlock device for 1 year is approximately $2000.
  3. Court fines: The base Court fine on a DUI is between $1000-$1200 depending on the blood alcohol level.  
  4. Insurance increase: A DUI carries two types of insurance increases.  The first is the requirement of SR22 insurance that comes with any sort of drivers license suspension.  On a first offense DUI in Seattle or Washington State SR 22 insurance is required for at least 3 years.  I have seen this cost vary depending on the driver, who they go through for insurance, etc.  But I would say on average it is an additional $50 a month on top of your regular insurance policy.  The second increase would be on your insurance policy.  That is if your insurance company doesn't kick you off.  Which I would say happens about 90% of the time.  Estimated cost is an additional $200 a policy term.  
  5. Unknown costs: These are the costs that you cannot possibly know at the time of the DUI sentencing.  For example let say you want to rent a vehicle in the near future following a DUI conviction.  Well most car companies are not going to rent you that vehicle.  The unknown cost would be figuring out an alternative to renting a vehicle.  Maybe it is cab fares, maybe a town car with a driver is rented.  This is just an example.  The cost of this unknown fees can be astronomical and are far too numerous to discuss on this blog, but you get the hint. 
Overall if you're facing a DUI charge in Seattle then you should be well aware of the importance of hiring a good DUI Attorney to get the charge dismissed or reduced.  Even spending $5000-$7500 on a DUI Attorney may seem like a lot of dough.  But when you compare it to all the hidden costs for the rest of your life you will be facing, I think it is money well spent.  Otherwise if you want to go the cheap route then there are plenty of so called DUI Attorneys in Seattle who will take your case for $1000 and get you to plead guilty at the first chance they get.  

About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Lawyer in the Seattle Bellevue area of Western WA.  His practice focuses on representing those charged with DUI and other traffic related offenses.  He is currently rated as a Superb DUI Attorney by Avvo, and a Rising Star in DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine and Seattle Met Magazine, an honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive. 

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