When people think about a DUI, they often think more in terms of the stigma attached. Getting a DUI might make people assume you have an uncontrollable drinking problem, that you’re irresponsible, or that you make bad decisions.
It can affect your job and your home life. And it will really take a bite out of your wallet. In fact, most people don’t understand how expensive it will be.
Below are some factors that contribute to how much the average DUI costs when it’s all said and done.
Your Charge Depends on Your Previous Violations
You’re charged with a DUI if you are pulled over and your blood alcohol contact (BAC) is .08 or higher. A DUI charge is a misdemeanor for the first few offenses. If, however, it is your fourth offense, you will be charged with a fourth degree felony.
How Much Does a DUI Cost?
1. A bail fee
When you’re pulled over and charged with a DUI, you will obviously not be permitted to get back in your car and drive home. Instead, the police officer will book you and put you in jail. In Colorado, it is possible to avoid jail through the following options:
- You might be permitted to post bail to get out early, but exactly how much is bail for a DUI? It could be a couple hundred or even a couple thousand. A bail bondsman will likely charge you a fraction of the bail fee, which can still be several hundred dollars in the end.
- You could be released to a sober party who comes to pick you up. While this option doesn’t cost anything upfront, you might get charged later in court, through costs of prosecution or restitution.
- You may be released on summons after going to through a detoxification program. But detox could run you $600 or more for your stay.
2. A booking fee
Whether it is your first offense or your fourth, the state of Colorado can impose jail time on you. First offenders can be sentenced to anywhere from 5 days to a year in a county jail. Often, this sentence can be suspended for certain circumstances, but it’s up to the court’s discretion.
If you’re looking at jail time, you may also be facing a booking fee. Many county jails have started imposing these fees for all inmates they book. It may not be much – maybe $30 or so – but it’s one of many fees that will add up in the end.
There are alternatives to jail, such as a work-release program or in-home detention. These options, however, don’t save you money – they can cost you around $11 per day for the entire period of your sentence.
3. The DUI fine
So, how much is a DUI ticket? A first offense DUI comes with a fine of at least $600, and may be as much as $1,000. But that’s not all – the court will likely tack on court costs, as well as a number of other DUI fines known as penalty surcharges. These surcharges can go to:
- The Victim Assistance Fund
- The Victim Impact Panel Fund
- The Victim Compensation Fund
- The Law Enforcement Assistance Fund
- The PDD Surcharge Fee
- The Brain Injury Fund Fee
The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) gives a total average cost of over $500 just for these surcharge fees.
Every DUI conviction carries with it a probation time frame. First-time offenders could get up to two years’ probation. Along with probation may come probation supervision fees, which can run from $600 to $1,200.
5. Attorney’s fees
If you decide to hire a private attorney to represent you, your case may run much smoother, but it’ll cost you. How much does a DUI lawyer cost? That depends on whether you want someone who has extensive experience fighting DUI charges, or you just want someone who will show up.
So how much does a good DUI lawyer cost? Attorney’s fees can vary, but don’t be surprised that you need to write a check for several thousand dollars to cover them.
6. DUI classes
Often, you can avoid jail time if you agree to take drug and alcohol counseling classes. Not only do these classes take up a good amount of your time, they will also probably take some green from your wallet. Counseling costs money, and it’s you that will get the bill.
That being said, how much are DUI classes? Again, the cost for these classes vary depending on where you live, but count on coughing up a couple hundred dollars for them.
7. Ignition interlock device rental
Many offenders are ordered by the DMV to install an ignition interlock device in their cars if they lose their license in an alcohol-related driving conviction or under the state’s express consent law. This device is like a breathalyzer – it requires the driver to blow into it before the car can be started.
Rental fees for the ignition interlock device can run from $480 to nearly $1,500.
After a DUI, you are required to get special insurance, known as an SR-22. The actual increase will depend on many factors – your age, driving record, and number of offenses, for example – but it could mean that the average cost of insurance after a DUI could go up several thousand dollars more each year.
If that happens, count yourself lucky – some car insurance companies will see your DUI and decide they can no longer insure you at all.
9. Towing and storing your car
When you’re put in jail, your car will have to be towed and impounded at the police station’s lot. How long it’s there depends on whether you have a valid license and whether or not you can afford impound fees.
CDOT’s average tow is $143 and an impound fee is about $30-50 per day. If you lose your driver’s license for several months, your costs will rack up immensely.
10. License reinstatement fees
A DUI conviction means your license will likely be suspended for a period of time. After your suspension is lifted, you will need to go to the DMV to see about getting your license reinstated. The DMV will charge a reinstatement fee of $95, but that may not be all you pay.
If, for example, you need to get a new license or get yours renewed, you will pay those fees on top of the reinstatement fee. Also, make sure you’ve paid all your DUI fines and courts costs first – the court may still consider you under suspension if you owe them money, no matter if the required time period for your license suspension has passed or not.
The Nonmonetary Costs of a DUI
The CDOT puts the average cost of a first DUI at a little over $10,000. But even that staggering figure does not compare to the ultimate cost of a DUI.
There’s more to just how much are DUI fines. It could mean losing your life or taking the life of another in an alcohol-related crash. If you are fortunate enough not to cause an accident or hurt others, you will still pay in ways that don’t have a price tag:
- Taking time off from your job because you’re in jail or have to finish your community service or need to attend an alcohol treatment class could result in you getting fired
- Loss of your car and driving privileges makes it more difficult for you to get around. You’ll be forced to bum rides or shell out more money for the bus or an Uber
- A DUI conviction follows you everywhere: Many job applications require you to disclose it, even if it is a misdemeanor and your first offense. It can hurt your chances of getting another job, especially if you work in a field where you need to drive a lot
How a Colorado DUI Attorney Can Help
As you can see, even a first DUI conviction can carry a lot of costs and problems. If you’re facing DUI charges, it may be a good idea to contact a DUI attorney to help with your case. The experienced attorneys at Geman Criminal Defense have helped countless residents of Denver and Boulder with their DUI charges. Call us at (303) 357-3035 or email us to see what we can do for you.