There are a number of factors to consider when you’ve been charged with DWI, and even more with a conviction. The safety of yourself and others, the possible damages caused, and the possibility of spending time in jail is avoidable by calling an Uber or a taxi for $20 or so and parking your car.
But there’s one part of getting a DWI that most people don’t consider: how much it will cost.
Your license is immediately revoked if there is a blood alcohol content of 0.08 or higher. You’ll lose your license for 30 days, just for being charged with DWI. You can request a limited driving privilege after 10 days, which will cost $100, plus whatever it costs you to get to work for ten days (if you still have a job.)
You will also be required to complete a substance abuse assessment costing $100, and you’ll need a certified copy of your driving record, about $15.00. If you’re approved for the privilege, you’ve spent $215 to drive for 19 days out of 30. Since it’s a criminal charge, you’re required to appear in court.
If you hire an attorney, that will also cost—a minimum of $500, but probably more than $2,500. Attorney’s fees will also vary depending on variables such as your first charge or a subsequent charge, such as if any property damage occurred, or if anyone was injured or killed as a result.
If your charges are dismissed, that’s the end of it. But if you’re headed for trial, it’s going to get a lot more expensive.
Depending on the type of job you have, you could be terminated after the arrest, especially if you hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL.) Not only will you lose your income, but you will also have a difficult time finding another job with a DUI.
The Trial And Conviction
Going to trial for DWI means there is a strong chance of not only conviction but jail time.
North Carolina has five levels of DWI charges, with Level 5 being the lowest and Level 1 being the highest, with the highest punishment, fees, and license revocation. Fines alone start at $200 and go as high as $4,000 just for the DWI. An aggravated Level I felony can be as high as $10,000 in fines. You’ll also owe additional court costs.
After A Conviction
In addition to or instead of jail time, you may be able to perform community service, at a cost of $250. You’ll also be required to complete substance abuse treatment, the cost of which is determined by the agency and can be as high as $800 to $1,000.
You’ll also have to complete the Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School, which will also cost about $260. Additionally, monthly post-conviction substance abuse assessments cost $100.
If you want to regain your driving privileges, you’ll also have to pay to get your license restored, which can run upwards of $300.
Before you can start driving again, there’s also the matter of car insurance. You’ll find that you can get an insurance policy, but it will be considerably more expensive. Most drivers find their insurance increases an average of 400% after a DUI.
One more thing—you’ll be required to have an ignition interlock system installed on your car before you can drive again. This system requires you to blow into it, just like a breathalyzer, before you can start your vehicle. You’ll also be required to stop and “blow” again during your drive to continue driving. If at any time the system detects alcohol, you won’t be able to drive. Purchase and installation run between $2,000 and $4,000, with monthly maintenance at about $100 per month.
Other Costs of DWI
If you caused property damage while driving intoxicated, such as hitting someone’s car or house, you will also find yourself on the receiving end of a personal injury suit from the other party (or wrongful death if someone died as a result of the accident.) You may be sued by the other party for medical expenses, lost and future wages, pain, and suffering, and other compensatory damages, and you’ll be responsible for them. A wrongful death lawsuit, filed by the relatives the person who died in the accident, can also end up with a large monetary settlement you’ll have to pay. These expenses can’t be dismissed in a bankruptcy, either. If you own property, such as a house, a lien can be placed on the property until you pay it.
When you add it up, avoiding a DWI by taking a bus, or calling either a taxi, Uber, or a friend to pick you up is a lot less expensive.
DWI Is Expensive
Getting arrested for DWI can cost more than just money—you could do prison time, in addition to losing your job, your home, and your rights. A DWI will also follow you around for the rest of your life, no matter where you live. Having a DWI defense attorney does cost money, but can save you a lot more, including your freedom and your rights.
Dewey P. Brinkley is a former Wake County prosecutor who works to defend DWI cases. He will prepare a strong defense and make sure you receive a fair trial under the law. Contact our Raleigh law office today at (919) 832-0307 (or user our online contact form) for a free consultation. You can also email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.