There are a lot of reasons not to drink and drive. You put yourself and other people on the road in serious danger. You could face criminal charges. You could lose your ability to drive.
In many ad campaigns trying to stop people from drinking and driving, the focus is on the high costs of a DUI conviction. But driving under the influence is a misdemeanor in Florida – so how bad can it be?
As it turns out, a DUI conviction can cost you thousands of dollars. This includes charges for court-ordered penalties as well as long-term charges such as increased insurance premiums.
Charges can be direct (like fines issued by the court) or indirect (like the rideshares you will need to call now that your license is suspended). So while we cannot provide an exact number, we do know that a DUI conviction will cause a heavy hit to your budget.
Let’s break down some of the common (financial) charges associated with a DUI conviction.
Fines ($500 – $5,000): If you are convicted of DUI in Florida, sentencing guidelines dictate that you should be charged a fine of between $500 and $1,000 if no additional aggravating factors were present in your case. Those aggravating factors, however, can drive up your cost quite a bit.
If your blood alcohol content was at .15% at the time of your arrest, or you were driving while a minor was in the car with you, the maximum fine can be increased to $2,000. If your driving caused “serious bodily injury,” your fines can be increased to $5,000.
License Suspension ($120): Often, a DUI conviction is accompanied by the suspension of your license for six months to a year. Not being able to drive is bad enough, but many people don’t realize that there are also fees associated with both the suspension and the revocation of your driver’s license. These add up to around $120.
That doesn’t sound too bad. However, there are additional costs not directly associated with license suspension: you may have to pay extra for the storage of your car, for public transportation and rideshares, and you may face financial losses related to not being able to drive a car to and from work. And if you decide to drive anyway and get caught, things can get really bad.
DUI Classes ($260): After a DUI conviction, you may be required to take a 12-hour educational course dedicated to alcohol and safety education. These courses include videos, lectures, discussions, and so on, and often are accompanied by an interview or evaluation held by a certified professional. Classes can be completed online or in-person.
The cost for an online class given by the Florida Safety Council is $260, but that does not include the time you may have to take off work to complete 12 hours worth of education.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID) ($225): Judges are not required to penalize first-time offenders with an ignition interlock device, but if certain aggravating factors are present in your case, you may have to have one installed for up to six months.
Ignition interlock devices are installed in your car and require you to take a breath test every time you want to go for a drive. Not only are they a pain, they also come with additional monthly fees.
Loss of Income: This is where estimates get really tricky, and depend on your current financial status. DUI convictions can be penalized by between six to nine months in jail. In that time, you can lose a significant amount of income.
Many jobs will let employees go after a DUI conviction, but even if you are still employed through your jail sentence, you won’t have a way to make an income. On top of that, finding a good-paying job becomes harder once you have a DUI on your record and have served jail time.
Towing and Impoundment Fees: For your first DUI conviction, your car will be impounded or immobilized for 10 days (if you are serving time in jail after your conviction, the 10 days begins after you are released). Getting your car back and storing it while your license is suspended comes with extra fees.
Insurance Premiums: The increase you will see on your insurance premiums after a DUI conviction will vary depending on your plan, location, and any other similar incidents you have on your record. Contact your insurance provider and discuss different options that they give insurance holders after they receive a DUI conviction.
Do not be surprised if a conviction results in thousands of dollars added on to your premium. Having this mark on your record often makes you a “high-risk driver.”
With all of these potential expenses, it may seem like a good idea not to hire a DUI attorney to save money. But that’s taking a very narrow view. Without a skilled DUI lawyer, you are almost guaranteed to be convicted. With their help, though, you are far more likely to get your charges reduced, dropped, or dismissed. Not only is that money well-spent, it should end up saving you quite a bit in the long run.
About the Author:
Attorney David W. Olson is the founder of the Law Offices of David W. Olson in West Palm Beach. He has been practicing criminal law and successfully representing clients throughout the State of Florida for over 30 years. Throughout his legal career, Mr. Olson has been honored numerous times for both his dedication and excellence in criminal law. He proudly holds the Martindale-Hubbell AV Rating, as well as being recognized as a Top 100 Trial Lawyer (2013), in the Nation’s Top One Percent of attorneys (2015), and as a 10 Best Member of the American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys (2015). He has even received commendations from members of congress and other public officials for the fantastic work that he’s done. Mr. Olson graduated from the University of Florida’s Fredric G. Levin College of Law in 1981 and has been a member of the Florida Bar since 1983.