The Cost of a DUI in the Mountain State
When it comes to drinking and driving, the laws are the same throughout the state of West Virginia – those found to be driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or more in Charleston, Huntington, Morgantown, Wheeling, Martinsburg, or any other city in the state will be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). West Virginia uses a number of different penalties to punish those convicted of DUI including jail time, fines, and license suspensions.
What Penalties Will I Face for DUI in West Virginia?
As mentioned, the state of West Virginia uses a number of different types of penalties to punish those found guilty of DUI. First time DUI offenders in West Virginia face the following penalties after they have been convicted:
- Jail Time of Up to Six Months
- Fines of $100 to $1,000
- License Suspension of 15 to 45 Days
- Possibility of Having to Use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
West Virginia DUI follows a 10 year “lookback period,” which means any previous DUI offenses within the last 10 years rate the current infraction as a repeat offense. Repeat DUI offenders in West Virginia, as in most other states, face harsher penalties as a means to further discourage drinking and driving. Second time DUI offenders in this state face the following penalties after they have been convicted:
- Jail Time of Six to 12 Months
- Fines of $1,000 to $3,000
- License Suspension of One Year
- Required Use of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
What Drinking and Driving Will Cost You Before Conviction
While fines are one part of the financial repercussions of DUI, there are more expenses individuals face as a result of drinking and driving that can incur before they go to court. When individuals are stopped and arrested for suspicion of DUI, their vehicle is most often towed to the local impound lot, unless the arresting officer allows someone else to pick up the car. Whenever offenders are able to get their car from impound, they need to pay towing fees as well as the fees incurred while the vehicle was impounded. This could range in cost between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars.
Once individuals have been arrested, they are most often taken to jail to be formally charged and processed. Most often individuals are released when they sober up and then given a court date for when they need to appear. However, should there be aggravated circumstances surrounding the incident, such as causing an accident, having a high BAC, or having a minor present in the vehicle, it is very possible that individuals to be booked into the jail with bail set for their release. Bail for aggravated DUI can range in price and often depends on the severity of the incidents that occurred.
Most individuals charged with DUI should seek the legal advice of an attorney who is well versed in DUI law. Hiring an attorney can be expensive, but it is important for individuals to keep in mind that their attorney’s legal expertise can help to possibly have the charges reduced or the case dismissed depending on the circumstances. All attorneys have outlined their own specific fee that they charge for their services, and this cost ranges greatly between a few hundred dollars to upwards of a few thousand dollars, or even more.
What Drinking and Driving Will Cost You After Conviction
Should individuals be found guilty of DUI, they are then subject to the fines and penalties associated with this crime. First time offenders in the state of West Virginia have to pay a fine between $100 and $1,000 – second time offenders pay between $1,000 and $3,000 and third time offenders between $3,000 and $5,000.
Effects to Car Insurance Premiums After DUI
After being convicted of DUI, another financial repercussion individuals may not consider is the increase to their car insurance premiums. Car insurance providers charge policy holders a premium in order to cover the risk of them making a claim. Essentially, the higher the risk of the policy holder making a claim, the higher their premium payments are and vice versa. Since DUI exhibits risky behavior, it should not be surprising that policy holders’ premiums increase after their conviction, but the question remains as to how much.
In the state of West Virginia, car insurance providers are more lenient than other states when it comes to punishing those convicted of DUI. On average, offenders’ car insurance premiums increase by around 60 percent, which adds approximately $70 to their monthly payment. It is important to keep in mind, however, that these figures vary greatly between car insurance providers and also greatly vary between different states in the country.
How You Can Avoid the Financial Repercussions of DUI
Based on the expenses outlined here, it is possible for individuals convicted of DUI to pay upwards, if not more than, $40,000 for their drinking and driving mistake. It is important to note that this figure does not include other expenses, such as lost wages, the cost of public transportation, and the fees for having a driver’s license reinstated. Drinking and driving is not just a financially costly mistake, it is also extremely dangerous – Driving Under the Influence not only puts drivers’ lives at risk, but also their passengers and other drivers. The best way to avoid the cost and danger of drinking and driving is to simply not do it.
Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.