How a DUI Conviction Will Affect Your Finances
Most often, when we think about the consequences of being convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) we worry about the immediate penalties. Depending on the state in which the charge and conviction takes place, most individuals face losing their license, possibly serving jail time, having to use an Ignition Interlock Device, and taking alcohol education classes. While the immediate financial penalties are also a cause for concern, many people do not take them as seriously as they should.
The state of Colorado does not only enforce DUI, which is triggered by a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of 0.08 percent or higher, it also has what is called “Driving While Ability Impaired” (DWAI), which is triggered by a BAC of between 0.05 percent and 0.079 percent. While the consequences for DWAI are less than DUI, even the financial penalties, it can still have a serious impact on an individual’s life – fines for DUI in Colorado go up to $1,000 and DWAI goes up to $500.
Even though this immediate fines may seem like one and done actions, it is important to also keep in mind the other financial implications being charged with DWAI or DUI. For example, if the car is impounded, there will likely be both towing and storage fees before the violator can get his or her car back. When all of these factors are added together, it can cost as much or more than $40,000 for driving while drunk.
Financial Penalties for DWAI/DUI Charges
The first hurdle individuals will need to tackle after being arrested for DWAI or DUI is the towing and storage fees for the vehicle. In some cases, the arresting officers will allow a friend or family member to come pick up the vehicle to help the offender avoid the additional costs but, depending on the state laws and circumstances, that is not always an option. Should the vehicle need to be towed, impounded, and stored, the driver or car owner is responsible for the costs.
Should the offender be booked into the jail and held on bail, someone will need to pay the bail before he or she can be released. Depending on the circumstances of the arrest and the charges, the bail amount could be anywhere from $500 to $50,000. While in most cases it is only required to pay a percentage of this amount, usually with the assurance the individual will appear in court, it can still put a damper on an individual’s finances or the finances of the person who puts up the bail money.
Before the court hearing, it is often recommended to hire a DUI lawyer to help defend the case in court. While attorney’s fees vary, it reasonable to expect to pay at least $1,000 for legal assistance. While this may seem like an unnecessary expense to some, it is important to keep in mind that having a good attorney is key should the individual want the charges reduced or case dismissed.
After being convicted of DWAI or DUI, the individual is then faced with paying the financial penalty or fine. It is important to keep in mind that this fee will vary from one state to the next and will also vary depending on the number of previous offenses the individual has. In the state of Colorado, first time offenders of DWAI face a fine of $500, second time offenders up to $1,500 and third time offenders up to $1,000.
Increase in Car Insurance Rates After DWAI/DUI Conviction
Just like a DWAI/DUI conviction will be on an individual’s criminal record, it will also appear on their driving record, which means insurance companies will see it when it comes time to obtain coverage. Car insurance providers charge a premium based on the amount of risk the individual poses for filing a claim – bad driving behaviors such as speeding tickets and driving drunk will cause the insurance company to see the individual as a more of a risk and the company will increase the individual’s rate in order to offset that risk.
Increases in car insurance rates as a result of a drunk driving incident will vary between states and will also vary between car insurance providers – it is important to keep in mind that some states take DUI or DWAI charges more seriously than others, which may be cause for the variance. Insurance providers in Colorado are relatively lenient when it comes to increasing rates for DWAI or DUI – individuals can expect an average rate increase of just over 50 percent, which translates to an increase of $55 to $60.
Hiring a DUI Attorney
When all of the financial implications of being arrested, charged, and convicted of DUI or DWAI are combined, the financial repercussions can be very serious – not to mention, the loss of income due to serving jail time or being without transportation and not able to get to work. While it may seem smart to not hire a lawyer to save money, having a reputable DUI attorney is important to try and help facilitate the best possible outcome for the individual’s DUI case.
A good DUI attorney who knows and fully understands the DUI laws in the state in which the charges are being filed is an invaluable resource. Often they can review the specifics of the case and find evidence to counter what is being presented by the prosecutor. In the best of situations, having this legal help may get the individual’s case dismissed and help them avoid the financial penalties altogether. More often, however, an attorney will arrange a plea bargain in order to lessen the consequences for the client.
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.