How a DWI Conviction Will Affect Your Finances
When it comes to drinking and driving, Louisiana has a set of rules and penalties individuals will be charged with should they be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence (DUI). Regardless if the charge is made in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Lafayette, or anywhere else in the state, the individual will need to deal with a license suspension, possible jail time, and monetary fines should they be found guilty.
DWI Penalties in Louisiana
A Louisiana DUI, and almost every other state in the country, shares the basic DWI penalties across the country, which includes a license suspension, monetary fines, jail time, and the possibility of having to use an Ignition Interlock Device (IID). If someone is pulled over, found to have a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) level of .08 percent or above, and are then found guilty of DUI in Louisiana, they will face the following penalties:
- Up to 48 Hours in Jail
- Fines Between $300 and $1,000
- 90 Day License Suspension
In addition to the penalties outlined above, Louisiana also requires those who are convicted of Driving Under the Influence to serve up to 32 hours of community service, something that many other states do not enforce. It is important to note the penalties for a first time DWI offender will vary greatly between states, and the severity of the penalties will also increase with the number of previous offenses the individual has. Those who have their second offense within a certain number of years will often face longer mandatory jail sentences, higher monetary fines and longer, more serious, license suspensions.
Costs You Will Incur Before Your DWI Case Begins
Having to pay fines after being convicted of Driving Under the Influence is not the only financial repercussion an individual will face when dealing with this type of charge – often, the costs will begin right when the individual is pulled over on suspicion of DWI. Should the individual be considered to be driving drunk, he or she will likely be taken into custody, in which case the car will need to be towed and stored at the local impound lot. Unless someone is able to come pick up the car, if the arresting officer allows it, the individual will be responsible for the towing fees and the storage fees.
Depending on the circumstances of the traffic stop and the arrest, it is possible the individual will be held at the jail pending the payment of a bail or until the court date. Bail for a DWI charge can be set anywhere between $500 and $50,000 and often a percentage of this bail amount will need to be paid in order for the individual to be released. If he or she cannot pay that amount on their own, a loan, be it from a family member or bail bondsmen, will be needed.
Once the individual has been formally charged and released, a court date will be issued for the case. The best way to ensure a fair trial is to hire a lawyer who is well versed in the DWI laws in the state in which the charge occurred. Every attorney or firm will have a different cost for services, but in general, individuals can expect to pay anywhere between $1,500 and $10,000 in lawyer’s fees to try their DUI case.
Costs You Will Incur After You Have Been Convicted
In some cases, even with a lawyer’s best efforts, the individual will still be found guilty of Driving Under the Influence. When this occurs, there are more financial repercussions than the thousands of dollars already paid out. As mentioned before, first time offenders of Driving Under the Influence will be responsible for paying fines between $300 and $1,000 – it is important to also remember that individuals with previous offenses of DWI will likely have to pay higher fines.
While these are the monetary fines passed down by the state of Louisiana, fines in other states will vary greatly from one state to the next (this is important to know if you receive a DUI in a state other than your home state).
How Your Car Insurance Will Be Affected by a DWI
Since Driving Under the Influence is a vehicle based crime, it will be reported on the individual’s criminal record as well as his or her driving record. Once this has been established, it is almost guaranteed that the individual’s car insurance rates will be increased to help the company cover the additional risk of the individual’s pattern of behavior. The state of Louisiana is already considered the third most expensive state for car insurance without any DUI infractions, so having an additional increase based on this conviction can often make car insurance very expensive for these individuals.
The amount the car insurance rate will be increased is totally dependent on the car insurance provider being used and how that company evaluates the risk of having a DUI conviction. On average, car insurance rates will be raised by over 50 percent per month, which averages out to about $100 added to the monthly bill. While these are the statistics for Louisiana, it is important to remember that these numbers will also vary from state to state.
How to Avoid the True Cost of DWI
When all of the costs are added up, including the towing, storage, lawyer’s fees, penalties, and everything else, individuals could potentially pay upwards of $40,000 for the Driving Under the Influence conviction. This is no small amount of money, so avoiding these costs is crucial for a lot of people’s financial future. The best way to avoid having to deal with these financial repercussions is to simply not drink and drive – always use a sober driver or public transportation when out drinking.
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.