The Cost of a DUI in the Keystone State
When it comes to drinking and driving, the laws are all the same across the state of Pennsylvania, including the cities of Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Erie, Lancaster and beyond. For those who are pulled over and suspected of drinking and driving and who test for a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher, they will be charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI). DUI in the state of Pennsylvania carries many penalties and can often cost offenders a lot of money.
What Penalties Will I Face for DUI in Pennsylvania?
The state of Pennsylvania uses many different punishments when it comes to those convicted of DUI. Some of these penalties include jail time, fines, license suspension, and even the possibility of having to install an Ignition Interlock Device (IID) when they are able to drive. First time offenders of DUI in Pennsylvania have to deal with the following penalties:
- No Minimum Jail Sentence Required, But Possible
- $300 Fine
- No Required License Suspension, But Possible
- Possibility of Having to Use an IID for Refusing a Chemical Test
Pennsylvania enforces a lookback period of ten years, which is the amount of time that previous drinking and driving offenses will count against someone’s current offense. For those who have had a DUI conviction in the last 10 years, they are considered a repeat offender and face the same types of punishment, but ones that are more severe. Second time DUI offenders face:
- 5 Days to 6 Months in Jail
- Fines Between $300 and $2,500
- 12 Month License Suspension
- Possibility of Using an IID During a Period of Restricted License
What Will a DUI Cost Me Before I Am Convicted?
Even though the fines outlined here may not seem like a lot, these figures do not take into account the many other financial repercussions that DUI offenders ultimately face, some that will even be incurred before they are convicted. When someone is pulled over and arrested for suspicion of drinking and driving, their vehicle is generally towed and then stored at a local impound lot. When offenders want to retrieve their vehicle from the lot, they have to pay the towing fees as well as any storage and release fees that were incurred – this can often cost between a few hundred and a few thousand dollars depending on how long the vehicle was stored.
In most cases, those who are charged with DUI are arrested, taken to jail, and then assigned a court date and released. But in some cases when aggravated circumstances come into play, offenders are held in jail and bail is posted for them. Bail for DUI offenses ranges in price depending on the circumstances, but regardless offenders need to pay at least a portion of their bail on their own or with the help of family, friends, or a bail bondsman in order to be released.
Since DUI is a serious and expensive conviction to have, it is only in the offenders’ best interest to have the help of a legal professional for their trial. The cost of a lawyer varies greatly between each law firm and independent attorney, but the cost will generally range between $1,000 and $15,000. It is also important to note that lawyers all have different preferences on how to be paid–usually by an hourly rate or a flat fee that is collected before or after the trial.
What Will a DUI Cost Me After I Am Convicted?
Should individuals be found guilty of DUI, they then have to face other expenses that are associated with drinking and driving, namely the penalties and fines. As mentioned, first time offenders in Pennsylvania pay a fine of $300 and second time offenders between $300 and $2,500 depending on the circumstances. Even though these are the fines used by Pennsylvania, these amounts are not the same ones used in other states.
Will My Car Insurance Increase After a DUI Conviction?
The short answer to this question is yes, but how much it will go up depends solely on the car insurance provider an offender uses. Car insurance providers charge drivers a premium for their coverage in order to cover the risk of drivers making a claim – if driver show that they are reckless in drinking and driving, their risk of making a claim goes up, which causes the insurance company to raise their rates. Each insurance provider has their own evaluation of DUI offenders and will use their own equations when it comes to deciding how much to raise those individuals’ rates.
It is possible, however, to outline the average rate of increase for car insurance companies and DUI offenders by state. When it comes to punishing those convicted of drinking and driving, Pennsylvania is relatively lenient when compared to other states. On average, they raise rates by just over 60 percent, which adds about $85 to the policy holder’s monthly premium. Again, it is important to note that these rates will vary between providers and between states.
How Can I Avoid the High Cost of DUI?
When all of these expenses are added together, individuals could be paying upwards of $40,000 for an avoidable mistake. The only way to avoid the financial repercussions of Driving Under the Influence is to not drink and drive. Always have a safe plan for how to get home or get to your next destination when drinking, whether that is appointing a designated driver, using public transportation or calling a taxi. Doing this will not only save money, it could also save your life and the lives of those around you.
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.