COMMON COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE
One of the most common questions asked of every attorney is, “How much would you charge for a DUI?” Being an attorney, my inevitable answer is to answer that question with another question, “How bad is it?”
I will usually tell people that they should expect to pay anywhere from $1500 to $2500 for a first offense. However, as with anything the more complex, the seriousness of charges, and presence of any of a number of aggravating factors will elevate that estimate very quickly. DUI laws in Illinois have drastically changed over the last 15 years especially when it comes to punishment and consequences.
Below is a quick look at the costs commonly associated with a first time DUI charge. The Illinois Secretary of State estimates the total average costs for a DUI conviction to be $16,580($2,000 of that number is for legal fees). Before thinking that you are saving money by not hiring an attorney; see how a little money spent now could save you more in the long run.
II. Insurance Premiums (SR-22)
Upon being convicted of a DUI in Illinois, the law requires a defendant to obtain high risk car insurance (SR-22) for three years after your license is reinstated. If there is a lapse in coverage, such is the case for a late payment; the insurance company will issue what is called a SR26 to the Secretary of State which will result in a suspension. Driving on Suspended license is not just another traffic ticket, it is a Class A misdemeanor. Subsequent offenses can result in a felony charges.
After receiving a conviction for a DUI you should expect to see an increase in premiums, in some cases 3 to 5 times the monthly amount before the conviction.
III. Fines, Court costs, Towing and Impound Fees, Etc.
If convicted of a DUI, you will have to pay a fine and court costs. In Illinois, the fine can be up to $2,500 for a first offense. Minimum fines and mandatory public service work can be assessed depending on the facts, even if it is the first time being arrested for Driving under the Influence.
Not factored in to the $2,500 figure are court costs. Even with a minimum fine the total fines and court costs on a first offense you should expect to pay in excess of $1,800 not including probation fees.
Towing and impound fees can easily run in excess of $250. Further, almost every city or municipality has instituted a Public Nuisance Tow (PNT) fee that adds an additional fine when vehicle is removed from the scene of a DUI.
Lastly, the Court can assess you a probation monitoring fee if you are on probation, conditional discharge, or court supervision, which should not exceed $25 per month.
IV. BAIID (Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlocking Device)
If you’re convicted of a DUI in Illinois and you want driving privileges, you’ll have to get this device installed in your car’s ignition (a device that will not let your car start without blowing into it). This costs $100 to have installed and $80/month rental fee for the equipment and $30/month monitoring fee. Total cost for one year $1420.
V. Alcohol Evaluation and Treatment (DASA Approved Facility)
You will have to attend and complete alcohol classes from a DASA licensed facility if you want to get your license back or retain your court supervision. This should cost approximately $150 for an evaluation. After the evaluation you will be recommended to complete a certain number of hours of alcohol education. This can range all the way up to 75hrs. You can expect to pay approximately $30/hr. and up.
VI. License Reinstatement Through the Secretary of State’s Office
The fee for reinstatement of your license will run from $250 to $550 plus the cost of a new license.
VII. Attorney Fees (Optional)
For a first time offender, a client should expect to pay $1500. If someone is charging you less than this I would question if your case is receiving the proper amount of attention.
Multiple offenders should expect to pay more depending on the complexity of issues involved and severity of the charges. A third offense will be charged as a Class 2 felony. However, if certain factors are present, a defendant can be charged with a felony on their first or second offense.
VIII. Loss of Income Due to Missing Work
Making your way through the court system with any criminal charge is not usually a quick process. You may have to miss work for court appearances/hearings, alcohol evaluations, possible jail time, court ordered community service, and/or meetings with a probation officer. Also keep in mind that, in Illinois a DUI conviction cannot be expunged or sealed which could affect future employment opportunities.
This only includes the most common fees and assessments associated with a criminal charge of Driving Under the Influence. If a civil suit arises from property damage or personal injury, the costs will increase rapidly.
We could go on and on about the possible permutations regarding DUIs and fees that can be racked up stemming from a DUI conviction. As in all criminal cases, you have the absolute right to represent yourself. However, before taking an easy plea to save money by not hiring an attorney, please consider the amount of money that could be wasted by not.
If you have a question about this, or any criminal or traffic matter please contact Kesler, Nelson, Garman, Brougher & Townsley, P.C. at 217.446.0880 for a free consultation.
For more information from the Illinois Secretary, here is a link to their 2013 DUI Fact Book: http://www.cyberdriveillinois.com/publications/pdf_publications/dsd_a118.pdf