Drunken driving can be expensive, in more ways than one. There's a huge price tag associated with getting arrested and having to deal with the legal consequences, even if it's your first time.
According to a study conducted by the Automobile Club of Southern California, a first-time DUI can cost up to $15,649 in California, reports the Los Angeles Times. The figure is even higher for underage DUIs, which average out to about $22,492 for a first-time offense.
What are some ways that a DUI can cost you? Here's a quick roundup:
- State and local fines. Depending on the state you live in, these costs can run into the hundreds, or even the thousands of dollars.
- The cost of restitution. Restitution is the legal word for paying the victim to make them whole. In some states, these costs are built into the criminal DUI process. But in general, the concept of restitution is a cost that often shows up through personal injury lawsuits.
- Insurance. Don't be surprised if your car insurance premiums go up as a result of your DUI. Also, if the DUI resulted in property damage, your premiums will also go up and you may even have to pay a deductible.
- Ignition interlock: In many states, a DUI conviction comes with the cost of installing an ignition interlock system in a vehicle. This device is one which, when installed, requires the driver to blow into it. If alcohol is detected in the driver's breath, the car's ignition locks up and won't start. The cost of an ignition interlock device includes installation as well as a monthly rental fee.
- Lost wages from jail time. If you end up in jail as the result of a DUI, you might find yourself unable to work for a few days, or perhaps longer.
Of course, don't forget all the other costs associated with a DUI, such as your DUI lawyer's fees to defend you from your DUI charge, and the potential cost of posting a bail bond. The best way to avoid these fees? Just don't drink and drive.