On your way home from a party or a bar, police pull you over. They ask you to submit to field sobriety tests, check your blood alcohol concentration and arrest you for drunk driving. You go to court, pay your fine, do your community service and move on with your life. Sounds easy, right?
The problem is that a drunk driving arrest is not that easy, even for a first offense. While you may have heard from others that a DUI is not a big deal, when you see the damage it can do to your finances and your future, you may rethink your opinion.
Hold on to your wallet
In Georgia, a first-offense DUI conviction can result in a fine of several hundred dollars and the potential for a short stay in jail followed by probation. However, it does not end there. Much like a hospital stay, you will receive a bill for every phase of your case from the arrest through the end of your probationary period. Some costs you can expect to pay may include the following:
- The cost of towing and impounding your vehicle
- Fees covering the expense of your stay in jail
- A sentencing fee
- A fee to cover the supervision of your probation
- A fee to cover the supervision of your community service
- The cost of any alcohol or drug screenings included in your probation terms
- The cost of substance abuse counseling or alcohol education classes the court orders
- The cost of installation and monthly maintenance on an ignition interlock system, if the court orders it
- The fee for having your license reinstated after your suspension ends
- The added cost of high-risk insurance, which could be as much as 60% higher than your normal rate
The exact fine amounts and other penalties vary from state to state and change as lawmakers toughen drunk driving consequences. Some penalties, however, are universal. A DUI conviction almost always leads to the suspension of your driver's license. This can have a snowball effect. You may have to bum rides from friends and family and miss work for court appearances and community service obligations. You may have to refuse assignments that require travel, or your boss may terminate you if a DUI breaches your employment contract.
You may be thinking that getting behind the wheel after drinking was not a wise move, but you do not want to compound that by failing to take DUI charges seriously. With as much as $25,000 in fines, fees and other costs on the line, it may be in your best interests to reach out for quality legal advice.