If you look only at the law itself, you will learn that the fine for a misdemeanor first-offense DUI conviction in the state of Florida can range from $500 to $1,000. Do not be misled – that’s only the beginning. If someone is arrested and charged with driving under the influence in South Florida, it is going to cost that person a great deal more than $1,000, and if that person is convicted of the charge, it is going to cost substantially more.
The final, full cost of a Florida DUI conviction depends on the jurisdiction, the details of the charge, and the offender’s previous criminal convictions. Nationally, the estimated average cost of a misdemeanor first-offense DUI conviction is about $10,000, and sometimes it’s even more. Anyone who is accused of driving under the influence in South Florida will have to consider not only the legal and administrative costs – which are numerous – but also the extra-legal costs, which could include higher insurance rates, alternative transportation costs, and even unemployment in some cases.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE LEGAL COSTS OF A DUI CONVICTION?
An experienced West Palm Beach DUI attorney will cost you something as well, but in the context of a DUI prosecution, it is money well spent – a good investment. Facing a DUI charge without a good defense attorney can cost you in ways that are hard to determine at first. But consider just one item – the cost of a taxi or a rideshare service while your driver’s license is suspended. Riding in taxicabs for a few months – or a few years – is a price that no one wants to pay. Here is a rough, approximate breakdown of what a conviction for a misdemeanor, first-offense DUI costs in Florida:
- Court fines: $500 to $1,000 for misdemeanor, first-offense DUI convictions; if the driver’s blood-alcohol content level was at or above 0.15 percent when the driver was tested, the “enhanced” fine will range from $1,000 to $2,000.
- Attorney fees: Attorney fees will depend largely on the complexity of the case. Most DUI attorneys can arrange payment plans when necessary.
- DUI classes: As of 2017, the cost of tuition for Florida DUI classes offered by the Florida Safety Council is $265 for first-time offenders and $410 for subsequent offenses.
- IID: If you are ordered to install an ignition interlock device on your personal vehicle, there is an installation charge and deposit – about $70 – and a monthly rental and maintenance fee that also runs about $70 a month.
- A first-time DUI offender may also be looking at bail, towing and storage fees, a license reinstatement when the driver’s license suspension is lifted, a community service insurance fee, monthly probation fees, and the cost of restitution if property was damaged.
A driving under the influence prosecution can literally wreck someone’s finances, so having the counsel of a West Palm Beach DUI attorney after an arrest is essential. Some employers in Florida terminate employees convicted of driving under the influence even if the job does not involve driving. If you are a taxi or bus driver, a delivery driver, or a professional driver for another employer, you will almost certainly be looking for other work after a conviction for driving under the influence. If you can’t drive and you do not have reliable transportation, finding other work will not be easy.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OTHER COSTS OF A DUI CONVICTION?
Accident victims who are injured by intoxicated drivers have the option to file a personal injury lawsuit in Florida’s civil courts. If a driver who injures another person was driving with a blood alcohol content level above 0.08 percent –the legal limit – that evidence can be introduced in a personal injury trial. A conviction for any DUI charge is considered powerful evidence in a personal injury case. It’s conceivable in some cases that a driver could be ordered to pay a victim thousands of dollars that insurance might not always cover.
DUI does not discriminate. Those in Florida who hold professional licenses may face a genuine threat to their careers and their futures if they are convicted of driving under the influence. Licensing boards have legitimate reasons to protect their professions from alcoholism and addiction. A convicted DUI offender will need to persuade a licensing board that his or her conviction for driving under the influence was an isolated incident and not an expression of the offender’s real character and ethics.
Professional licensing boards govern these professions and others: lawyers, doctors, nurses, dentists, police officers, pilots, teachers, firefighters, and stockbrokers. After a first DUI conviction, some boards require treatment or counseling before a professional license will be reinstated. Subsequent DUI convictions, however, usually mean that a professional license will be revoked permanently.
WHAT DOES A DUI CONVICTION MEAN FOR AUTO INSURANCE RATES?
Increased auto insurance rates after a conviction for DUI will also burden a driver’s finances. A conviction for driving under the influence can boost the price of an auto insurance policy by up to $1,500 a year. Some insurers automatically cancel the coverage altogether. A conviction for DUI in Florida puts drivers in what insurance companies call the “high risk” category, and high-risk auto insurance is quite expensive.
When someone is convicted of DUI, a judge may also order the offender to enroll in a residential treatment program that can range from a few hundred dollars for a one-day session to thousands of dollars for treatment, therapy, and rehab. When placed on probation, an offender is subject to random drug and alcohol testing without a warning or a warrant – but at the offender’s own expense.
The cost of driving under the influence is never, ever worth it. Most people probably do not think about their future and their finances when they get behind the wheel after a few drinks, but they should. Of course, the real cost of driving under the influence isn’t limited to the impaired driver and his or her family and/or victims. It’s a cost that all of us pay. Data compiled in 2016 by the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation shows that the total cost of DUI in the U.S. is $132 billion each year – a cost that we all pay when you consider the public funds spent on courts, jails, and legal services, enforcement and sobriety checkpoints, and emergency medical services.