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The true costs of drunk driving

Compare the costs of getting pulled over for a DUI before getting behind the wheel.

Each year, about 10,000 drivers die on American roads in crashes involving alcohol. These alcohol-impaired deaths represent some 28% of all road fatalities in the United States 2019.

Along with the emotional costs, road accidents cost the nation $49 billion in medical bills and work loss, according to the CDC. Extrapolating those figures, we found that drunk drivers are at the root of an expensive $13.7 billion in medical expenses and lost wages.

How much does a DUI cost?

The cost of alcohol-impaired driving varies by state and depends on the severity of the accident. In regards to why DUI’s are so expensive, criminal defense attorney Ryan Stump, National College for DUI Defense, and the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys. Mr. Stump sited bail, court fees, increased insurance fees, court fines and restoration of driving privileges. “Once you’re charged, you typically lose your driving privileges. For example, in North Carolina, when you are charged with a DWI, you lose your driving privileges for 30-days under a civil revocation. To reinstate them, you’ll have to pay a total of at least $100 to restore them. If you don’t get your driving privileges reinstated, then you’ll incur the ongoing cost of public transportation, taxis, rideshare services such as Lyft, or be forced to rely on friends and/or family for transportation” said Stump.

To understand how DUI cost figures are calculated, let’s dive into the range of penalties you face for drunk driving.

How much are fees and fines?

You face a range of penalties if you’re caught and convicted for drunk driving that largely come down to how strict your state’s DUI laws are. All 50 states have adopted laws limiting your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08%. Still, the penalties you face in South Dakota differ widely from those of California, skewing the national average.

📰

Fines

$338

🚚

Towing

$33

🕌

Bail and court

$133

💳

License fees

$93

💲

Insurance increase

$2,231

🔧

Interlock iginition device

$748

🍺

Alcohol education

$235

🚔

Lost wages

$288

💲

TOTAL

$4,100

How much does a DUI cost in each state?

The average cost of $4,100 across the US doesn’t tell the whole story. This includes states that impose much lower fees and fines than the others. Compare the minimum average costs of a DUI for each state.

StateCost of DUI
Alabama$3,907
Alaska$5,793
Arizona$5,509
Arkansas$4,387
California$5,418
Colorado$4,568
Connecticut$4,675
Delaware$3,426
Florida$4,010
Georgia$5,543
Hawaii$4,158
Idaho$3,100
Illinois$3,482
Indiana$3,281
Iowa$4,083
Kansas$4,044
Kentucky$3,690
Louisiana$4,291
Maine$3,422
Maryland$3,600
Massachusetts$5,194
Michigan$3,869
Minnesota$3,086
Mississippi$2,309
Missouri$2,691
Montana$3,601
Nebraska$4,058
Nevada$3,498
New Hampshire$4,038
New Jersey$3,284
New Mexico$2,767
New York$3,351
North Carolina$4,431
North Dakota$2,930
Ohio$2,562
Oklahoma$5,289
Oregon$4,500
Pennsylvania$3,235
Rhode Island$4,605
South Carolina$3,518
South Dakota$1,391
Tennessee$3,704
Texas$3,965
Utah$5,628
Vermont$2,612
Virginia$3,067
Washington$4,355
Washington, DC$4,355
West Virginia$3,048
Wisconsin$3,537
Wyoming$3,200

Which state is toughest on drunk drivers?

In terms of fines, you may want to avoid drunk driving altogether in Alaska. While fines vary depending on the severity of the incident, you could be hit with a fine of $5,793 in the northernmost state.

And in states with already high car insurance rates like California, a $1,755 increase to your premiums for the next few years is especially daunting. Other factors that significantly raise the cost in certain states are court fees and lost wages from jail time. Compare the overall most expensive states for DUI offenders. Arizona DUI Sergeant Voss of the Tucson police department noted ” People need to have a plan when they go out. A designated driver needs to be a true designated driver who doesn’t drink any alcohol, not the one who drank the least.”

Worst states for a DUI

  • Alaska
  • Utah
  • Georgia
  • Arizona
  • California

Cheapest states for a DUI

  • South Dakota
  • Mississippi
  • Ohio
  • Vermont
  • Missouri

How much are DUI fines?

The average fee for a first DUI conviction is $315, and that number jumps to $545 for your second conviction. Those numbers include states that don’t charge a required fee.

Fees are highest in states like Alaska, Utah, Arizona, Oregon, and Iowa. Only 13 states have no required fine.

State1st conviction2nd conviction
Alabama$600$1,100
Alaska$1,500$3,000
Arizona$1,250$3,000
Arkansas$150$400
California$390$390
Colorado$600$600
Connecticut$500$1,000
Delaware$500$750
Florida$500$1,000
Georgia$300$600
Hawaii$250$1,000
Idaho$0$0
Illinois$0$0
Indiana$0$0
Iowa$625$1,875
Kansas$0$0
Kentucky$200$350
Louisiana$300$750
Maine$500$700
Maryland$0$0
Massachusetts$500$600
Michigan$100$200
Minnesota$0$0
Mississippi$250$600
Missouri$0$0
Montana$600$1,200
Nebraska$500$500
Nevada$400$750
New Hampshire$500$750
New Jersey$250$500
New Mexico$0$500
New York$300$500
North Carolina$200$500
North Dakota$500$1,500
Ohio$375$525
Oklahoma$0$0
Oregon$1,000$1,500
Pennsylvania$300$300
Rhode Island$100$400
South Carolina$400$2,100
South Dakota$0$0
Tennessee$350$600
Texas$0$0
Utah$1,310$1,560
Vermont$0$0
Virginia$250$500
Washington$350$500
West Virginia$100$1,000
Wisconsin$150$350
Wyoming$0$200

What’s an ignition interlock device?

An ignition interlock device (IID) is a breathalyzer that requires a driver to blow into a mouthpiece prior to starting the vehicle. If the IID detects that the driver’s BAC is above a predetermined threshold, the device immobilizes the vehicle.

An IID typically costs between $70 and $150 to install and roughly $60 to $80 monthly to maintain and calibrate. Removal costs are an additional $50 to $150 fee.

IID requirements by state

The average amount of time you’ll need an IID is 9 months. Where you live determines how long you’ll need to use your IID, with many states requiring at least a year.

Whether you’re ordered to install an IID in your vehicle at all depends on your BAC and whether you’re a first-time offender. 36 states require it on a first conviction, and all but 3 states require it after your second conviction at least.

StateIID required
Alabama6 months
Alaska6 months
Arizona12 months
Arkansas12 months
California3 months
Colorado8 months
Connecticut12 months
Delaware14 months
Florida6 months
Georgia12 months
Hawaii12 months
Idaho12 months
Illinois12 months
Indiana12 months
Iowa12 months
Kansas6 months
Kentucky6 months
Louisiana12 months
Maine5 months
Maryland12 months
Massachusetts24 months
Michigan12 months
Minnesota12 months
Mississippi3 months
Missouri6 months
Montana6 months
Nebraska6 months
Nevada3 months
New Hampshire12 months
New Jersey6 months
New Mexico12 months
New York6 months
North Carolina12 months
North Dakota1.1 months
Ohio1.1 months
Oklahoma18 months
Oregon12 months
Pennsylvania12 months
Rhode Island24 months
South Carolina6 months
South Dakota0 months
Tennessee12 months
Texas12 months
Utah18 months
Vermont0 months
Virginia6 months
Washington12 months
Washington, DC0 months
West Virginia4.17 months
Wisconsin12 months
Wyoming6 months

How much does jail time cost?

It’s a tricky number to estimate, especially given how differently incarceration and other penalties are handled among the states. A few states punch up the punishment by charging inmates up to $60 for each day they’re in jail.

On average, you’ll spend a minimum 2.1 days in jail after a DUI conviction, which includes states that don’t set a minimum jail time.

As for the cost of lost wages, let’s break down average costs. The median annual income in the US of $35,977 breaks down to $139 per workday. At that rate, the average DUI costs $288 in lost wages.

However, that’s merely the minimum penalty for a first DUI conviction. Most penalties increase after your first DUI, increasing the possibility of jail time with each offense. These averages also don’t include job loss, which could be a reality if your employer catches wind of your DUI. Some government and public office positions or jobs that rely on your driving ability won’t allow employees with DUIs at all.

StateLost wagesMinimum jail time
Alabama$0No minimum sentence
Alaska$4153 days
Arizona$1,38410 days
Arkansas$1381 day
California$5534 days
Colorado$6925 days
Connecticut$2772 days
Delaware$0No minimum sentence
Florida$0No minimum sentence
Georgia$2,17010 days
Hawaii$2772 days
Idaho$0No minimum sentence
Illinois$0No minimum sentence
Indiana$0No minimum sentence
Iowa$2772 Days
Kansas$2772 Days
Kentucky$2772 days
Louisiana$2772 days
Maine$0No minimum sentence
Maryland$0No minimum sentence
Massachusetts$0No minimum sentence
Michigan$0No minimum sentence
Minnesota$0No minimum sentence
Mississippi$0No minimum sentence
Missouri$0No minimum sentence
Montana$1381 day
Nebraska$9697 days
Nevada$2772 days
New Hampshire$0No minimum sentence
New Jersey$0No minimum sentence
New Mexico$0No minimum sentence
New York$0No minimum sentence
North Carolina$1381 day
North Dakota$0No minimum sentence
Ohio$4153 days
Oklahoma$1,38410 days
Oregon$2772 days
Pennsylvania$0No minimum sentence
Rhode Island$0No minimum sentence
South Carolina$2772 days
South Dakota$0No minimum sentence
Tennessee$2772 days
Texas$4153 days
Utah$2772 days
Vermont$0No minimum sentence
Virginia$0No minimum sentence
Washington$1381 day
Washington, DC$138No minimum sentence
West Virginia$0No minimum sentence
Wisconsin$0No minimum sentence
Wyoming$0No minimum sentence

How much does it cost to get your car back?

When you’re convicted of a DUI, you’ll likely pay for towing and storage if your car is impounded, which varies by state. Towing fees could be as low as $75, for example, but impound, storage and recovery fees can run into the thousands.

How much does it cost to get your license back?

After you’ve paid out your penalties and satisfied your sentence, there’s still the matter of reinstating your driver’s license. In most states, you’re looking at $20 to $40 for a new license, while Maryland, Massachusetts and Washington charge $70 or more.

You could face a higher license reinstatement fee for a DUI specifically. Rhode Island, for instance, charges $152 to reinstate a suspended license — but that number increases to $352 for a license suspended due to a DUI.

How much does car insurance go up after a DUI?

The costs don’t stop with your license. Depending on your state, you could end up paying 112% more each year on your car insurance premiums than before your conviction.

StateAverage car insurancePremium increaseCost of insurance after DUI
Alabama$1,40454%$2,162
Alaska$1,56080%$2,808
Arizona$1,29637%$1,776
Arkansas$1,40468%$2,359
California$1,704103%$3,459
Colorado$1,45234%$1,946
Connecticut$1,104100%$2,208
Delaware$1,10431%$1,446
Florida$1,80040%$2,520
Georgia$1,45247%$2,134
Hawaii$1,35662%$2,197
Idaho$1,41643%$2,025
Illinois$1,24870%$1,822
Indiana$1,11656%$1,741
Iowa$1,10460%$1,766
Kansas$1,24846%$1,822
Kentucky$1,40448%$2,078
Louisiana$1,29662%$2,100
Maine$1,29656%$2,022
Maryland$1,50051%$2,265
Massachusetts$1,29667%$2,164
Michigan$2,1969%$2,394
Minnesota$1,29637%$1,776
Mississippi$1,20027%$1,524
Missouri$1,29639%$1,801
Montana$1,20039%$1,668
Nebraska$1,10458%$1,744
Nevada$1,40429%$1,811
New Hampshire$1,20079%$2,148
New Jersey$1,40447%$2,064
New Mexico$1,20046%$1,752
New York$1,29649%$1,931
North Carolina$1,296112%$2,748
North Dakota$1,35633%$1,803
Ohio$99631%$1,305
Oklahoma$1,50028%$1,920
Oregon$1,29626%$1,633
Pennsylvania$1,29625%$1,620
Rhode Island$1,80025%$2,250
South Carolina$1,29627%$1,646
South Dakota$1,05627%$1,341
Tennessee$1,29619%$1,341
Texas$1,50044%$2,160
Utah$1,29639%$1,801
Vermont$1,29667%$2,164
Virginia$1,24842%$1,772
Washington$1,20028%$1,536
Washington, DC$1,20028 %$1,536
West Virginia$1,35659%$2,156
Wisconsin$1,29651%$1,957
Wyoming$1,50052%$2,280

Bottom line

Grabbing the wheel after getting a drink is a bad idea, endangering your life, your livelihood and the lives of fellow drivers. It’s also a costly one, with hundreds or thousands in fees, penalties and potentially jail time. Learning how to avoid and prevent situations like this early can help. Denise Continenza, a prevention affiliate at Penn State Prevention Research Center noted high quality prevention education as a way to curb drunk driving. Regarding high quality prevention Continenza said the following, “It teaches skills rather than scare tactics. It takes adolescent development into consideration. Teens don’t think that something bad could ever happen to them, and this is why programs that scare (bringing in people in recovery to tell their story) or ones that create high levels of emotions (prom night car crash simulations) do not work. They fade in the kids’ memories over time. Teaching them how to resist peer pressure, cope with stress in healthy ways and set goals for their future are effective in keeping kids away from substance use.”

After a night out on the town, hail a cab, request a rideshare or take advantage of public transportation to avoid the devastation of drunk driving. To protect yourself from drunk drivers on the road, compare car insurance policies to cover you and your car from the unexpected.

Methodology

To understand how DUI cost figures are calculated, let’s dive into the range of penalties you face for drunk driving.
To determine DUI cost by state, Finder compared the states across a total of 8 factors that contribute to the overall cost of a DUI.

  • Fines
  • Towing fee
  • Bail and court costs
  • License reinstatement fees
  • Interlock ignition device fees (installation fee, monthly fee, removal fee)
  • Alcohol education
  • Lost wages (from jail time)
  • Average Insurance Rate Increase After DUI

Sources:

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Allan Givens
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Nicole Gallina
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ngallina@finder.com
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