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How Much Does A DUI Really Cost?

Money 20shot
DUIs probably are not as expensive as you think

What is the real cost of a DUI in Idaho? Starting in high school, I have continually heard the rumor that a DUI costs $10,000. However, as I have grown in experience, I've found that this is not a very good estimate. While there are many factors that contribute to a DUI's total cost, I will try and break down the numbers to give you a better average number:

  • Bail ($0-$110) - The first step in any case is to get released from the custody of the jail. Typically, on a DUI, the judge will set bond at $500. You can post the full amount yourself, and then you will receive the entire amount back when your case is complete. Otherwise, you may use a bail bondsman. The bondsman will charge a fee of 10% of the total bond plus posting fees of between $25-$60. So, in the end, the total cost of getting out of jail on a $500 bond is $0 if you post it yourself, or $75-$110 if you use a bondsman.

*Pro tip: The larger bond companies will usually give you the lowest rate. During a recent survey I conducted, $75 was the lowest, through Bail Hotline Bail Bond.

  • Private Attorney ($1,500-$10,000) - Attorney's fees may vary substantially depending on which attorney you choose and the particular facts of your case. Don't believe the hype that a good DUI attorney costs tens of thousands of dollars.

*Pro tip: DUI attorneys offer free consultations. Shop around for the most knowledgeable one. Do not assume more expensive gets you better representation. Some attorneys will charge retainer fees of $5,000 or more that do not even cover the cost of trial. Look for a good attorney who offers a flat fee.

  • Court Fine ($500-$1,000) - The most common court fine for DUI is $750. However, if your case has particularly mitigating evidence or you have arguments for leniency, your attorney may argue a lesser fine, typically $500. Conversely, if your case has aggravating factors such as a particularly high blood alcohol content, substantial prior record, or a child was in the car with you, the court may require that you pay a higher fine, typically $1,000.
  • Court Costs ($202.50) - In every DUI case, the court will impose $202.50 in total court costs.

*Pro tip: Court costs may be waived by the court if you have a particular financial hardship.

  • License Reinstatement($530) - For DUI convictions, you will receive two separate suspensions of your driver's license: one from the DMV and one from the court. Since this is considered two separate suspensions, the Idaho Transportation Department requires that you pay two separate reinstatement fees: $245 for reinstatement after a DMV suspension and $285 for reinstatement after a court suspension.
  • SR22 insurance ($360-$900) - After a conviction for DUI, the Idaho Transportation Department requires that you are covered by a high-risk insurance policy (SR22) for a period of 3 years. My previous clients have reported that they had to pay between $10-$25 per month for SR22 insurance. This monthly fee multiplied over 36 months totals $360-$900.
  • Insurance Rate Increase ($540) - The average cost of car insurance is approximately $600 per year. My clients have reported an increase to their insurance rates by about 30% for a 3-year period for a total 3-year cost of $540.
  • Alcohol Evaluation ($90-$200) - The court will require you to get an alcohol evaluation. Certified GAIN evaluators in Idaho charge between $90-$200 for such an evaluation.

*Pro tip: The cheapest evaluator is Ambitions of Idaho who offers numerous locations across Treasure Valley.

  • Alcohol Treatment ($200-$320) - The court will order you to complete whichever amount of treatment is recommended from the evaluation. Barring aggravating circumstances such as a high blood-alcohol content or signs of dependency or addiction, you will be recommended to complete an ASAM .5 Early Intervention level of care. Depending on the provider, this class will cost you between $200-$320.

*Pro tip: Only one provider allows for treatment to be done online at http://tomwilsoncounseling.com/

  • Victim Impact Panel ($43) - In addition to alcohol treatment, the court will require you to attend a 2-hour victim impact panel. Mother's Against Drunk Driving hosts the panel regularly for an admittance fee of $43.

*Pro tip: if you purchase the online counseling from http://tomwilsoncounseling.com/ they add the online Victim Impact Panel for free.

  • Ignition Interlock ($1,035) – New 2019 Idaho law requires anyone who has been convicted of DUI to install an ignition interlock device on their vehicle for the first year of driving after suspension. In Idaho, there are 8 total providers of this service. Each of them are very comparable in price when adding up the installation cost, monthly fee, and removal cost.

*Pro tip: Freeman Monitoring Services in Nampa offers free installation of a Draeger machine if you have it installed at their shop.

Adding all of this up puts the total cost between $5,000.50 - $14,880. However, if you bail out with Bail Hotline Bail Bonds, hire a knowledgeable flat-fee attorney like JW Bond, obtain an evaluation at Ambitions of Idaho, and complete your counseling online at Tom Wilson Counseling, this mistake will set you back a total of $6,460.50. Not exactly a drop in the bucket but nowhere near $10,000, either.

This isn't meant to encourage people to drink and drive, but to give people more accurate information. It is also worth noting that a DUI can have other negative impacts, such as loss of employment in certain fields that require driving. That said, if you find yourself suspected of DUI, take a deep breath, clean up your act, and realize that your life isn't over. In fact, your outlook is probably much better than you realize.

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