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DUI-Fines & Punishments

What does getting attacked by a rabid raccoon, losing an irreplaceable family heirloom and getting a DUI have in common? They all suck big time. You can receive medical treatment for rabies, find a replica on EBay to trick your family, but you can't escape the emotional and financial pain of a DUI.

So what's the big deal?

It can't be that bad, can it?

You pay a couple of fines, and move on with your life right?

Not quite.

The fines associated with a DUI are just the beginning. Throw in mandatory drug and alcohol counseling, lawyer visits, increased auto insurance rates, impound and towing fees, missed work time, a blemished legal record, embarrassment, and license revocation and you'll be instantly regretting getting behind the wheel while impaired. Read our Drug and Alcohol FAQ for more information by state.

All of the above are assuming you and other passengers involved in the crash don't sustain permanent injury or even death. Both become a strong possibility when it comes to drunk driving.

Once convicted, here are some of the inauspicious punishments and fees associated with your conviction.

1. Towing/Impound

The first infliction on your wallet will be from the tow yard. Once your car is impounded the dollar signs start adding up faster than an MIT math student on an abacus. Each city and state fees vary, and they all use the about the same rationale as a dictator with no one to answer to. Fees range from $50 per day to a $1000 flat fee. Simple law does not apply to these tow yards, so your fine can vary depending on whether or not the city needs to pay off some gambling debts, is saving for a new public pool or if they just recognize a money making opportunity. Estimated average cost: $500-$1500

2. Bail

Unless you feel at home with convicts, cornbread and showering with a group of other strange men, you'll want to bail yourself out of jail. This can vary in cost, depending on whether or not you have to use a bail bond company. Estimated average cost: $500-$1500

3. Fines

These obviously vary from state to state but one thing remains consistent with each; they all feel like someone socked you in the stomach when you open the citation. Estimated average cost: $300-$1500

4. Legal Fees

If you choose to get a lawyer, you may be able to find one for as little as $500, but this doesn't guarantee a non-guilty verdict nor a reduced verdict. It does however guarantee the lawyer is able to buy himself a brand new Ipad 3 with your donation. That also might just be for the lawyer to take a meeting with you. It then climbs from there. Estimated average cost: $3,000-$6,000

5. Alcohol and Drug Counseling

My name is Lawrence, and I'm an alcoholic ? We've all seen this before, but now you will be living it, not to mention paying for it. Estimated average cost: $200-$1000

6. Loss of license

In most states you will find yourself without your license for a minimum of one year. This can lead to increased public transportation costs unless you feel comfortable with the extreme embarrassment of having your mom drive you around town. You also have to pay fees to get your license back when the year elapses. Estimated average cost: $400

7. Ignition Lock

If you were extra irresponsible and were extremely intoxicated a judge can order an ignition lock system to be installed in your vehicle. This is one of those fun devices that require you to blow into before you can even turn on your car. Other than the fact that it is inexplicably embarrassing, it costs money to install as well. Estimated average cost: $500

8. Miscellaneous fees

A DUI to the judicial system is like a Tiger shark spotting a wounded sea turtle. Once you are flipped over on your back you can expect a variety of random fines and punishments. Clerk fees, filing fees, surcharges, assessment fees, taxes, and who knows what else will pop up. You'll have no choice but to pay them or let yourself be eaten alive by the hungry shark. Estimated average cost: Just hand over your wallet

9. Community Service

There is nothing wrong with helping out the community but it sure feels a lot better when you volunteer instead of being forced to. Soon after your conviction you may find yourself picking up trash on the expressway to meet the court's request.

10. Loss of time from work

Doing community service, attending court dates, and spending time in jail all result in time lost from work. Time lost means money lost.

11. Background Check

Once convicted, you'll have a rough time finding employment given that convicted felons aren't exactly what most companies are looking for. This could throw a monkey employment wrench into your career goals. If you are trying to become a pilot, doctor, nurse, police officer, or even something that requires a license like a financial advisor, a DUI could be the cinder block that broke the camel's back when it comes to your career aspirations.

12. Increased insurance rates

Some insurance companies will refuse to insure you after a DUI conviction, while others will raise your rates to the point where you want to drop them. Either way this is not pleasant. You might have to switch from a reputable company with decent rates and great coverage, to an unreliable company with less coverage. Then, if you get in an accident down the road, you might even end up paying more for damages than you would've. Insurance companies will rate a driver based on previous three or five years, so you insurance could be affected for several years. Estimated average cost: $4,000 over 3-5 years

13. Negative Stigma

Put aside the fines, inconvenience, and criminal charges, and you still have the negative stigma that comes along with a DUI. You are the drunk driver in the room, and some don't have a very easy time dealing with that aspect.

The best way to avoid going through the DUI process is to not drink and drive. It can result in the aforementioned, serious injury, or make your life extremely complicated. Life is hard enough as it is without all of these things. Do yourself a favor, and if you have to ask yourself if you are ok to drive, you aren't. Find yourself a designated driver or an alternative means of transportation if you are drinking.