Avoiding the financial bite of a DUI

Avoiding the financial bite of a DUI

If you’re facing a DUI charge, you may want to get the whole thing over with as quickly as possible. It’s tempting to just go along and accept whatever punishment may be coming your way. Maybe you feel guilty, like you deserve it, or perhaps embarrassed. You want to pay the fine and be done with it.

But you should think twice before you plead guilty to the charge. DUI convictions can cost you long after the initial expense. While you may have made a mistake, do you really deserve to spend thousands of dollars for it? And what if you truly believe you’re innocent?

Know what you’re getting into

In New Jersey, a first DUI offense with an .08% BAC reading results in a fine that can range from $250-$400; if the BAC is .10% or higher, the fine is slightly higher, $300-$500. That may seem pricey but manageable. Unfortunately, that’s just one cost associated with a DUI charge. There are plenty more in our state, such as:

  • A single $100 DUI enforcement surcharge that has to be paid along with the fine
  • Lost wages due to time spent in jail, or lost wages due to not being able to get to work due to suspension of driving privileges; New Jersey doesn’t offer conditional or work licenses
  • Additional fines if the DUI arrest occurs in a school zone or at a school crossing; or for refusing to take a chemical test
  • Costs of applying to have driving privileges restored
  • Insurance surcharges: $1,000 a year for three years for the first and second convictions within a three-year period, for a total of $3,000 (and higher for further offenses)
  • Ignition interlock device installation costs
  • Point violation surcharges
  • Costs of attending Intoxicated Driving Resource Center (IRDC) programs ($100 and up)

All of these associated costs are there to deter people from driving while impaired, and make good sense. However, if you find yourself facing this long list of associated costs, you may want to think seriously about getting legal help sooner rather than later. You could get in over your head very quickly.