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The Financial Consequences of a DUI

A driving under the influence (DUI) conviction in Tennessee can leave a lasting mark on your life. While jail time and license suspension are immediate consequences, the financial burden of a DUI can be significant and long-lasting.

How Much Does a DUI Cost?

The total cost can vary significantly depending on your case specifics, including whether there was property damage, whether you have previous DUIs, and how intoxicated you were. Below, we discuss the different expenses that can impact the cost of a DUI.

The initial financial impact comes from court costs and fines. Fines for a first-offense DUI range from $350 to $1,500; however, the fines only increase for subsequent offenses. Also, court costs can easily exceed $1,000, adding to the immediate financial strain. These costs are mandatory and must be paid in full before your license can be reinstated.

Fines seem like the obvious cost, but the truth is, a DUI can also impact your financial health and freedom because of:

  • Attorney fees. Navigating a DUI charge can be complex. Hiring an experienced DUI attorney is crucial to protect your rights and potentially minimize the penalties. Attorney fees can vary depending on the complexity of your case and the lawyer's experience. However, the cost of a good lawyer pales in comparison to the potential consequences of not having proper legal representation.
  • Increased Insurance Rates: Following a DUI conviction, auto insurance rates can skyrocket. On average, drivers may see their premiums increase by a significant percentage, a surge that can persist for several years. This heightened cost reflects the increased risk that insurance companies associate with DUI offenders. It is also important to note that securing insurance can become a daunting task, with some providers outright refusing to cover individuals with a DUI on their record. For those who do find coverage, the requirement of an SR-22 certification—a form that verifies the possession of auto insurance—can be another hurdle and expense. This form is often mandatory for high-risk drivers to reinstate their driving privileges, further complicating the path to regaining normalcy after a DUI.
  • Ignition Interlock Device (IID). Depending on the severity of the offense and your BAC level, a judge may mandate the installation of an IID on your vehicle. This device requires you to blow into a breathalyzer before starting your car. The cost of installation, monthly lease, and calibration fees for the IID can add up quickly, becoming an additional financial burden. In general, an IID can cost around three dollars per day, but that cost can increase if you are required to have a device with certain advanced features.
  • Alcohol and drug treatment programs. In some cases, the Tennessee courts require DUI offenders to complete alcohol and drug treatment programs. These programs can range from a few weeks to several months, and the associated costs can vary depending on the program's intensity and duration.
  • Employment and income disruption. A DUI can be a career-altering event, particularly for those in professions that require a clean driving record or the operation of a vehicle. The immediate consequence could be job loss, leaving individuals without a source of income at a time when they're facing substantial legal costs. The long-term career implications are equally concerning, as a DUI conviction can tarnish one's professional reputation and limit future employment opportunities. The stakes are high, and the employment repercussions of a DUI extend far beyond the courtroom and into the very livelihood of those affected. Should you lose your job or professional license, you may struggle to find employment, which can lead to a cycle of underemployment or the necessity to accept positions that are below one's skill level and pay grade.
  • Towing and impound fees. If your vehicle is towed after a DUI arrest, you'll be responsible for towing and impound fees. These fees can vary depending on the towing company and the length of time your car is impounded.
  • Driver’s license reinstatement and transportation. While the driver's license is suspended, the simple act of getting from point A to point B becomes a financial concern. Public transportation, rideshares, and taxis become a daily reality, and these costs can quickly add up. Once your driver’s license can be reinstated, you will have to pay a $65 fee.
  • Collateral damages. A DUI can also lead to unexpected costs. If you cause an accident while driving under the influence, you can be sued for the physical and mental damage caused to victims and their property. This could result in significant financial obligations.

Planning for Future Financial Stability

Despite the daunting financial implications of a DUI, there are strategies to manage and mitigate the long-term consequences. Budgeting becomes crucial, as does a proactive approach to debt management.

Seeking the advice of financial counselors or attending financial planning workshops can provide valuable insights into regaining control over one's financial future. It's about making informed decisions and taking deliberate steps toward recovery, ensuring that a DUI doesn't dictate your financial destiny.

Call (865) 544-2010 to Schedule a Case Consultation

Eldridge and Cravens, PC is committed to providing robust legal representation and guidance through every step of the process. If you or a loved one is facing the financial and legal repercussions of a DUI, we encourage you to contact us. As we mentioned, the cost of retaining an experienced attorney is nothing when compared to the cost of a conviction, and a DUI attorney can help you work to achieve a favorable outcome.