The Criminal Defense Law Center of
West Michigan

There are many hidden costs to a DUI conviction that you need to know about

How Much Does A DUI Cost?

I’m often asked by clients, “How much does a DUI cost so I can pay up and get this over with?” Unfortunately, this is not how it works at all. Getting a conviction for a DUI in Michigan is like carrying around heavy luggage when you travel, it goes with you wherever you go. 

There is no chance you can get an DUI/OWI expunged from your record. Anytime an employer does a background check they will see you have this conviction on your criminal record. Your spouse will know you have a criminal record. Your driving history and criminal record will follow you from state to state. You will not be able to avoid this fact by going out of state to get a driver’s license.

A conviction for a DUI in Michigan will increase your automobile insurance rates.  Here is a list of costs you will be hammered with upon a conviction for an OWI.

  1. Car tow costs of around $300
  2. Car storage fee that can cost around 30 to 100 dollars a day.
  3. The cost of bond to stay out of jail is around $500 to $5,000.
  4. Alcohol Counseling $500 to $10,000
  5. Insurance rate increase of at least 20% a year and if you have a bad enough past history even a total loss of insurance.
  6. The potential loss of your job
  7. The potential loss of your professional license
  8. Fines and court costs at around $750 to $5,000.

As you can see, the costs for being convicted for a DUI can be extremely expensive. However, there are still more costs that you maybe hit with. If you are ordered to put an interlock device on your car, and your conviction is a first or second offense, you are looking at an installation cost of $100 to $200 dollars. You then must pay a rental fee from $75 to $100.  Additional costs include making sure the device is calibrated correct and maintenance fees. These are monthly expenses. There is also a slight chance you could be ordered to put an interlock device on your car for a first offense. 

If you get your license suspended by the Secretary of State, you will have to pay a restitution fee if you want to get your license back. The costs for this are around $580 for a person who is a first-time offender. If you have multiple drunk driving convictions, you will be required to pay over a $1,000 to get your driver’s license back.

When it comes to your insurance, you will likely face the prospect of being in the high-risk category that will require you to have an additional cost of $1,500 per year. In some cases, you can be required to carry high-risk insurance for longer periods of time then three years.

Since being charged and convicted of a DUI requires a person to go to court numerous times, attending alcohol education classes and complete many hours of community service and possible jail time, losing your job could be a distinct possibility.  If you have to look for new work, many employees run a background check before hiring a person. A lot of companies may not be willing to hire someone who has a drunk driving conviction on their record.

Lawyer Fees

Retainer fees to hire a good lawyer to defend you against your drunk driving charge will not be cheap. Lawyers who do not have a lot of experience or who are not very good at what they do will charge around $1,000 dollars to start a DUI case. Experienced attorneys who are good at what they do will charge much higher rates. The rates for experienced drunk driving attorneys should still be reasonable. 

I’ve heard some OWI lawyers charging as much as $10,000 a case. 

That is a rip off! 

In fact, I think if someone is charging you $5,000 for a first offense OWI is ripping you off! The average cost of a DUI lawyer will be $3,000 for a first offense DUI.  If you are facing a second offense DUI charge, the average cost of a DUI lawyer will increase to $4,500. If you’re facing a felony, third offense drunk driving charge in Michigan you can the average cost to skyrocket to charge $5,000 or more.

I know you can find a lawyer to charge you less than the rates I quoted you above, but be warned you might get what you pay for and going cheap when so much is at stake is rarely worth it! In the long run, the cost of a good DUI lawyer will actually be less than poor representation.

The Cost of a Second or Third DUI in Michigan

The penalties for these offenses get more severe as the amount of convictions go up.  A second conviction within seven years increases the possible jail time a person faces from 93 days to one year in jail for a second offense. If you get a third offense, you are facing up to five years in prison! You license will be revoked for a year on second offense. 

If you get a third offense for OWI in Michigan, your license will be revoked for five years! It will probably be much longer than five years before you get your license back after this felony conviction. The Secretary of State will likely make you wait longer. You can apply to get your license back after five years but that rarely happens.

Representing Yourself?

Only a fool represents himself on a dui charge. I strongly encourage you to retain counsel if you are facing a dui charge. An attorney who practices dui law in Michigan has the right training needed for you to successfully defend yourself in court. 

If you go into court without a skilled DUI attorney by your side, it is very likely that mistakes will be made in court that will ruin your chance to get the best results possible. Mistakes will be made when talking to the judge, mistakes will be made when talking to the prosecutor and mistakes will be made when it comes to examining possible witnesses at trial.  

People who represent themselves in court risk great harm to their case by not challenging evidence not properly presented.  A criminal lawyer that specializes in fighting DUI charges in Michigan will be able to make sure you don’t make the mistakes listed above. They have unique experience in this complex area of law that is always changing.  

This experience gives them the skills and ability to know what the best defenses are and how to use them.  An experienced OWI defense lawyer is always well known in West Michigan courts. This will be beneficial in getting a lesser plea deal than a dui. It will also lower the costs and fines a person will be hit with at sentencing.

The Emotional Cost of OWI Convictions

Anyone who is employed as a driving and has a CDL license will lose their ability to maintain a CDL license forever. This means loss of employment. Other licenses that could be lost included other professional licenses such as the ability to fly an airplane or practice medicine.

Emotional consequences can be suffered from spending time in jail. Having to take rehabilitation classes can put a severe strain on family and home life. If you are unemployed due to a DUI conviction, you will suffer the stress of wondering how you will pay your monthly bills.  You may not be able to focus on other important things in your life such as school. You will be stressed out trying to figure out how to get rides to family events and other social events. Having to ask others for rides all the time will negatively impact your relationship with other people.

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