A conviction for driving under the influence, whether of alcohol or a controlled substance, carries significant costs, monetary and otherwise. Just to start, Pennsylvania mandates a minimum $300 fine for a DUI conviction, with a maximum of $500 as long as your blood-alcohol content (BAC) is below 0.10 percent. Even for first-time offenders, the fines go up from there if your BAC is higher, from $500 to $5,000 for a BAC between 0.10 percent and 0.159 percent up to $1,000 to $5,000 for a BAC of more than 0.16 percent.
These are just the fines. Court fees can range from $150 to more than $1,000. Probation fees can add another $35 per month at a minimum for at least six months, and it can cost as much as $88 to restore your license. Furthermore, the court may order first-time offenders to attend Alcohol Highway Safety School, at a cost of between $200 and $1,000. Depending upon your BAC, your court costs for a first-time DUI conviction could exceed $5,600. And that doesn’t include attorney’s fees.
A new state law that went into effect in August will add to those costs. For first-time DUI convictions, a driver with a BAC of 0.10 percent or more must install an ignition interlock system for at least a year. This system, which prevents a driver from starting a vehicle with a BAC above a certain level, costs about $100 per month, plus the cost of installation.
Called Act 33 of 2016, requires any driver pulled over with a BAC of at least .10, or who refuses to be tested for alcohol, to install an ignition interlock system. The costs of this system run from $900 to $1,300 per year, and you also must have a driver’s license that identifies you as a DUI offender.
In addition to the costs outlined above, consider the secondary costs. For instance, your insurance premiums are likely to rise after you get a DUI conviction. These premium hikes can account for thousands a year.
In addition, you could sustain unpredictable costs—if, for example, you lose your job, lose working hours traveling to DUI school or probation appointments, or incur other such opportunity costs. Bankrate estimates that a single DUI without property damage can still cost about $20,000, after all is said and done.
If you were charged with DUI in the Philadelphia area, one of the first steps you should take is to consult a criminal defense attorney to explore your options. The costs of a conviction likely will far outweigh the costs of competent legal representation. Furthermore, competent legal representation can help you avoid the worst consequences of a DUI charge. The attorneys at The Skinner Law Firm can help. We are experienced in DUI and other criminal law matters. You can reach us at (610) 436-1410 or through our online contact form.