When you are charged with driving under the influence (DUI), the impact a conviction could have on your life is undeniable. Securing an acquittal is crucial if you hope to protect your future, and a DUI conviction attorney can help.

It is not only the criminal penalties you need to concern yourself with. The costs can be far-reaching and have a lasting influence on your life. Fortunately, you could avoid these harsh consequences with help from a reputable West Chester DUI lawyer.

Criminal DUI Charges and Expenses

Drunk driving offenses in Pennsylvania are considered wobbler crimes. This means you can be charged with a lower-level offense or a felony, depending on the specific details of your case. If aggravating factors are present, such as severe bodily injury or multiple DUI convictions on your record, you will likely face felony-level DUI charges.

The level of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest will significantly impact the fines you receive as part of your conviction. For example, first-time offenders with BAC levels between .10% and .159% can expect to receive a fine of at least $300, or as much as $5,000 for multiple offenses.

However, if your BAC levels were at .16 or higher, or you were accused of driving under the influence of drugs, fines could reach their highest at $10,000 if you are a habitual offender.

Your DUI attorney will work diligently to get your drunk driving charges reduced to a lesser offense wherever possible. This way, you could avoid some of the more significant fines associated with DUIs and high BAC levels.

Other Cost Contributors

It is not only criminal fines you need to be worried about when you are found guilty of a DUI offense in West Chester. You are also at risk of having your driver’s license suspended. If your driver’s license is suspended or revoked, you could expect to deal with many other penalties and fines.

First, you might find you must obtain a hardship license to continue working, attending medical appointments, and making other necessary trips. However, this will come at a cost.

Once your driver’s license suspension ends, you can expect to pay a reinstatement fee of approximately $70. Although this amount may not seem excessive, having a suspended driver’s license on your driving record could significantly impact your ability to afford auto insurance.

Additionally, as part of the requirements to get your driver’s license reinstated, you may be required to complete a drunk driving or driver retraining program that can cost as much as $3,000. Your DUI attorney can give you a better idea of some of the more specific costs you might be expected to cover after a DUI. These might include:

  • Bail and court fees
  • Cost of an ignition interlock device (IID)
  • Increased insurance premiums
  • Attorney’s fees

Bail and Court Fees

The court fees and bail costs you can expect to pay if you are charged with and found guilty of a DUI can be expensive. Generally, immediately after your arrest, you will need to cover the cost of your bail. Often, family members will use a bail bond service to get you released. Typically, this amount can reach up to $5,000 or approximately 10% of your total bond.

If you do not attend your court hearing, the person who put up your bail bond will be required to pay your total bail amount. You will also likely have a failure to appear warrant taken out against you, which could carry additional criminal charges and penalties. Having to appear in court is also going to cost you.

You can expect the West Chester Judicial Court system to impose court costs of up to several thousand dollars for habitual offenders. Your DUI attorney can give you a better idea as to how much you could expect to pay in court fees during your initial consultation.

Ignition Interlock Devices

Many DUI convictions require drivers to install ignition interlock devices at their own expense. These devices require you to blow into a breathalyzer or test your BAC before the vehicle starts. Installation costs typically reach around $150, while the monthly service expense will generally cost about $100.

Increased Insurance Premiums

When you are found guilty of a DUI, your insurance company will likely increase the amount you are required to pay when it is time for your policy to renew. Even one DUI conviction can increase your auto insurance rates by as much as 75%. If you cannot afford to insure your vehicle, it may be difficult or impossible to continue providing for yourself and your family.

When you are considered a risky driver, the insurance company will likely keep your rates elevated until enough time has passed and you are no longer considered a dangerous motorist. However, you also run the risk of your auto insurance company dropping you if you are found guilty of a DUI. This could leave you without auto insurance coverage and unable to secure a new policy.

Attorney Fees

You can work with a public defender when you are charged with drunk driving. However, these attorneys are often overworked and overloaded with cases. This makes it challenging for them to give their clients’ defenses the attention they deserve. Hiring a private criminal DUI defense lawyer is almost always in your best interests.

The amount you can expect to pay in attorneys fees can vary widely on a case-by-case basis. Habitual offenders can expect to pay more for a criminal defense lawyer.

Get Help from a DUI Lawyer in West Chester, PA Today

When a West Chester DUI conviction’s impact on your life is significant, you cannot afford to be found guilty. Get help protecting your future and avoiding these devastating costs.

Contact a respected Pennsylvania DUI lawyer at Skinner Law Firm to determine which defenses are most likely to produce a favorable outcome in your case. You can schedule your confidential defense strategy session as soon as today when you call our office at (610) 436-1410 or fill out our online contact form.


Article Author

Michael J. Skinner, the founder of Skinner Law Firm LLC, is a former prosecutor with the Chester County District Attorney’s Office.

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