Whenever I speak with someone for the first time about their DUI arrest they always ask me the same thing. How much is this thing going to cost me? Unfortunately there is no standard amount when it comes to a DUI case. It can vary widely depending on the facts of the case, what the end outcome is, and whether investigators or experts are retained. A few months ago the Seattle Times spoke with a well known Bellevue DUI Attorney about the estimated costs associated with a Seattle DUI, so I thought I would chime in and offer my opinion on what a standard DUI costs?
Assuming this is your first offense then below is simply an estimation of what it could potentially costs. Listed from the most expensive expense to lesser expenses.
1. Attorney fee: In a DUI case this will probably be the biggest expense. Depending on the experience of the DUI Attorney and the facts of your case this fee varies from Attorney to Attorney. In my practice a standard fee for a first offense DUI costs anywhere from $4000-$7500.
2. DUI fines: Again the fines associated with a DUI case vary depending on the outcome and whether probation costs are imposed. Generally for a first offense DUI this cost will range from $1000-$2000.
3. SR22 insurance: If your license gets suspended either administratively by the Department of Licensing or due to a DUI conviction then SR22 insurance is needed for at least 3 years. The cost of the insurance varies depending on the individuals driving record, and what insurance company they use. For instance I have had clients actually save money by switching insurance companies to get a better deal on the SR22 and I have had clients have to pay an extra $100 a month. It depends. So I would probably estimate an additional $600-$1000 a year.
4. Ignition interlock requirements: Again this requirement depends on what happens in your case. If you lose your drivers license administratively and you apply for the ignition interlock license then you would be required to carry the ignition interlock device anywhere from 90 days up to 1 year. A DUI conviction for a first offense DUI carries an ignition interlock requirement of 1-2 years depending on the type of suspension and whether you want to apply for an ignition interlock license. The cost of an ignition interlock device varies but there is usually an installation fee of $100, plus monthly costs around $100. Additionally if the device obtains a reading higher than the 0.02 allowed then you need to take the ignition interlock device back to the company that installed it to have it recalibrated. This costs around $100. So I would plan on anywhere from $500-$2500
5. Alcohol & Drug assessment and recommended treatment: Unless you get your DUI case completely dismissed any plea deal you decide to take in your DUI case the Judge will require you to complete an alcohol and drug assessment and any recommended treatment. The cost for the actual assessment is around $150 depending on where you go. If it is your first offense then you probably will only have to do the 8 hour alcohol drug information school class and the 2 hour victim impact panel class. Most places offer a discount to do both classes at the same time. That costs around $125.
6. Investigator fees: Most DUI cases do not require an expert or investigator. For my practice I regularly interview witnesses myself and conduct my interview of the arresting Officer usually at the DOL hearing. The reason I do this is to save my clients money. But in the instances when an investigator is needed most I know charge around $100 an hour.
7. Expert fees: Like investigators most DUI cases to not require the use of an expert. However there is an occasion when a DUI case is going to trial or there is such a unique issue that only an expert is needed to clarify it and help the client obtain a better outcome. Depending on the type of expert, and whether the case goes to trial most local experts charge anywhere from $750-$2000
So there you have it. The cost of a DUI worst case scenario is going to run about $15,225 (this does not include the cost of an expert or investigator).
_ About the author: Matthew Leyba is a DUI Attorney in Seattle. His practice focuses on representing those accused of DUI and other traffic offenses. He is currently rated as one of the Best Seattle DUI Attorneys by Avvo, and listed as a Rising Star in the area of DUI Defense by Super Lawyers Magazine. An honor less than 2.5% of all Attorneys receive.