How Getting a DUI Can Hurt You and Ever Being Able to Drive Again

DUI Costs: You may pay: Insurance, bail, towing, legal fees, fines, alcohol treatment, license reinstatement fees, and lost time at work.

It’s no secret that the cries against drinking and driving have been ubiquitous with every holiday season, special occasions (Super Bowl), and television programming. As if there isn’t already enough reason to not drive under the influence, consider the fact that a DUI will cost you about $10,000 by the time you settle your bail, your fines, fees and of course, your car insurance.

The financial costs of a DUI are to discourage you from making the same mistake a second time and potentially taking the life of an innocent person on the road. As of 2020 more than 30% of all car accidents involved a drunk driver or someone under the influence, more than 11,000 of those were reported as “preventable crashes”. Last year, there were 1.5 million people arrested last year for DUI, about one in every 140 licensed drivers.

Auto Insurance and DUI Convictions

If you get a DUI, you’ve demonstrated to your insurance company you’re sizeable financial risk. A DUI conviction has the ability affect your auto insurance rates for at least three-five years, doubling them at the very least. In fact, a DUI may even triple your auto insurance premiums — if your insurance company doesn’t simply drop your coverage.

If your policy isn’t renewed after a DUI, you’ll most likely have to find auto insurance elsewhere or see whether your state has an assigned-risk pool for auto insurance. For example: Illinois estimates that the high-risk insurance costs an additional $1,500 a year for three years, on average.

Most insurance companies look at records for at least three-five years. But the financial impact of that DUI doesn’t end after three years: You’ll likely have to go as many as five more years, incident-free, to get back to the “preferred” status with the lowest premiums that you perhaps once enjoyed. Ultimately, the increased insurance costs of a DUI will be at least $4,500.

Police pulling someone over on the road for drinking and driving

Interestingly, your life insurance premiums may also increase when you shop for a new rate. With a DUI conviction, you could see an increase in your life-insurance bills because insurers may ask if your license has ever been suspended.

What to Consider After Being Arrested for a DUI

Often, those convicted of a DUI may not understand the exact process when dealing with the aftermath it is important to understand the following:

  • Bail: Since you will be going straight to jail without passing go, you will be paying bail, which may cost you between $250-$2,500 depending on the state you live in.
  • Towing: When arrested for a DUI, there may not be nobody to drive your car home for you, so it will be towed. Depending on where you live, the costs of towing may be as high as $1,200 for the first 24 hours and $50 for each additional day of storage. If you can’t afford to get your car after 30 days, the city auctions it and then comes after you with a civil judgment for the impoundment bill if the car’s sale didn’t cover the fees.
  • Legal fees: If you decide to get an attorney to fight your DUI charges, the costs may be anywhere between $2,000 and $25,000. But that’s not the only fee. Legal defense sometimes requires hiring an investigator to examine the arrest scene to poke holes in the arresting officer’s story which could cost an additional $3,000. There may be a need for expert witnesses who can testify about the accuracy, or lack thereof, of field sobriety tests.
  • States Fines: Depending on the State you live in, you may be paying extensive fines for a DUI. Fines and court fees for a DUI can range from state to state, from a minimum of $300 in Colorado and $685 in Washington to as much as $1,200 in Illinois.
  • Alcohol Education and Treatment: DUI convictions generally require that that the driver undergo an education or treatment program, especially if you want to get your license again. Treatment can vary hugely in scope and extent, cost between $350 and $2,000 for basic treatment.

Getting a DUI and Auto Insurance Coverage

  • License Reinstatement Fees: Once you can get your driver’s license back, you will most likely face the costs of license reinstatement fees, which can range anywhere between $100 and $400. However, you may be ordered to place an ignition lock on your car to test your breath and prevent your car from starting if you’re intoxicated. This cost can be about $70 a month after an installation fee of $300.

Lost Time at Work

People who’ve been involved in a DUI arrest often report missing a lot of work in dealing with their mistake, because of court dates, community service and sometimes a jail sentence. For many people who drive to and from their jobs, much less those who drive for their jobs, losing a license can be devastating. In several states, including Washington, your license may be suspended for 90 days simply upon your arrest for DUI, regardless of whether you end up being convicted. If convicted, your license can be revoked for a year, or longer in other states, until you complete all the court’s requirements and pay all fines. If you’re a doctor, stockbroker, airline pilot, lawyer or nurse, a DUI conviction could affect the status of your professional license. A DUI lingers on your criminal record for employers to see if they do a background check, harming your future job prospects. In Washington state, a DUI conviction also stays on your driving record for 14 years.


  1. Drunk Driving, NHTSA.