Assuming you survive a DUI without doing major harm to yourself or someone else, be prepared for it to cost you plenty in more ways than one. To start with, you’ll be looking at bail, legal fees, fines, and the possible loss of driving privileges.
Whether your state calls it a DUI, driving under the influence, or a DWI, driving while intoxicated, you’re busted either way for driving while impaired… and, it comes with a heavy price. The effect on your car insurance rates will be the least of your worries, but your insurance company views a DUI as probably one of the worst infractions you can spring on them, short of injuring someone severely or fatally after having one more for the road.
If you’re pulled over for drunk driving, you’re not alone – FBI statistics show that nearly 1.3 million people were arrested in the U.S. for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in 2012. Here’s another fact for you – if you’re convicted of a drunk driving offense, your car insurance rates are absolutely going to go up. The question is – how much? For that, your insurance carrier will consider several factors, none of which you‘re in control of – you already gave up by getting arrested for one too many behind the wheel.
Your age will be considered as one of the many factors your insurance company uses to determine the size of the increase in your rates. Because young drivers are more accident-prone and account for a substantial percentage of all car crashes, get ready for the hammer to come down on you if you fit into this category.
Your driving history is also an important factor in setting your new rate. A recent DUI mixed in with a past accident may be tough to get around. Of course, this depends on the state you reside in, as each state has a different set of rules that dictate the amount insurers are permitted to charge drivers. Now that you’re labeled as a high-risk driver, where you live may also influence your rates. Urban neighborhoods with more high-speed highways could indicate the added risk of a future accident following a DUI conviction.
Legal costs vary between states. Check out the penalties if you happen to live in South Carolina, for example.
Legal costs in South Carolina
In South Carolina, judges are now required to impose a mandatory minimum sentence for even first time offenders. South Carolina law also now requires both first time and subsequent offenders to complete a substance abuse counseling program (may cost up to $2,500) as part of their sentence.
South Carolina First DUI Offense
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 to .09%
• Up to 30 days in jail or 48 hours of community service
• $400 fine
BAC of .1 to .15%
• Up to 30 days in jail or 72 hours of community service
• $500 fine
BAC of .16% or higher
• 30 to 60 days in jail or 30 days of community service
• $1,000 fine
Subsequent DUI Offenses
In addition to the following penalties, second and subsequent DUI offenders also may be required to surrender the registration and license plates of any vehicles they own.
BAC of .08 to .09%
• Mandatory minimum 5 days in jail and may receive up to 1 year in jail.
• Fines range between $2,100 to $5,100.
BAC of .1 to .15%
• Mandatory minimum 30 day jail sentence and may be sentenced up to 2 years in jail.
• Fines range between $2,500 to $5,500.
BAC of .16% or higher
• Mandatory minimum 90 days in jail and may be sentenced up to 3 years.
• Fines range between $3,500 and $6,500.
So the lesson here is obvious – don’t drink and drive in the first place. But, if you are arrested for a DUI, understand that even if you have car insurance, your current insurer may decide to drop you. However, if this happens, don’t give up hope. Shop around to find a company that specializes in hard-to-insure drivers. Why not get a free car insurance quote today?
Have you ever been arrested for a DUI? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.