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Russell Hebets April 22, 2021

Each year in America, roughly 1.5 million drivers are charged with DUI.  While being charged with DUI is not the same as being convicted of DUI, often-times the costs are pretty similar.  Anyone facing Driving Under the Influence charges is well advised to hire a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases.  These cases almost exclusively rely on evidence collected by and testimony from police officer, who are prone to make mistakes.  An experienced DUI lawyer will have the ability to assess and exploit any errors made by the arresting police officer, and leads us to our first area of cost.  So,

How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Cost?

The cost of a DUI lawyer is going to vary dramatically based on location.  In larger metro areas, the costs to defend yourself from these charges will be significantly higher than the costs in less populated rural areas.  The cost will also vary depending on the experience level of the attorney handling your DUI case.  Experienced DUI lawyers in large metro areas can cost upwards of $15,000 for representation through a jury trial.  The costs would be lower if a plea agreement was reached and the case did not proceed to trial.  In less populated areas total representation may be closer to $5,000.  In either scenario, you should not be shopping for your DUI attorney based on lowest cost, as that will almost always result in much lower quality representation.

How Much are Court Costs?

Court costs are only imposed on the entry of a guilty plea or a finding of guilty by a jury or judge.  If you successfully fight a DUI at trial and are found not guilty, then there will be no court costs imposed.  If you enter into a plea agreement, or are found guilty at trial, you will likely be paying probation supervision fees, court costs, and a slew of unrelated criminal justice surcharges.  Although judges have some discretion in suspending some of these costs, they routinely run from $1,500 - $2,000.  These court costs generally can be paid up front, or they can be paid over time for a small(ish) financing fee.  So that’s all, right?  Not so fast.

What About Treatment Costs?

Yes, anyone convicted of Driving Under the Influence will likely have to pony up a fair amount of cash in order to comply with the terms of probation.  These costs are separate from the probation supervision fee that we discussed in the preceding paragraph.  You will need to pay anywhere from $20-$35 per class for alcohol education and therapy.  The amount of therapy that you need to complete will depend upon how aggravated the DUI is.  For example, if this is your third DUI and your Blood Alcohol Content is over .200, you’re going to need to complete the highest level of treatment in your state.  For Colorado you would be looking at 24 hours of alcohol education, and 86 hours of alcohol therapy.  You can do the math here, but with at least 1 class per week, these costs add up.

Are There Other Costs While on Probation for DUI?

Good question!  The answer is yes.  You still will likely need to pay for some form of monitored sobriety.  This can vary from breathalyzers (the cheapest option coming in at less then $6 per test), to urinalysis (budget a minimum of $30 per test), or in severe cases you could be required to have an ankle monitor attached to you at all times tracking any alcohol intake.  If you are in this unfortunate category, you’ll be looking at an installation fee between $50 - $100, plus around $15 per day for monitoring. Although we’re really racking up the costs, we’re not quite done yet.

DUI Costs to your License

If you’ve been found guilty or entered a guilty plea to any alcohol related driving offense, you are likely going to face driver’s license restrictions.  In Colorado, you would likely not be allowed to drive for a period, then you would be required to have an ignition interlock system installed in your car.  This is essentially a box with a tube that you need to blow into every time you start your car, and periodically while you’re driving your car.  These beauties run around $100 to install, then an additional $100+ per month to monitor.  That is on top of the insurance increase that your insurance company just slapped on you because of the conviction (a minimum of an extra $25/mo, and often much higher). 

I’ve lost count, but I’m pretty sure we’re at a very high number.  The bottom line is this:  If you have a choice between paying $40 for an Uber ride home or rolling the dice with driving after you’ve been drinking, the $40 looks like a pretty good spend when you consider the alternatives.