Driving under the influence (DUI) can cost you in terms of the damage to your reputation and terms of court-ordered fines, treatment and education fees, and increased insurance premiums. If you or a family member has been charged with DUI, you need to be prepared for the potential expenses.
The exact cost of a DUI may vary from case to case. DUIs are classified into three different tiers in Pennsylvania based on the level of intoxication of the driver. The more intoxicated you are, the higher tier your case falls under, and the more expensive your fines are. Fines and other penalties can be upgraded again for repeat offenders.
Our experienced Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys can fight to minimize the penalties you face. Continue reading to learn more about the costs of drunk driving in Pennsylvania – and consult an attorney as soon as possible if you or a loved one is facing these charges. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case review.
Pennsylvania DUI Fines: First, Second, Third Offense
The true cost of a DUI includes more than just court fees and fines. There can also be additional expenses and financial losses, such as lost wages, reinstatement fees, and higher auto insurance rates. Talk to our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers about the potential costs and fines of your DUI case.
Fines and fees for a DUI can vary, depending on the details of the offense. For example, the penalties for a first-offense DUI in Pennsylvania if your blood alcohol content (BAC) was in the .08 to .099% range may include a fine of $300. However, the jail time and fines for a second DUI in Pennsylvania could be as high as $2,500 – even with a BAC in the same range. Potential fines for DUI in Pennsylvania include the following:
- .08 to .099% BAC (“General Impairment”)
- First Offense – $300
- Second Offense – $300 to $2,500
- Third Offense – $500 to $5,000
- .10 to .159% BAC (“High BAC”)
- First Offense – $500 to $5,000
- Second Offense – $750 to $5,000
- Third Offense – $1,500 to $10,000
- Drugs or .16%+ (“Highest BAC”)
- First Offense – $1,000 to $5,000
- Second Offense – $1,500 to $10,000
- Third Offense – $2,500 to $10,000
Note that drugged driving offenses are automatically placed into the “highest BAC” category, which comes with the harshest penalties. If you were arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana, prescription pills, or other controlled substances, you should consult with a Philadelphia drugged driving lawyer right away.
As you can see by comparing the lists above, court-imposed DUI fines can range anywhere from $300 to $10,000 in Pennsylvania, depending on the nature of the offense. However, as previously mentioned, court-imposed fines aren’t the only expenses that can arise out of DUI cases. Continue reading for an explanation of some additional costs you may be facing.
What Will a DUI Cost Me in Pennsylvania?
In Pennsylvania, one of the penalties for a DUI – or, as it is sometimes called, DWI (driving while intoxicated) – includes license suspension. This can impact your ability to obtain or maintain employment because you may have difficulty commuting to and from work. The amount this will ultimately cost you is dependent on two factors:
- The length of the suspension imposed
- The court’s willingness to grant occupational driving privileges during the suspension
Note that the court will require proof of insurance and proof of employment before considering granting driving privileges.
Not only can missing work hurt your finances – there are also reinstatement fees to get your license (and driving privileges) back. At the end of any license suspension imposed by the court, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) will require a reinstatement fee to be paid before allowing a driver’s license to be reinstated. The license reinstatement fee in Pennsylvania is generally around $70.
In addition to the hassle of obtaining an occupational limited license (OLL), plus fees for license reinstatement, you are also likely to face higher car insurance premiums for years after the DUI is disposed of. In fact, one analysis of insurance rates before and after a DUI found the following increases at three major auto insurance companies:
- Before DUI – $2,388
- After DUI – $3,198
- Increase – 33.9%
- Before DUI – $3,072
- After DUI – $4,516
- Increase – 47%
- State Farm
- Before DUI – $1,616
- After DUI – $1,960
- Increase – 31.3%
Some drivers even find themselves unable to purchase insurance after a DUI and will be required to purchase a bond proving financial responsibility before being permitted to drive again.
On top of insurance hikes and reinstatement fees, you may also be required to attend a driving school or undergo treatment for drug or alcohol abuse. If so, it will be your responsibility to pay for the associated fees and costs. For instance, you may be required to attend Alcohol Highway Safety School (AHSS), which generally costs somewhere in the range of several hundred dollars. To use an example, under the Montgomery County DUI Program, AHSS costs $200, which is due one week before the first session. Additionally, note that there is a $30 fee to reschedule classes.
If you are a college student charged with a DUI in Pennsylvania, contact our DUI defense lawyer for Drexel students today.
Costs of ARD Programs in Pennsylvania for DUI Offenders
For some DUI offenders, it might be possible to enter an Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program. ARD programs are often reserved for first-time DUI offenders, although the specific criteria for admission may vary from county to county. The program allows DUI offenders to complete rehabilitative treatment while adhering to various other court-imposed conditions. Upon completing the program, which may take from 6 months to 2 years, your DUI may be expunged.
Defendants often prefer this program because it allows them to avoid jail time while also removing the DUI from their record. However, there are various costs associated with the program. Many ARD programs require defendants to pay restitution to any victims. Victims may include people who were injured by the defendant during the DUI or who lost property. If you severely injured one or more people, restitution might be very expensive.
If you are interested in an ARD program in your county but are unsure how you will pay restitution, speak with our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys. We may be able to arrange for you to pay some restitution upfront and the rest later.
Collateral Costs Related to DUIs in Pennsylvania
DUIs are expensive charges on their own. The DUI itself could cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars in criminal fines and penalties. If you are lucky enough to be admitted to an ARD program, you might have to pay court costs and restitution, which may be very high. However, that is not where the costs end. There may be various incidental or collateral costs related to your DUI that a court does not directly impose.
When a person is convicted of a DUI, they often lose their license for a while. Whether you lose your license for a few months, a year, or longer, you must learn to live without your car. For people who do not have friends or family available for rides, this can be very expensive. You might have to spend money every day to ride public transportation or shell out even more money for cabs.
You might also encounter fees when trying to get your license back. You may have to pay fees when reinstating a suspended license. There is usually a restoration fee that must be paid before your license is restored. Similarly, if your license was revoked, you must apply for a brand new license when your revocation period is over. This will also involve various fees. Our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers can talk to you about how to restore your driver’s license.
You could also encounter financial hardship if your DUI costs you your job or prevents you from obtaining a new job. Many jobs that require driving as part of your official duties, like commercial drivers, must have clean driving records to maintain their jobs. A DUI could cost you employment and your income.
How Much Does a DUI Defense Attorney Cost in PA?
Criminal defendants usually want to know how much a lawyer will cost. It is a common misconception that private legal counsel is always extremely expensive and out of reach for people of modest income. In reality, strict rules regulate how much attorneys can charge their clients and the conditions attached to payment. Our Pennsylvania DUI defense attorneys can review your case and work out a fair and equitable fee that works for your circumstances.
According to the Rules of Professional Conduct adopted by the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, attorneys must not charge excessive fees for legal services. Excessive fees can be determined by examining the fees charged by other lawyers in the same geographic region for the same or similar services. Being charged far more than most other people in your situation may be a red flag.
Fees are also determined by considering the factors of your case and who your attorney is. Fees may be based on the complexity and novelty of your case, the time it will take to complete your case, and the skills and experience of your lawyer. Lawyers with more experience and sharper legal skills often charge more. However, their finely honed skills may be well worth the cost.
It is difficult to predict how much your unique DUI case will cost. To put it bluntly, the more complicated your case is – such as multiple victims, a high BAC, and heavy property damage – the more your attorney will charge to resolve your case. It is important to note that attorneys are forbidden from charging contingency fees in criminal cases. A contingency fee is like an agreement that you pay only if your attorney wins your case. Contingency fees are not permitted in criminal cases, including DUIs.
Can a Lawyer Help Reduce the Cost of a Pennsylvania DUI?
With the help of a skilled attorney, you might have your fines and costs reduced or even eliminated altogether. Our Pennsylvania DUI defense lawyers are prepared to fight your charges and help you avoid the burden of expensive fines and fees. There are multiple approaches our team could take in your case to help you avoid high costs.
Pennsylvania uses a 10-year lookback policy when determining the level of your current DUI charges. Under this policy, only DUIs from the previous 10 years may be considered when assessing current charges. Multiple prior DUIs could see your charges upgraded and your fines increased. Our team can prevent the inclusion of DUIs that are too old and should not be considered, thereby preventing your charges from being upgraded.
We can also work to suppress any illegally obtained evidence. For example, when conducting breathalyzer tests or other forms of chemical testing, the police must follow strict legal procedures. If they deviate from these rules, the information or evidence obtained might be tainted and invalid. If we can prevent prosecutors from introducing evidence related to your BAC, their case against you will be significantly hindered.
Philadelphia DUI Defense Lawyer Fighting Drunk Driving Charges
The exact cost for a DUI is difficult to calculate. Defendants can expect to pay court-ordered fines, license restoration fees, increased insurance premiums, and lose wages. If you are charged with DUI in Pennsylvania, contact our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys. Call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171 for a free case evaluation.