We all know that drunk driving is one of the most dangerous things one can do. On average, two in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident at some point in their lives, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, MADD. While getting slapped with a DUI can feel like someone’s worst nightmare, to let inebriated drivers get behind the wheel risks too many lives, as often drunk drivers speed, tailgate, or cross the center line – behaviors that can bring on deadly injuries to all involved.

Drivers who are caught driving drunk incur long-lasting financial repercussions that go far beyond the fine itself. In Washington, car insurance premium increases will last on a driver’s record for five years after the DUI. The minimum fine for a first-time DUI in Washington is just under $1,000. But the resulting premium increases for auto insurance for the average Washington driver after a DUI will be almost 2.5 times the initial fine. That means drivers will pay $2,334 more for insurance over the course of five years. 

In addition to the fine, drivers who receive a DUI might have to deal with attorney’s fees, alcohol education feeds, lost wages, and a host of other costs. 

Depending on the severity of the fine, the true cost of a first-time DUI for Washington drivers is between $6,575 and $10,634. That’s 6.9 and 2.1 times the initial fines, respectively. This true cost includes the fine, attorney’s fees, insurance increases and interlock fees. 

The typical Washington driver will have to fork out $467 extra each year for insurance after a DUI. Those increases last for five years after the DUI. 

Typical car insurance rates go up about 55% after a driver gets a DUI. 

Here’s how a “true cost” is calculated: 

1. The fine: The fine drivers pay depends on the situation. The minimum fine for a first-time offender with a BAC less than 0.15 is about $1,000; the maximum is $5,000. The average fine imposed for all convictions – not just first-timers – was $3,711 in 2013, according to Washington’s Administrative Office of the Courts. 

2. Lawyer’s fees: According to that same office, it’ll cost about $2000 in lawyer’s fees, on average, after receiving a DUI. 

3. To drive again after getting a DUI often means having to install an ignition interlock device. That’ll cost about $1,300 for the first year, and first-time offenders in Washington need to have the device at least one year. 

4. Insurance premium increases: On average, the price will go up by $466, with lots of variation depending on where the driver is insured and other factors associated with the particular driver. 

All things considered, calling a cab or finding any other means of transportation instead of driving drunk is cheap. And yet so many drivers choose not to. If you are hurt by a drunk driver, get information on how to get help. Bill Coats is the attorney for victims of drunk drivers. Contact him now


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