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In Your Court: The cost of a first-time DUI

Published: Friday, March 14, 2014 1:47 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, March 14, 2014 11:41 p.m. CST

I hope everyone has a happy, safe and responsible St. Patrick’s Day. If you intend to drink, please set aside cash in your wallet or purse for cab fare or have a designated driver; otherwise, it may cost you considerably more financially.

I won’t bombard you with worst-case scenarios involving injury or death. Instead, let’s go the economic route – a first-time DUI conviction will cost you approximately $10,000. (Note: All figures used herein are approximate).

That figure isn’t a scare tactic, and I haven’t inflated the costs. Let’s go through it step-by-step to prove my point.

To begin, your vehicle will be impounded. For $250, that’s probably comparable to your night out, plus the cab fare.

A first DUI is a Class A misdemeanor under Illinois law, barring any aggravating circumstances (i.e. causing injury). This means that the disposition could range from supervision to 364 days in jail, plus a $2,500 fine, court costs and statutory fees. If your blood-alcohol content is 0.16 or greater, a mandatory $500 fine and 100 hours of community service is imposed.

Regarding attorneys’ fees, our firm charges $2,500 as the customary fee for a first-time DUI court proceeding, and even more if the case proceeds to trial.

You’ll be required to complete an alcohol/drug evaluation course, and there will be a determination as to whether additional counseling is appropriate. Depending on the evaluation, these fees range from a few hundred dollars – perhaps $200 – to a few thousand dollars.

Your license is suspended for a year, but you may be eligible for a breath-alcohol ignition interlock device – or BAIID – which will allow you to drive. The installation is $85, the monthly rental fee is $80 and the BAIID’s monthly monitoring fee is $30. The BAIID’s total cost for 11 months – $1,295.

The court costs and statutory fees depend on whether you are charged by the state or a local municipality. Local municipalities have the authority to charge additional fees, and the Illinois legislature mandates multiple fines (i.e. $750 mandatory fee to the clerk of the court, etc.). It is realistic to expect an additional $2,500.

The Secretary of State charges $250 to reinstate your license after the one-year statutory summary suspension. Finally, you pay increased insurance premiums for at least three years. At $50 extra a month, the additional cost for insurance is then $1,800.

For our example, the total cost of the first-time DUI – $11,295.

• Anthony Scifo is a resident of Kane County and an associate attorney with Shaw, Jacobs, Goostree and Associates P.C. in St. Charles, where he concentrates in divorce and family law, personal injury and wrongful death. His goal with this occasional column is to help educate the public regarding the court system and the law. Contact him with general legal questions at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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