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Home Blog DUI How much does a DUI Cost?

Key Takeaways

  • A Michigan DUI is expensive, and the law intends for it to be that way.
  • There are numerous charges that must be paid, including, but not limited to:
    • Court fines and costs, and other fees,
    • Probation costs,
    • Alcohol/substance abuse education and/or counseling charges,
    • Car insurance increases, and
    • Legal fees.
  • The costs increase depending on whether it’s a 1st, 2nd or 3rd offense.
  • Legal fees are all over the map, with some too high, and others too “cut rate.”
  • Most costs are paid early on, but the financial drain can last for several years.
  • A good DUI lawyer can help reduce both the financial and personal costs.
  • Our goal in every DUI case is always to spare our client as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible.

Legal Fees and Fines: The Initial Financial Hit

Michigan’s laws are designed to make a DUI expensive. Specifically, they provide for the assessment and collection of:

  • Fines,
  • Court costs,
  • Crime victim rights fees,
  • Judgment fees,
  • Probation screening fees, and
  • Probation oversight fees.

Whether it’s a 1st offense, High BAC, 2nd offense, or even a 3rd offense (felony) drunk driving case, any DUI will cost a lot. This shouldn’t be a surprise. The financial burden of a DUI is a major part of the legal punishment for it.

Here, in the Greater-Detroit area of Wayne, Oakland, Macomb and the surrounding counties, some courts that are notoriously expensive. Others can seem like bargains, by comparison. In most local courts, the average cost of a DUI case generally falls somewhere in the middle.

We must note that there is a key difference between a DUI “charge” and a “conviction.” In practice, many of the initial charges made after a DUI arrest are plea-bargained down so that the client avoids getting a more serious (and more expensive) offense on his or her record.

This means that he or she won’t wind up paying the extra costs, or suffering the increased consequences associated with that original and more serious charge.

To be clear, the actual legal term for what everyone calls a “DUI” in Michigan is “Operating While Intoxicated,” or “OWI,” for short.

Other terms you’ll see include DWI, OUI, drunk driving and impaired driving. They all mean the same thing.

A “1st offense DUI” is of these 3 offenses:

  1. OWI (operating while intoxicated)
  2. High BAC (Operating While Intoxicated with a BAC of .17 or greater), or
  3. OWVI (operating while visibly impaired, usually just called “impaired”).

A High BAC charge can ONLY be made in a 1st offense case. It’s an enhanced offense and applies when a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC) is .17 or greater.

A DUI charge can ONLY be a 2nd offense if a person is arrested within 7 years following a prior, 1st offense DUI conviction. A person can be convicted of 2nd offense OWVI.

Fines and Costs

As a rough average, most Metro-Detroit area courts will charge fines and costs in the following range:

  • 1st Offense OWVI: $500 to $1000
  • 1st Offense OWI: $700 to $1200
  • High BAC: $1000 to $1500
  • 2nd offense OWI: $1000 to $2000
  • 2nd offense OWVI: $1000 to $2000

Probation Expenses

Court fines, costs and other fees are just the start. Unless the whole case is dismissed, a person convicted of any DUI offense is almost certain to wind up on some kind of probation.

As part of that, the law requires an alcohol/substance abuse assessment (screening). This is usually done by the probation department, and you’ll pay for that (usually $125 to $150).

In addition, the court will impose and collect an oversight fee that generally ranges from about $40 to $60 per month.

Here’s how long a person is likely to be on probation for a 1st and 2nd offense DUI case:

  • 1st offense OWI and OWVI cases: 6 to 18 months 
  • High BAC cases: 12 to 24 months 
  • 2nd offense cases: 24 months 

This means that the total cost of probation in a 1st or 2nd offense DUI case can run anywhere from a low of $365 to a high $1690.

Fortunately, the law now allows a person who has completed ½ of his or her time on probation, and who has not violated that probation within the preceding 3 months to petition for early discharge. That can save a nice chunk of money.

The Cost So Far…

If we add the fines and costs to the probation expenses, we can sub-total the cost of a 1st or 2nd offense DUI as follows (note this sub-total does not include legal fees and other charges) :

  • 1st offense OWVI: $990 to $24800
  • 1st offense OWVI: $1190 to $2680
  • High BAC: $2195 to $33349
  • 2nd offense: $2210 to $3840

Fines for a Third (3rd) Offense DUI in Michigan

A third (3rd) offense DUI arrest within someone’s lifetime is a felony, regardless of the person’s blood alcohol concentration. These cases are handled in the county circuit court.

Usually, fines and costs in 3rd offense DUI cases are payable over the term of probation (typically 2 or 3 years). Because there are so many other things one must do in 3rd offense cases (like counseling and/or rehab), the total fines and costs typically don’t turn out that much higher than those assessed in 2nd offense cases.

If you’re facing a 3rd offense OWI charge, you already have enough to deal with, so it’s good to know that at least the court fines aren’t going to be through the roof.

However, the legal fees for a 3rd offense, felony DUI are usually much higher than those in first time or 2nd offense cases. This is because there is a lot more legal work involved in a DUI charge that carries a potential 5-year state prison sentence over one only the merely carries the threat of time in the county jail.

That said, here are 2 things to keep in mind about legal fees in 3rd offense DUI cases:

  1. Some lawyers charge WAY MORE than necessary to cover the work likely in these cases.  
  2. By contrast, a person is never going to get first-rate legal services at a bargain price.

This makes it critical to be a smart consumer and check around and compare lawyers. We’ll examine legal fees in more detail later in this piece.

Additional Costs: Classes, License Reinstatement, and More

man blowing in BAC monitor attached to car with hand on steering wheel

If that was it, we could end this article here, with nothing more needed than the sub-totals listed above for a DUI conviction. The “catch,” so to speak, is that what’s listed above are only sub-totals.

Some municipalities also have what is called a “cost recovery” ordinance. This is another bill you get, separately, from either the municipality or the arresting law enforcement agency, charging you for everything from the police officer’s actual hourly time in arresting and processing you to cleaning out the jail cell in which you were held.

Not that long ago, we saw an invoice that contained a fee for the rental of the jail uniform. These “cost recovery” bills range from about $250 to $500.

Of course, not to miss out, the Michigan Secretary of State requires every person to pay a reinstatement fee following ANY driver’s license suspension or restriction of driving privileges.

If that’s not enough, you can also expect to pay for, among other things:

  • Alcohol and/or drug testing
  • Alcohol /substance abuse education classes, if ordered
  • Alcohol treatment, if ordered
  • Counseling, if ordered
  • Driver’s license reinstatement fee to the Michigan Secretary of State
  • Fees for participation in community service (required in some courts, but not others)
  • Ignition interlock device (BAIID) fees, if ordered or required
  • Increased auto Insurance premiums (and they WILL go up – see below)
  • Legal fees
  • Rehab, if ordered
  • Towing fees and impound (vehicle storage) charges
  • Miscellaneous expenses (time off work, transportation, etc.)

It’s hard to accurately total up these additional costs, but it’s realistic to estimate anywhere from $7000 on the low end to as much as $15,000 on the high end. This means that the old line that a 1st time DUI will cost at least $10,000 is actually rather accurate. That’s not good news, even for first time offenders.

Worse yet, other factors (like racking up a 2nd or 3rd offense) can drive that price up even more.

The Long-Term Impact on Insurance Premiums

Unless your driver’s license is revoked, in which case having automobile insurance doesn’t matter, every DUI offender will have his or her insurance rates go WAY UP.

A general “rule of thumb” is that your insurance rates will go up about 94% on average after a 1st offense DUI, meaning that it will almost double, and you’ll pay for that for about 3 years.

Insurance companies love it when someone gets a DUI, because it’s a free pass to categorize them as “high risk” drivers and dramatically increase their insurance premiums.

Related Articles

How Much Does a DUI Lawyer Charge in Michigan?

Here’s the catch to all legal fees: You pay to make things better. At least that’s what you should be doing.

Whatever the DUI charge (1st, 2nd, or 3rd offense), and whatever the lawyer’s cost, you should get a direct benefit from that.

Having a good criminal defense lawyer who concentrates in DUI cases can keep you out of jail, protect your ability to drive, and lessen the burden of things like classes, counseling, rehab and testing by shortening the time you’ll spend on probation.

Even when the evidence against you is solid, a lawyer can often negotiate a plea bargain to reduce the charge so that a less serious offense goes on your record, and you face less severe penalties. This can save LOADS of money (not to mention aggravation and negative consequences) in the long run.

Attorney fees are all over the map (some lawyers charge by the hour), but the average cost for a DUI usually falls in this range:

  • A cut-rate lawyer may charge as little as $2000 for a 1st offense DUI.
  • Better lawyers will typically charge between $3500 and $5500.
  • A 2nd offense will typically run from about $4000 to $7000.
  • Felony, 3rd offense DUI cases will range anywhere from $6000 to $15,000.

There is no reason why a law office can’t at least provide a general idea of what a DUI case is going to cost. Our law firm stands apart for the norm by listing our fee schedule online.

FEES

It’s completely understandable that nobody wants to pay more than they must for anything, including a lawyer. As noted above, some lawyers charge way too much for nothing more than average legal services. Some, while good, charge more than necessary for the work to be done.

Others try to lure people in with “bargain basement” prices. That’s a short, although inexpensive path to disappointment.

The perfect balance allows the lawyer to earn a fair fee for the actual work he or she will do. This almost always falls somewhere between super-expensive and lowball amount. That’s precisely where our office comes in.

Why Work With Jeffrey Randa and Associates

two people shaking hands over a desk with documents in view

We are full-time and genuine Michigan DUI and driver’s license restoration lawyers. Driver’s license restoration appeals are the result of someone having his or her license revoked for multiple DUI convictions. This means that my team and I work on DUI and DUI-related cases ALL DAY, EVERY DAY.

Over the course of more than 3 decades, we have successfully handled thousands upon thousands of DUI cases.

Our firm has CHOSEN this area of practice. We truly like what we do. We often describe it as “helping good people out of bad situations.”

Everyone makes mistakes. Our job is to protect our client, to the extent legally possible, from as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible when a lapse in better judgment leads to a DUI arrest.

Our first goal is to get your DUI charge dismissed. We don’t just “look over” the evidence to do that. Instead, we obtain every relevant piece of it and put it under the legal microscope. We begin our work in every case with the mindset that if we dig deep enough, we’ll get our client out of the whole thing.

Of course, that mindset doesn’t change the facts, but it does change how we examine and present them to produce the very best outcome possible. My team and I will leave no stone unturned to do just that.
No lawyer can do more, and we will never do less.

Testimonials

“Hi Everyone – I can’t believe you got MY WHOLE DUI CASE THROWN OUT! Everyone was nice, Ann and Beth, you were great, and my lawyers worked hard, told me to be patient, and then got the whole case dismissed. Best decision I ever made was to hire you guys. Thank you, Jeffrey Randa and Associates! I highly recommend your firm!”  — David [via email]

“Can’t say enough about Jack and the team. Unbelievably professional and caring. Love these people!!!” —Mike D.

“They did everything right! The experience was professional and never once did I feel that I didn’t know what was going on.” — David M.

“Just two words describe them “The Best”. They handled my case with ease. Gave me advice and the tools to get me the best case possible.” — Derek P.

“Very professional and understanding of my situation. Helped me through a very stressful spot. Genevieve was my lawyer and I will say she really is the best.” — Devin L.

The Total Cost of a DUI in Michigan

Although many factors can affect the bottom line, here is a fair estimate of the total average, total cost of a DUI, including legal fees, from low to high:

  • 1st offense (including High BAC): $7000 to $12,000 
  • 2nd offense: $12,000 to $22,000 
  • 3rd offense: $18,000 to $30,000 

If there is any good news to this, it’s that the legal system simply cannot lock up every drunk driver, nor, with few exceptions, can it hold any of those it does lock up for anything close to the maximum possible time allowed by law.

Thus, the idea of “hammering” a DUI drunk driver is most often a matter of hitting him or her hard in the pocketbook and making things very inconvenient. This is true even for a first-time DUI offense.

It may be expensive, but having to pay money is always better than getting locked up.

Helping You Cut Your Losses After a DUI

A DUI is expensive. We noted at the outset that the law intends that the cost aspect works as a disincentive to discourage any kind of repeat performance.

As we saw, a person will have to pay most (or all) of the following:

  • Arrest and police expenses
  • Court fines and costs
  • Crime victim rights fee
  • Legal fees
  • Probation screening and oversight charges
  • Alcohol education/counseling/rehab costs
  • Car insurance increases
  • Towing and impound fees
  • Other miscellaneous costs

A DUI is going to cost thousands, and in repeat offense cases, that can reach into the tens of thousands of dollars.

Our job, as Michigan DUI lawyers, is to help our client minimize that and avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible. That, in turn, can dramatically reduce how much a DUI winds up costing.

Our first goal, as defense attorneys, is to find a way out of the charge. If the evidence is solid, and the case can’t be dismissed outright, then we must do what’s necessary to keep the fallout to an absolute minimum.

Thus, we’ll do everything possible to negotiate the best plea bargain legally possible and avoid things like:

  • Being required to serve jail time.
  • Having your driver’s license suspended, or, worse yet, completely revoked.
  • Getting a more serious conviction on your record that could have been avoided with better legal representation.
  • Losing, even temporarily, any professional license you may have through the State of Michigan (LARA).
  • Winding up on a longer period probation, rather than one that is shorter.
  • Getting stuck on probation with burdensome conditions, like frequent alcohol and/or drug testing or lots of community service.

If you’re facing a DUI, be a wise consumer, check around, and compare lawyers. If your case is pending here, in the Greater-Detroit area, meaning anywhere in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, or one of the surrounding counties, make sure you contact us.

We offer a free consultation that is completely confidential, and, best of all, done over the phone, right when you call.

My team and I are very friendly people who will be glad to answer your questions, explain things, and even compare notes with anything some other lawyer has told you.

We can be reached Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m., at either 248-986-9700 or 586-465-1980.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Reduce My DUI Costs?

Yes, you can reduce the costs of your drunk driving case by hiring a good DUI lawyer. This means more than just hiring some lawyer who “does” DUI cases.

Our firm specifically concentrates its DUI practice in the Greater-Detroit area, meaning in Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, or one of the surrounding counties. If you are facing a DUI charge here, contact our office for a free consultation.

The simple truth is that finding the right lawyer means doing a little bit of comparison shopping. It involves finding out who really listens to you, answers your questions, and addresses your concerns.

It requires ruling out any lawyer who simply tells you what you want to hear, rather than what you need to hear.

Beyond mere legal advice, you need a clear strategy to produce the best result possible. That’s exactly what we provide.

Any DUI attorney worth hiring will never discourage you from exploring your options. For our part, we always suggest that a person call around and invite everyone to call us back, even to compare notes with anything some other lawyer has said.

As pointed out above, you pay a lawyer to make things better, and part of that is to avoid as many of the legal penalties and negative consequences as possible, thereby limiting the financial hit you’ll take.

How Long Will a DUI Affect My Finances?

Most DUI-related expenses, like legal fees and court fines will be paid over the course of the first few months.

Other expenses, like counseling fees and increased car insurance premiums, will be paid over the course of time.

Probation oversight fees are paid monthly, so those costs go on for the term of a person’s probation.

Ultimately, the all of costs of a DUI conviction should be mostly (if not completely) cleared up in 3 years, at most.