Fighting a DUI charge is never cheap, especially when you consider the cost of a good lawyer.
However, pleading guilty and dealing with the fines, license suspension, and possible jail time is even worse.
In this article, we’ll go over a few important factors you should consider when estimating the cost of a DUI charge in Virginia.
We’ll also talk about a few different ways you can lower that cost in the long run.
How Much Does a DUI Conviction Cost in Virginia?
Sometimes, an individual charged with driving under the influence will plead guilty because they assume that the cost will be similar to a traffic ticket.
However, this couldn’t be further from the truth.
A DUI conviction in Virginia will result in multiple penalties, including both fines and jail time.
In total, the process can cost upwards of $8,000 as a result of fines, legal fees, and the collateral consequences of your conviction.
To be more specific, there are many costs associated with a DUI conviction which you should look out for, including, but not limited to:
- Criminal Fines
- License Suspension
- Ignition Interlock Devices
- Driving Classes & Treatment Programs
- Insurance Premiums
- Lost Wages & Opportunities
- Attorney Fees
We’ll outline each of these costs in more detail below.
DUI charges in Virginia almost always result in substantial fines.
For your first offense, DUI is a Class 1 misdemeanor with a maximum fine of $2,500. In general, you can expect to pay at least a few hundred dollars in fines for your first DUI conviction.
For a second offense, you should expect a much larger fine.
For your first conviction for DUI, you will lose your license for a year.
Needless to say, this is a pretty big problem that could result in a significant loss of income and other undesirable effects.
The costs associated with remedying this situation are also neither cheap nor easy.
One possible solution is to apply for restricted driving privileges.
These are privileges that allow you to drive to specific places at specific times of the day.
For example, if you have a consistent work schedule you may be able to use restricted driving privileges to drive to and from your place of work.
However, you would still be barred from unauthorized uses of your vehicle, such as driving to a friend’s house or the local movie theatre.
If you are ineligible for restricted driving privileges, or a judge denies your application, you’ll instead have to rely on your friends or ride-sharing services to get from place to place.
As you can imagine, this can get expensive quickly.
Ignition Interlock Device Installation
DUI offenders in Virginia who choose to petition for a restricted driver’s license must install ignition interlock devices on to their vehicles for set periods of time.
Generally, you’ll have to use this device for no less than six months.
An ignition interlock device is effectively a breathalyzer machine attached to your car’s ignition.
In order to start your car, you must blow lower than 0.02% on this device.
- You must install the device on every single vehicle you own, or which is registered to you, regardless of whether you actually drive the vehicle or not.
- You are responsible for any and all costs associated with the device. This includes the cost of the device itself, as well as any associated court fees.
- The device will be monitored and calibrated every 30 days.
In this way, you’ll have to pay a few hundred dollars in order to install an ignition interlock device on each of your vehicles.
You’ll also have to deal with the inconvenience and cost of monthly calibration and reporting.
Driving Classes and Treatment Programs
If you are convicted of driving under the influence in Virginia, you must take classes through the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP).
Further, you will have to pay for all of the fees for these classes yourself.
As a rough estimate, this will come to somewhere between $250 and $400, depending on the specific classes and programs you are taking.
In addition, VASAP class schedules are not very flexible.
For this reason, you may end up losing wages due to having to attend VASAP classes instead of going to work.
An insurance premium is the amount of money that an insurance company will charge you for a particular amount of coverage (i.e. your insurance “plan”).
Insurance premiums generally start from some base calculation, which is then combined with various personal information such as your location, the value of your car, and your driving history.
In this way, having a DUI conviction on your driving record can significantly impact the amount you’ll have to pay for insurance.
Further, an arrest for DUI can also cause your premiums to go up, even if you’re never actually convicted of the crime.
Remember that a DUI conviction will remain on your driving record for eleven years.
This means that your insurance costs will go up for quite a long time, costing you a great deal of money in the long run.
Finally, you should remember that Virginia is a right-to-work state.
This means that your employer can fire you for any or even no reason, provided that they aren’t terminating you based on your association with a protected social class (race, gender, religion, etc.).
Since having a criminal history is not a protected class when it comes to employment, your employer can fire you for a DUI conviction, or even an arrest for DUI.
Further, having a criminal record could potentially bar you from certain professions, and might even disqualify you in the eyes of future employers.
This is an especially important consideration if you hold a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
Even a single DUI conviction will result in the complete suspension of your CDL for at least one year.
Even if you apply for restricted driving privileges, you may not be able to drive commercially until this suspension is up.
For all of these reasons, a DUI may result in a significant loss in wages, either by causing you to lose your job or by barring you from certain jobs in the future.
How Much Should I Pay for an Attorney?
It can be hard to estimate the cost of a DUI attorney without knowing the specifics of your case.
As a very rough estimate, you should expect to pay somewhere between $1,800 and $3,000 for a DUI attorney in Virginia.
However, this cost can change depending on several factors, such as your location, the specifics of your case, and whether or not you are charged with felony DUI.
In general, the more complicated your case is, the more of your lawyer’s time it will take. And the more time it takes, the more you should expect to pay your attorney.
Fortunately, any reliable attorney will be willing and able to walk you through the costs before they take on your case.
That way, you won’t be blindsided by the total cost at the end.
With how expensive hiring a lawyer can be, you should absolutely make sure you get what you pay for.
Especially when it comes to charges such as DUI, you should look for an attorney who is honest and upfront about the costs from the beginning.
Conclusion: Estimating Your Virginia DUI Cost
We noted above that the total cost of a DUI in Virginia will be upwards of $8,000.
However, this number is only an averaged estimate of how much you should expect to pay.
In reality, the cost of a DUI conviction can range from anywhere between $6,000 to $15,000 over a four-year period, depending on the complexity of your case and other associated factors.
However, as expensive as this may seem, it’s still much less than the cost of pleading guilty and allowing the state to assign the penalty on their own.
Jail time, in particular, can often be a slippery slope of expenditure, especially when you consider how likely you are to lose your job.
For this reason, as well as all the other reasons we detailed above, it’s always a good idea to hire an experienced DUI attorney as early as possible in order to get a better handle on the charges against you.