So, recently I was having a discussion with my legal assistant about how much a NC DWI costs a Driver and how I believe if more people realized the cost and hassle that comes from them, less people would be willing to risk catching one of these charges. Therefore, I decided to blog about it so that those that were interested in the overall costs of a DWI, they would have this as a resource.
First, let me be very clear, as a Raleigh DUI Attorney, the more serious ramifications from driving while impaired are very well known to me. The injuries, death, and property damage that can come from an auto accident is very serious and the likelihood of said accident is compounded when introducing alcohol. That being said, most people do not think they will get in an accident ever, so arguing that point may not be as persuasive as what it will mean to their checkbook. So, with that cleared up, let’s discuss what can be expected if you are charged and convicted of a DWI.
So, for starters, if charged with a DWI, the headaches come fast and severe. Even in a best case scenario, a Driver can expect they will lose their license for 30 days just for having been CHARGED with a DWI. Now, most driver’s are eligible to get a Limited Driving Privilege after 10 days, but that is still 10 days of not driving just for being charged. Additionally, the Limited Driving Privilege requires the Driver to get a Substance Abuse Assessment ($100.00), a certified copy of their driving record ($11.00) and the Privilege itself costs $100.00. After 30 days, the Driver can get their license back, but that also costs $100.00. So, just for starters, at a minimum, a DWI Charge will cost at least $100.00 to get back their license, and potentially another $111.00 for the ability to drive 19 of the 30 days of suspension period.
Now, setting aside the cost of a defense attorney (this particular Raleigh DWI Attorney charges $2,000 for representation of a DWI Charge) let’s discuss the absolute best outcome a driver could expect if they were convicted of the DWI (this is working on the assumption they don’t fight the charge, in which case, they will definitely want a DWI attorney in their corner). The best possible outcome for a DWI charge in Wake County, and I would assume anywhere else in the other 99 counties of North Carolina, is a Level 5. While a friends, brothers, former boss may have a story about having it reduced to Careless and Reckless, those days have passed. Additionally, North Carolina does not offer a ‘First-Offender’ DWI or a ‘Low Blood/Alcohol Concentration’ DWI, all DWI’s are subject to the same sentencing structure whether it’s your first or fifth or you have a BAC of .08 or .28.
So, a Level 5 DWI carried with a fine of up to $200.00 and normally 24 hours of community service of 24 hours in jail (the Judge can elect to give you more community service or jail, but not less). Most people elect the community service as they don’t want to spend the night in jail, however the community service program costs $250.00. With the addition of court costs and various other fines and fees that come with a DWI conviction, a Driver can expect to pay approximately $650.00-$750.00 for a Level 5 Judgment with community service.
In addition to the costs associated with the conviction, there are other costs that come from a DWI Sentence. First, if not already completed, the Driver will be required to complete a Substance Abuse Assessment ($100.00) and follow any recommended treatment. If you have already done the Assessment before for the Limited Driving Privilege, then you will not have to do it again so long as you started treatment within 6 months of the Assessment. The minimum recommended treatment is the Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School ($160.00) but more intensive treatment may be recommended and cost will go up accordingly. Also with a DWI conviction, the Driver will have their license suspended for 1 year. During that period, the Driver may be eligible for a Limited Driving Privilege, with the same requirements as mentioned before, including the $100.00 cost to the court. Lastly, a DWI conviction in North Carolina allows insurance providers to increase premiums as much as 400% for the following three years. Therefore, an individual that pays $400.00/year can expect to pay $1,600.00 a year for the next three years (or the additional total cost of $3,600.00 over that three years).
It is also worth mentioning that for individuals with a BAC of .15 or above there are added burdens and costs that I won’t get into now.
So, needless to say, even without the cost of hiring a Wake County DWI Attorney or DWI Attorney in your area, you can expect an exuberant amount of costs as a result of a DWI charge and conviction.
If you are need of legal representation in Wake county for traffic or criminal charges, please feel free to contact my office for a free consultation at 919-335-5291.