The True Costs of a DUI in Georgia
Alcohol is an expensive habit, but getting a DUI is even more expensive. Few people are aware of just how much a DUI conviction can cost. Sometimes, people decide not to hire a DUI lawyer because they think it will be too expensive. It may cost you even more to go through the legal process following your DUI conviction without a lawyer on your side.
Consider the following: a DUI will follow you for the rest of your life. If you are convicted, you will be paying fines, court costs and more; a DUI can impact your chances of a high-paying career. Now you understand why you need an experienced attorney representing you in court. Here are the real costs of getting just a single DUI conviction.
A DUI Can’t be Expunged
In Georgia, once you are convicted of a DUI, it can never be removed from your record. It is permanent. Why is this a problem? First, a record of DUI in your criminal history will prevent you outright from getting many driving-related jobs. Other employers vary on their attitudes towards past DUI, but it is almost always negative. You will most likely have to explain the history of your DUI experience at every interview.
However, if you are not convicted or your charge is dismissed, you can get the record of your arrest sealed. Georgia currently calls this “record restriction.” This prevents people from finding out about your arrest, unless they are law enforcement or in the criminal justice system. This means that a potential employer or landlord will never know that you were suspected of having driven under the influence. Having a DUI lawyer on your side, like the team at Hawkins Spizman Fortas, can help put you into this favorable situation.
Insurance Rates Increase
DUI convicts are often shocked at how much their insurance rates rise after a DUI conviction. Depending on the state, rates can go up thousands of dollars. A 2016 study, conducted by Nerd Wallet, found that insurance rates often jump by a minimum of $800 a year after a DUI conviction. In California, the most expensive state to get a DUI, the cost jumps by $2,200. In Georgia, you can expect your insurance rates to jump by at least $220.
These rates will follow you for a decade.
Of course, having the problem of your insurance rates rising assumes that your insurance carrier doesn’t drop you outright. If that happens, you may have a difficult time finding a new insurance company and, when you do, you can be sure that you will be charged more than other drivers.
Legal Fines and Fees
There are also several fines you’ll be forced to pay as a result of a DUI conviction, such as:
- Fines for the crimes you’re convicted of
- Fees for probation services, DUI school, and/or diversion and treatment programs
- Fees for an ignition interlock device, if it is part of your sentence
- Court and lawyer fees
Just the legal fines and fees alone can escalate to beyond $10,000, especially if the case goes to trial. It goes without saying that a dismissed DUI charge is less expensive than being convicted.
Having your license suspended after a DUI conviction can be the most damaging consequence of all. Reliable transportation is a basic assumption of most employers. Finding someone who is willing to drive you to work for a year or even longer is a challenge. To keep their job, people often choose to drive anyway, which puts them at great risk for further arrest, steeper fines, and an even longer suspension.
Even if this is your first offense, a DUI conviction means a license suspension lasting 12 months. You can apply for reinstatement after 120 days provided you have met the requirements set forth by the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Because Georgia is an implied consent state, you will face a year’s suspension if you refuse to submit to a chemical test.
While we have been discussing the fees associated with a DUI conviction in the state, we have not yet mentioned the possibility of being placed behind bars. If you are sentenced to time in jail, you will obviously be unable to work and provide for yourself and your family. You face up to a year in jail for your first, second and third DUI convictions. If you are convicted for a fourth time, you may be sentenced for up to five years of incarceration.
Speak to a DUI Attorney Today
If you have been arrested for DUI, the costs of getting a conviction are too great to ignore. If you choose to fight your charges on your own, you are putting your financial status, reputation and ability to live the life you have become accustomed to at risk. The attorneys at Hawkins Spizman Fortas are ready to help you. If you have been arrested for a DUI, call today for a free consultation.