The immediate expenses of a DUI are determined by the court. Most DUI charges in Georgia are misdemeanors, which carry a base fine of up to $1000. Repeated charges within a span of time will increase the amount owed; the third DUI within a period of ten years is considered a high and aggravated misdemeanor. For this charge, fines can be as much as $5000. It is important to remember that the maximum on these fines is not cumulative; a separate fine of up to $1000 can be handed down on each charge that the driver is convicted of. Someone who was convicted of DUI, speeding and reckless driving could, therefore, face a $3000 base fine. The base fine is what determines add-ons, court cases, and fees; once all the fines and fees are added together, you could be facing close to double the base fine.
OPPORTUNITY COSTS OF A DUI
The cost of a DUI can reach far beyond the courtroom – not all the costs of a DUI are as easily quantified. There are a number of opportunity costs associated with being convicted of a DUI in Georgia. The stigma associated with a DUI means that many employers are reluctant to hire someone who has been convicted of this charge. There can even be an impact on your current job; if your company offers use of a company car, you most likely will no longer be covered by the insurance required to drive it. Similarly, most rental car agencies will not rent to someone convicted of a DUI. If you are seeking a role in government, required certification proceedings are often held up by a DUI charge. In most cases, a DUI disqualifies someone from receiving top-secret security clearance, as well as having a negative impact on a military career.
Travel, both personal and professional, also comes with new hurdles after a DUI conviction. For example, a DUI is considered a felony in Canada and therefore disqualifies a person from visiting for ten years following the offense. The reality you must accept is that, if you are convicted of a DUI in Georgia, you now have a permanent criminal record that will follow you wherever you go.
DUIS COST TIME
In addition to the time required for the trial itself, a DUI sentence in Georgia will usually include required hours of community service, attendance at DUI school, and counseling. This amounts to a significant amount of time to carve out of your daily life. Very few people would say that they would like fewer hours in the day to handle all of their responsibilities. The time that you will spend fulfilling your sentence is a cost of a DUI that lasts long past your last day in court.
DUI INSURANCE COSTS
The increase in insurance rates must be considered when discussing how much a DUI costs in Georgia. Georgia requires all drivers to have car insurance. When determining insurance rates, the insurance company is calculating how risky you are to insure. The factors that determine risk include age, what you drive, and where you live, but the most important factor by far is your driving record. A DUI on your driving record will instantly mark you a high-risk driver. The Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles requires all drivers with a DUI conviction to have an SR-22; this is a vehicle liability insurance document that the insurance company will be required to file with the DMV to confirm that a high-risk driver is adequately insured. After a DUI, a driver must have an SR-22 in place for at least three years.
Some insurance companies will cancel your coverage outright when a DUI appears on your record, and any insurance coverage you do get will be exponentially more expensive than standard rates. Your insurance premium could double or even triple after a DUI, but there are still additional costs to consider. You may be required to install an Ignition Interlock Device in your car at your own expense. This device will read the BAC on a driver’s breath; if it is outside the set limit, the ignition will be locked. Taking a defensive driving class may also be an option to lower your insurance rates, but these courses will only decrease the rate by a few percentage points and can cost between $500-1800.
THE COST OF A DUI IN GEORGIA
The cost of a DUI in Georgia is high, both in actual dollars spent and in missed opportunities. This conviction is sure to be financially painful, but it is impossible to quantify the effect it might have on the rest of your life.