What is the Cost of a DUI in Georgia?
When discussing costs of a DUI, most Georgia DUI Lawyers think in terms of fines, court-costs, probation servicing fees, and the cost of attending counseling and DUI School. However, the financial cost of a DUI in Georgia is not limited to immediate out of pocket expenses. The consequences of a DUI in Georgia include opportunity costs, as with employment, the time value of money, and increases in a person's insurance premiums.
Immediate Out-of-Pocket Expenses After A DUI Conviction in Georgia:
Most Georgia DUI's are misdemeanors. Georgia Misdemeanors carry a fine of up to $1000 and up to 12 months in Jail. A third DUI in ten years is a high and aggravated misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $5000. With all Georgia Misdemeanors there are add-ons, court costs and fees that can almost double the base fine.
Keep in mind that the $1000 base fine can be assessed on each and every ticket associated with a person's DUI case. For example, a person charged with a DUI, Failure to Maintain Lane, Speeding, and Reckless Driving could be facing base fines of up to $4000.00 and up to 48 months in jail. The key to managing total out-of-pocket expenses is to limit the number of offenses to which a person is pleading guilty. That limits the base fine and as a result, lessens the associated court-costs and add-ons.
Opportunity Costs Associated with a Georgia DUI Conviction:
No one can ever completely know the opportunity cost associated with a DUI conviction unless they directly lose a job. That being said, many employers will not accept a person with a DUI because of the perception that receiving a DUI demonstrates character flaws. I totally disagree. DUI is not a crime of morale turpitude, such as a theft-related offense.
Further, many government certificates can be delayed when a person gets a DUI. A person cannot have a top-secret security clearance ( in many instances ), and as a result it can affect a person's military career.
Many companies provide a vehicle, which cannot be insured by a person who has a DUI, and most car rental agencies will not rent to DUI drivers.
Finally, some countries will not allow people to visit after a DUI Conviction. Canada, for example, considers DUI a felony and will not allow a person to visit for 10 years.
Time Value of Money Calculations and DUI:
The basic math after a DUI Conviction is not good. For a busy professional taking time to attend court, do community service, attend DUI School, and attending counseling sessions can take up a great deal of unpaid time.
A perfect example of the economic cost of a DUI can be demonstrated by looking at community service. Most community service is labor intensive. Such labor-related jobs usually pay $7.50 to $9.50 an hour in the private sector. Most professional earn between $25 to $35 an hour. As a result, a professional person is doing their “labor” at a greatly reduced rate of pay from a time value or money perspective.
The Increased Cost of Insurance After a Georgia DUI Conviction:
Getting a DUI Could Cost You Thousands More a Year on Car Insurance.
If you have been convicted of a DUI, it's undoubtedly going to nearly triple your monthly automobile insurance premium for the next 3-7 years. These unexpected costs could become more expensive than your fines and court fees combined. Other offenses, such as open container and possession of a controlled substance, are known causes for insurance companies to raise the price on insurance coverage. So what is the best way to prevent these high costs insurance rates? Sadly, keeping a clean driving record is the only way to prevent high insurance premiums. Consult with an attorney before allowing your clean record to change.
Georgia requires every driver to have car insurance. Depending on the company, Insurance providers determine your rate on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. The number one interest for insurance providers to determine your rate is how risky you are to insure. Factors such as age, what vehicle you drive, where you live, and what your driving history look like, all calculate into your monthly rate. Once a DUI, open container, or possession of controlled substance shows up on your driving record, your agency will categorize you as a high-risk to insure. Some companies are known to even cancel your policy after a DUI conviction shows up on your driving record. Since Georgia's drivers are required to have insurance, this forces drivers to pay for the premiums of being a high-risk driver which are exponentially higher than standard rates.
What makes me a “High-Risk” to insure?
Insurers are looking for how likely you are to cause an accident. There is no question by insurers that DUI will increase a driver's likelihood of a causing an accident. Georgia Governor's Office of Highway Safety research shows that drivers, with a blood alcohol concentrations above a .09, are 11 times more likely to cause a car accident. Georgia requires drivers with a DUI conviction to have SR-22 policy coverage. SR-22 has reporting requirements for your insurer in order for you to maintain the proper coverage to drive in Georgia. Some companies may not cover you at all, while other companies, such as Progressive may offer coverage regardless of your history; though it will come at a very steep price.
If you are one of the fortunate drivers receiving policy discounts like All-state's “Safe Driver” discount, which are based on a clean driving history, you are guaranteed to lose policy benefits at your next renewal period. Most insurance agencies consider renewal periods to be once a month, while other renewal periods could be up to every 6 months or once a year. Besides doubling, potentially tripling your monthly premium, there is plenty more your insurance company may require you to do. Defensive driving courses are a common program to rehabilitate drivers at a high-risk tier back to a lower-risk tier for cheaper insurance rates.
What Is SR-22?
When you are convicted of a DUI, Georgia Department of Motor Vehicles requires your insurance company to regularly file the SR-22 forms to the department. This form is used to show that you are adequately insured for a such a high-risk. This form is also used by the DMV to validate your insurance coverage. After a DUI conviction, drivers are required to have a SR-22 policy for at least 3 years. Although the state may offer release from this policy requirement after 3 years, your insurance rate may remain high for several years after that time has lapsed. Drivers should expect these policies to be substantially more expensive than standard rates.
How can I reduce my monthly rate after a DUI increases my premium?
One of the few driver rehabilitation programs, for high-risk drivers, would be to take a defensive driving course. These courses will decrease your monthly rates by only a small percentage and will cost somewhere between $500 - $1800 Some insurers may provide discounts for other related driving courses but you will need to discuss those options with your insurance agent.
Some insurers require their high-risk DUI clients to install an Ignition Interlock Device. The Ignition Interlock Device can be installed into cars to prevent high-risk, drunk driving. This enables insurance providers to decrease your monthly premium because it ensures safe driving. The system works by requiring the driver to breath into a mouthpiece on the device. The device will read the BAC on the driver's breath. If the device reads any concentration of alcohol, on the driver's breath, the device will prevent the ignition from starting. The driver will have to wait until successfully breathing into the IID before the device will allow the ignition to start. These systems have proven to be problematic for many sober drivers. Like many other technology devices, they are not accurate 100% of the time and can render the vehicle inoperable. Even though IID can lower your monthly rate, these machines are not ideal for drivers.
The Best Approach:
In summary, when asking what is the cost of a DUI in Georgia, it's best to think about ways to avoid one in the first place. The best way to lower the cost of a DUI in Georgia is to avoid being arrested. Have a designated driver. Take a car service. Consume less alcohol and be careful when driving.
If you are arrested for a DUI in Georgia, call us today. You only have 30 days to file an appeal to save your license. We are the top-rated and most reviewed DUI Defense firm in Georgia. Our reviews can be found on AVVO. We are here 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call now.
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What is the Cost of a DUI in Georgia? The answer is far too much to risk drinking and driving. Please be safe and drink responsibly.