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The real cost of a DUI

DUIs can be very expensive, but not always in the way you would think. While the state of New Jersey imposes fines, fees and surcharges for both first-time and repeat offenses, there are other costs to be aware of.

Initial fines and penalties

In New Jersey, the fines, fees, surcharges and other penalties you incur if convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol depend on whether it is your first or a repeat offense - and how high your blood-alcohol content (BAC) was. First-time offenders with a BAC higher than 0.08 percent but lower than 0.10 percent face:

  • $250 to $400 in fines
  • $505 in additional fees
  • $1,000 per year surcharge for three years
  • Three-month license suspension
  • Up to 30 days in jail
  • 12 to 48 hours of community service

First-time offenders with a BAC of 0.10 percent of higher face increased fines, longer license suspensions and having to use an ignition interlock device. Repeating offenders can face fines as high as $1,000, $555 in fees and surcharges up to $1,500 per year for three years.

Additional costs

While it's easy to focus on the fines, fees and criminal penalties imposed by the courts, these are not the only costs of a DUI. Even if you aren't convicted, there are still court costs and attorney fees.

According to Bankrate, the full cost of a DUI can be as much as $20,000 and sometimes even higher in the case of repeat offenses. A large part of this cost is made up of insurance surcharges and increased premiums. Being convicted of a DUI tells your insurance company that you are at an increased risk of causing an accident and the company having to payout. The result is a substantial increase in premiums, and the insurance company and may also tack on additional fees.

If your driver's license was suspended, you will have to pay reinstatement fees of around $100 to get it back. If you are sentenced to jail time, you will be unable to work, meaning thousands of dollars in lost wages and the probability of losing your job entirely.

An attorney can reduce the costs of a DUI

If you or a loved one have been charged with a DUI, you need the help of an experienced defend attorney. A lawyer can help reduce the fines and fees you are charged, and either eliminate or greatly reduce the amount of time you will spend in jail.

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