How Much Does a First DWI Really Cost?

Too much! Don’t risk drinking and driving if for no other reason than a selfish one – it’s a very expensive hit to the average person’s budget and can cause “paycheck to paycheck” to become full tilt.

The costs may surprise you, but know that you can control some costs in the process… the majority of the cost is NOT lawyer’s fees, however the price tag of your lawyer’s fee is your BIGGEST controllable variant – so don’t overpay for the same thing!

On a 1st DWI, don’t pay extra for big talk insinuating that your DWI can “poof go away” like magic when the LARGEST MAJORITY of 1st DWI’s involving legal counsel result in probation, UNLESS there is actually a good defensible case. Beware of the high priced lawyer who sits across the table insinuating that he can “make it go away” before he has reviewed one page of the police report and case evidence (discovery/disclosure).

In a DWI some costs are incurred right away (bond, impound), lawyer’s fees should be incurred within 15 days (to timely file a license suspension appeal), other costs incurred over the first several months or longer (fines, probation, classes), and lastly costs that are unfortunately recurring costs over the next few years (SR-22 and Insurance hikes).

The following is an estimate of the average costs associated with a 1st time municipal DWI in St. Louis MO in a court that requires limited supervised probation. This example assumes you are over 21, a MO resident, US citizen, non-commercial driver, and you blew well over .08 BAC, received tickets for DWI and speeding, & you went on a 2 year SIS Probation. Proviso – not every court requires all of the following items/costs, so costs can vary but this is the spectrum of typical things that can be imposed in a plea:

  • Bond: $250 – 500+ (this should be a credit back against fines)
  • Car Impound: $205+
  • Lawyer Fee: $550 – $1500+
  • Court Fine & Cost: $350 – 500+ (per “companion ticket”)
  • Police Recoupment: $175+
  • Probation Fee: $200+
  • SATOP: $505 – $1875+
  • V.I.P. Class: $35
  • D.O.R. Fees: $45+
  • A.C.S.: FREE – this costs your time! (community service)

One Time Total Cost Estimate: $2,315 – $5,035+ PLUS “Recurring Costs” (below) and any bond credit.

“Recurring Costs” Estimates:

  • SR22: $25-$75+ per month for 2 years ($600 + 1800)
  • Insurance Hike: 1.5 – 2x, or more, for 3 years+

These figures are not based on any study or database, just my own personal experience and general opinions, however humble they may be. None of this is intended to be specific legal advise.

Casey Coats
Attorney at Law
2/4/14

One thought on “How Much Does a First DWI Really Cost?

  1. Thanks a lot for pointing out those facts. It is always expensive to hire a lawyer and there are a lot of additional costs included. This post will help a lot of people to get an estimated cost of hiring a dwi lawyer. :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>