Here's what MSN.com said in a recent article about the cost of a DUI conviction.
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The Consequences of a
By Tom Hudson
Many of the legal consequences of a DUI conviction are well known: Jail, fines, suspension and the revocation of driving privileges. But DUI is an iceberg, and its vast bulk lies hidden from view. The unspoken costs of a DUI conviction can range from freedom to money to the very right to travel.
First on the list are the other strictly legal consequences of conviction. As states have cracked down on drunk driving, legislators have found that there is much to gain and nothing to lose by "piling on" to the intoxicated driver. Hardly a year goes by without legislators finding some new way to grab headlines by adding additional sanctions to DUI convictions.
In the past ten years, most states have added the following terms as mandatory conditions of a DUI conviction:
1. DUI School. Many states require a short (12 to 30 hour) course on alcohol and substance abuse. The cost of this school may be from $100 to $400, and if you show up for the class under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you will be dismissed from the course and have to pay the fee and begin the course again.
2. Victim Impact Panel. Another common DUI sanction is attendance at a "Victim Impact Panel." This is a sobering meeting with the victims of drunk drivers or the families of victims.
3. Ignition Interlock. This is a portable breathalyzer which attaches to your vehicle and prevents the car from starting unless you test under .02 blood alcohol.
4. Community Service. Many states require from 20 to 100 hours of community service for a DUI conviction.
The above DUI sanctions all carry some cost, from a few dollars for the VIP panel to up to $3,000 for the interlock. Add these to the fines, court costs and attorney fees, and pretty soon you're talking about real money.
There are other consequences of a DUI conviction which involve more than mere money. Many automobile rental agencies will not want your business after you are convicted. If you are convicted, you may not be able to obtain life insurance at any price. In addition, many health insurance companies will "rate" you, charge you an extra premium, or deny you coverage. A DUI conviction may even prevent you from traveling to some countries. Many countries will refuse entry to anyone with a criminal record. In some countries, this restriction is limited to felonies. But some, including Canada, count ALL criminal convictions, including DUI as a basis for exclusion from the country. See this link to the Canadian Embassy. And here's one on how to get "rehabilitated."
When President Bush took office, there was a serious question whether he would be permitted to travel to Canada without special diplomatic permission, due to his 1976 DUI conviction from Maine. See this article.
The above facts are just part of a trend. The future undoubtedly holds even tougher sanctions for DUI convictions, including higher fines and costs, and mandatory jail in many states. If you are arrested for DUI, the additional cost of having an attorney who has specialized training may more than pay for itself, if it means fighting the charge and avoiding a conviction.
Another study finds that the average cost of a DUI conviction is as much as $20,000.
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