Accusations that someone committed a driving while intoxicated (DWI) offense can mean big expenses for the criminal defendant. Retaining an attorney and paying for timing court is not cheap, and there are a surprisingly large number of defendants who would rather just plead guilty to a DWI than try to fight back and protect their previously pristine driving records.
These drivers might look at the standard fines assigned for first, second or third DWI charges and decide that it would be more cost-effective to plead guilty than to pay for their own defense. However, if you only look at the direct court costs, you will drastically underestimate the financial impact of the charge. There are two significant secondary expenses that you have to consider as well.
The DWI will increase your insurance costs
Averages can only tell you so much, as there are often major differences from policyholder to policyholder. Age, sex, home address and driving history can all increase or decrease what you pay for insurance. Still, you can use average costs to estimate what a DWI will mean for your insurance expenses.
On average, however, a policy will cost a driver without a DWI $1,704 a year in New York. The costs will go up by 57% to $2,670 after that driver adds a DWI to their record. The way that New York reports such violations and the regulations it has for insurance companies allow businesses to charge you that increased rate for up to 10 years after your conviction.
Criminal charges can impact your income
Although DWI offenses are often technical infractions that don’t have direct victims, they are still criminal offenses rather than just traffic infractions. Some employers have zero-tolerance policies regarding criminal convictions built into their employment contracts.
Even if your employer is more lenient than that, there could be serious complications if you drive in any way for the company that employs you. You may be left unable to do your job because you are no longer eligible for a commercial driver’s license or have your personal license suspended. You could lose your job or wind up demoted and therefore make significantly less money than you did before.
Altogether, the total cost of a DWI conviction could be tens of thousands of dollars, making the cost to defend yourself more than worthwhile. Choosing to defend against DWI charges will often protect your finances as well as your reputation.