Motorists accused of driving under the influence (DUI) offenses face penalties that include jail time, large fines and the loss of their driving privileges. It’s common for people facing those consequences to assume incorrectly that it will be cheaper for them to just plead guilty to the charges.
After all, defending oneself in criminal court requires a lawyer and might mean that a judge is particularly punitive when sentencing someone if they get convicted anyway. Although pleading guilty may be the most expedient way to resolve DUI charges, it could actually cost you far more than defending yourself.
There are no guarantees about the fine
Depending on the situation at the time of your arrest and your previous driving record, the judge presiding over your DUI case could potentially order you to pay up to $5,000 in fines. A guilty plea does not guarantee leniency.
Increased insurance costs will be more than you expect
Most drivers realize that every infraction they have on their record increases how much it costs for them to pay for insurance every year. However, DUI has a much more significant impact than a standard ticket. It will likely increase your annual premium by more than $1,000.
Insurance companies tend to charge substantially more after someone has a DUI conviction on their record. In Georgia, the average premium increase after a DUI conviction is a shocking 77%. You will pay an average of $2,846 for a year of coverage, which is much more than the average driver without a DUI.
A DUI can affect your work
Depending on your profession, a DUI might cost you your job. You may no longer be eligible for a commercial license. You could lose other licensing that has nothing to do with driving as well. Criminal charges and accusations of misconduct can sometimes trigger disciplinary hearings in front of state licensing boards that could cost someone their profession.
Finally, many employers have zero-tolerance policies for criminal convictions. Your employer might fire you or may at least stop considering you as a candidate for management positions and other advancement opportunities.
The DUI on your record could also have a chilling effect when you apply for a job elsewhere in the future. When you consider all of the ways that a DUI can affect your finances, you may quickly see that defending yourself is a more cost-effective solution than placing yourself at the mercy of the court. Making the right choices when facing DUI charges will help those hoping to move on from a one-time mistake.