The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

January 12, 2013

DUI charge costs = $$$$$

By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — By Cass Rains

Staff Writer

A single DUI charge can cost thousands of dollars between lawyers’ fees, court costs and a litany of related expenses.

C. Jeffrey Sifers, Oklahoma Highway Safety Office traffic safety resources prosecutor, estimated the cost of a DUI charge at about $6,500.

“And that’s not even everything,” Sifers said. “Between posting bond and fines, court costs, hiring a lawyer, an inter-lock on your car, DUI schools, license reinstatement fees, a first offense is going to cost you out-of-pocket $6,500, if not more. It’s a hell of a lot cheaper to take a $40 cab ride.”

The cost can increase by hundreds, up to thousands of dollars pending how much a person wants to spend on an attorney, he said.

Sifers said some of the costs of a DUI are set by statute, and others can depend on the court where the charge is filed. In some cases, victim compensation assessments can be as much as the fine for a conviction.

“A first-time offender, you might think it’s not that big of a deal, but it really is a big deal,” Sifers said. “In Oklahoma, I’ve seen resolution  of cases where the fine is the same amount as the victim’s compensation assessment. You could pay restitution as a result of an accident, as well.”

Court costs alone for DUI cases are more than $700, Garfield County Court Clerk Margaret Jones said.

Jones said the court costs for a misdemeanor DUI case are $715.50. Those cases also can include a payment of $30 to the victim’s compensation fund, as well as a fine of up to $500 and time served in the county jail.

A felony DUI case costs about $726.50, and can include a fine of up to $1,000 and two years imprisonment, as well as a $50 payment to the victim’s compensation fund. Another $150 DNA fee also may be required if it is a first-time felony DUI.

Other costs associated with DUIs are bond fees, jail costs and booking fees, vehicle impound, towing and storage fees, increases to insurance rates and alcohol or substance abuse class fees. A DUI arrest can result in the loss of your driver’s license or a modification of the license.

Garfield County Sheriff Jerry Niles said bond for a misdemeanor DUI charge is $1,000. Anyone arrested for felony DUI must see a judge before bond is set.

Assistant District Attorney Hope Bryant said Garfield County District Attorney’s Office filed 337 charges for alcohol- or drug-related motor vehicle crimes last year.

“We filed approximately 337 charges for alcohol-related motor vehicle crimes last year, which is an average of 28 a month,” Bryant said. “Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is a pervasive and dangerous problem in Garfield County.”

Those more than 300 crimes include charges of misdemeanor and felony DUI, DUI with great bodily injury, actual physical control, driving while impaired, aggravated DUI and child endangerment by driving under the influence.

A change in the law last year makes it possible for prosecutors to use a previous DUI conviction that was expunged or deferred to enhance a further DUI to a felony.

Prior to Nov. 1 2011, the first time you got a simple DUI it was a misdemeanor. If it was deferred, dismissed and expunged, and you got another DUI, it was a misdemeanor, Bryant said. After Nov. 1 2011, within 10 years of completion of any sentence or deferred judgment, it can be used to enhance any DUI to a felony.

A misdemeanor DUI charge is punishable by a minimum of 10 days in jail up to a year, and/or up to $1,000 in fines. A felony DUI is punishable by one to five years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $2,500. A subsequent DUI is punishable by one to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to $5,000, and a third felony DUI is punishable by one to 20 years imprisonment and/or a fine of up to $5,000.

Bryant said even if a deal is reached with a prosecutor for probation, costs of requirements can rapidly increase.

She said bonding out of jail, paying for vehicle towing and missing work for court dates all can have a financial impact. She said probation fees, assessments and alcohol and drug classes all are paid for by defendants.

“There is civil liability if you cause some kind of accident,” she said. “There are other legal consequences. Your insurance rates might go up. You might lose your job. It might be more difficult to find a job with that on your record.”

Bryant said the dangers of driving under the influence are great and the consequences can be dire.

“Alcohol impairs your ability to perform multiple tasks simultaneously,” she said. “When you drive, you are required to perform multiple tasks at a time. It poses a significant risk of collision, personal injury, great bodily injury and even death.”