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DWI charges costly in more ways than one

Facing DWI charges in Ann Arbor and throughout Michigan is intimidating, even frightening. It is also expensive. A conviction can result in increase your car insurance as well as be listed on a permanent criminal record. Part of your restitution may be in the form of community service, in addition to probation for up to 2 years, or in some cases time in jail.

Making the mistake of getting behind the wheel of a car after drinking can be a life-altering experience. Whether or not you are guilty of the DWI charges, a number of necessary expenses are involved.

When a driver is pulled over for suspicion of DWI, a police officer will usually ask if they had been drinking. Field sobriety tests such as standing on one foot, walking a straight line or reciting the alphabet backwards may also be performed.

A preliminary breath test is often administered. If the test registers at or above the state's legal limit, an arrest follows. A subsequent breath test at the police station normally earns a visit to a jail cell, pending bail.

It is at that point when the expenses really can add up. It can run $100-$200 to post bond, more if the circumstances warrant. Retrieving the car from an impound lot costs about $500 initially and that adds up quickly for each day it remains on the lot.

Attorneys' fees vary greatly depending on whether or not the case proceeds to trial. Beyond the arraignment, there will be a number of court appearances, culminating in a trial unless the charges are dismissed or there is a plea bargain agreement.

With fines, court costs and probation fees, the fine for a first-time DWI offense can be more than $1000. The driver's privilege to operate a motor vehicle may be suspended for 90 days or more depending upon whether the conviction is for DWI, High BAC or driving while visibly impaired. And as if that were not enough, the Michigan Secretary of State assesses "driver responsibility fees," for two years after a conviction - $1,000 per year for DWI and High BAC or $500 per year for driving while visibly impaired.

In the end, the cost of defending a DWI charge in Ann Arbor and Michigan is expensive, which is all the more reason to prepare a solid defense. The consequences for a conviction are hardly a slap on the wrist. An attorney experienced in defending DWI and DUI charges may offer some insight to the court process and be an essential part of maneuvering through the system.

Source: The Detroit Free Press, "Lawyers, fines, fees in a drunken-driving case could be $10,000," L.L. Brassier, July 24, 2011

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