I have often been asked how much will a Seattle DUI cost? That is a very difficult question to answer as there are so many variables to each case. Anyone arrested for a Seattle DUI will incur several fines and costs. Combining them all, a person is facing literally thousands of dollars associated with their arrest and subsequent obligations to the court.
In 2011, the Washington state legislature enacted "Hayley's Law" which requires law enforcement to impound the vehicle of anyone arrested for a DUI or Physical Control charge. This is mandatory and law enforcement must impound any vehicle (regardless of the owner) and whether it was legally parked. The cost of getting the vehicle out of impound can be anywhere from $200 to $500.
There are mandatory fines if a person is convicted of a Seattle DUI. A person convicted of a Seattle DUI will face fines anywhere from roughly $900 all the way up to approximately $2500. Yes, that is a huge range and is dependent on where the case is filed and what type of probation a person is placed on (active probation vs. record check). If a person gets their Seattle DUI charge reduced to either Reckless Driving or Negligent Driving First Degree, they are facing fines/costs ranging from approximately $500 to $1500. Once again, that is a very large range and is dependent on several factors. Some courts will allow a person to perform community service in lieu of part of the fines.
If a person elects to request a hearing with the DOL (Department of Licensing) to contest their administrative suspension or revocation, they will need to submit a $200 hearing fee (which will go up to $375 in a few months). If the person loses their hearing, then they will incur costs associated with obtaining the ignition interlock license. There is a IIL application fee of $100 and the interlock device runs between $75-100 per month. There is also the requirement for SR-22 (high risk) insurance and the cost of it varies greatly on the driver and the insurance company used. I tell people that generally the cost of this insurance is roughly $75-$150 per month. Bear in mind that if at any point a person's license is suspended, a person needs to have the high risk insurance during the period of suspension/revocation and for an additional 3 years afterwards.
Another cost that will be incurred for a Seattle DUI arrest is obtaining an alcohol/drug evaluation as well as any treatment that is recommended. These evaluations cost anywhere from roughly $100-$200 dollars. If a person is evaluated as not having any problem with alcohol or drugs, the person will be required to attend an 8 hour alcohol/drug information school (commonly referred to as "ADIS"). If a person is deemed to have a problem with alcohol or drugs, they will be required to do more long-term, extensive treatment. This usually costs several thousand dollars and some agencies do accept insurance to offset the costs.
Typically the largest cost for a Seattle DUI charge is hiring a lawyer. In the greater Seattle area, there are many attorneys who practice DUI defense and there is a wide range of fees. I typically tell people the range is anywhere from roughly $2500-$3000 on the low end all the way up to $10000 plus on the high end. Most Seattle DUI lawyers offer a free initial consultation and at the end of the meeting will provide their fee. Many DUI attorneys, including myself, offer payment options and accept credit cards.
Undoubtedly, all of these costs are very daunting. It is important to remember that DUI cases go on for several months and most of the costs mentioned above do not happen all at once. Regardless, it is still a tremendous amount of money. When I meet with people who have limited financial means, I always advise them that no matter what. they should not try to represent themselves and just plead guiltty at their first or second court appearance. All courts throughout Washington offer a public defender to represent people who cannot afford an attorney. If possible, I always recommend that a person hire a private attorney as they will be able to provide the time and guidance that is necessary to succesfully defend a Seattle DUI charge.