If you are convicted of a DUI, one of the first questions you’ll likely ask is, "How much will this cost me?" The answer depends on the details of your arrest and the state where you’re convicted. A first-time DUI offense in the United States can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to upwards of $10,000 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Court fines, lawyer fees, bail, mandatory traffic school, alcohol treatment and other fines will comprise a majority of the DUI costs, not to mention lost income if you’re required to take time off your job without pay.
Can personal income affect your DUI fines?
Countries like Denmark and Finland have implemented a system where your personal income determines your traffic fines. The higher your income, the more you pay. In 2015, a wealthy Finnish businessman was pulled-over for going 65 mph in a 50 mph zone. In the United States, most drivers would expect a fine of a few hundred dollars for a similar traffic violation. However, in Finland, the police used the taxpayer database to determine that the businessman was required to pay €54,000 (or $103,000 in U.S. currency). The United States does not currently implement a system like this, although it is a continuous topic of conversation. While there may not yet be a federal law that sets fines based on personal income, those with a higher income have the financial means and are more likely to hire better lawyers if they are involved in a serious traffic violation, like a drinking and driving offense. Unfortunately, in the United States, if you have a lower income, you will still be required to pay the same amount in fines.