How Much Will an OWI Cost Me?

It’s no secret that an operating while intoxicated (OWI) charge is expensive. There’s the cost of hiring a lawyer and going to court – and if you lose the case, the fines and fees and surcharges you’ll deal with for years. But that’s not all an OWI will cost you. If you’re convicted of OWI, you’re facing an increased insurance premium, the cost of a victim impact panel, out-of-pocket tuition for any education or treatment the court requires and the cost of getting yourself around while your driver’s license is suspended. 

So if you’re facing an OWI charge and you’re thinking hiring a lawyer to defend your case is too expensive, think again. Defending your charge is an investment you make in your future that can save you thousands of dollars. Here’s a breakdown of all the costs that come with an OWI:

Court Costs and Fees: Almost $400

You’re responsible for the court costs and fees associated with your case.  Generally, court costs and fees for OWI cases come in around $385, but can be higher.  

Fine: Up to $5,000 – and in some cases, up to $10,000

When you’re convicted of OWI, you may be required to pay a fine. How much you’re required to pay depends on your conviction. 

For an OWI conviction in Indiana, the fine can be as high as $500. However, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of your arrest was 0.15% or higher, the fine can go up to $5,000. 

In some cases, you could be facing a fine as high as $10,000. This is the case when: 

  • You’re facing your second or subsequent OWI charge in the last seven years
  • You’ve previously been convicted of OWI causing serious bodily injury or death
  • You’re charged with causing serious bodily injury or death

If you’re convicted of OWI in Indiana, you’ll most likely be required to complete a victim impact panel (VIP) class. These classes last about 1.5 hours and generally cost about $40. 

Alcohol Education Class: $200 to $400

Although Indiana law doesn’t require alcohol education courses for all OWI convictions, the court may require you to complete one. How much the course costs generally depends on the number of hours it spans and typically, the court requires longer courses for individuals convicted of OWI for the second or later time. Alcohol education classes generally start at just under $200 and can cost as much as $400. 

Ignition Interlock Device: About $100 + monitoring and maintenance costs

An ignition interlock device is an electronic device that prevents your car from starting unless you provide a clean breath sample. For a first-time OWI conviction, it’s possible for the court to require one to be installed in your car for up to 180 days after your license suspension period or while you are granted probationary or specialized driving privileges. For a second or subsequent conviction, it’s possible the court will require that one be installed in your car for a period following your license suspension. 

If the court requires an ignition interlock device to be installed in your car, you have to pay for it. Generally, installation costs about $100. An ignition interlock device isn’t a one-off cost, though. For as long as it’s in your car, you have to pay for its monitoring and maintenance, which comes out to an average of $60 to $80 per month. 

Probation: Varies

If you’re placed on probation, you’ll also face the costs associated with it. These include:

  • $125 application fee
  • Regular drug testing
  • Monthly supervision fee

The longer you’re on probation, the more you’ll pay in monthly probation expenses. 

Insurance Premium Increase: About 37%

If you have an OWI conviction on your record, expect your insurance premium to increase. Specifically, expect it to go up about 37% and stay there for at least three years. 

Grand Total: $1,000 or (most likely) more

When you tally up what an OWI conviction will cost, $1,000 is a low, conservative estimate. You’ll most likely have to pay more than this, especially when you factor in the cost of taking a taxi, rideshare or public transportation to work while your driver’s license is suspended, the cost of leaving jail on bond and the cost of losing your job or having to quit because you cannot reliably get there if you can’t drive. An OWI conviction can potentially cost you thousands of dollars and negatively impact your life for years, even decades. 

But remember, an OWI case isn’t always an open-and-shut deal. It might be in your best interest to fight your charge because you could potentially win. No matter what your circumstances are, it’s always in your best interest to discuss your case with an experienced OWI lawyer in detail to learn about your rights and get a feel for your legal options. 

Use your Money Wisely by Working with an OWI Defense Lawyer

When you’re facing an OWI charge, be proactive and start working with an experienced OWI defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact Blankenship Law, LLC today to schedule your initial legal consultation and get effective legal advice on how to move forward with your case.