Pennsylvania DUI arrests: Understanding the costs

Most worry about the possibility of jail time following a DUI arrest, but there are numerous other costs that may add up quickly.

Every day, numerous people are arrested for suspected drunk driving in Pennsylvania. In fact, there were 47,908 DUI arrests in 2014 alone, according to the Pennsylvania Uniform Crime Reporting system. When people think of the consequences of such arrests, the potential for jail time is often their largest concern. However, those charged with drunk driving may also face several other penalties, the costs of which may add up quickly.


In lieu of or in addition to being sentenced to jail or probation, people who are convicted of impaired driving may be fined. The amount of such fines depends on several factors, including drivers’ prior arrest records and their blood alcohol content levels. With a BAC level of between .08 percent and 0.099 percent, people may be fined $300 for a first-time alcohol-related conviction, from $300 to $2,500 if they have one prior DUI conviction, and between $500 and $5,000 if they have two or more previous drunk driving convictions. The fines increase to between $500 and $10,000 for motorists who have a BAC level of between 0.10 percent and 0.159 percent. With a BAC level of 0.16 percent or higher, people may be fined anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000, depending on their prior records.


The hits to the pocketbook following a drunk driving arrest do not stop with the fines. There are also numerous associated fees. If motorists’ vehicles are towed after they are arrested, it may cost a flat rate of $50, in addition to mileage. Furthermore, they may be responsible for paying between $75 and $175 per day if their automobiles are also impounded.

With prior convictions and at higher BAC levels, people’s driving privileges may be suspended as a result of a DUI arrest. Once their suspension period is up, motorists must pay a $25 reinstatement fee for general driver’s licenses or a $75 fee for commercial driver’s licenses. In cases when people are ordered to use ignition interlock devices, they must pay the associated installation and monthly monitoring fees.

Education and treatment

Under some circumstances, people who are convicted of alcohol-related offenses may be ordered to participate in alcohol education courses or a treatment program. The expenses relating to such programs are the responsibility of the drivers themselves, not the state. An alcohol evaluation typically costs between $35 and $100 and education and treatment programs may range in costs from $100 to $1,000 or more.

Miscellaneous expenses

In addition to the fines, fees, and education and treatment expenses, there are several other miscellaneous costs associated with DUI arrests. This includes an increase in their automobile insurance premiums, which might cost them as much as $1,000 more each year. Additionally, being convicted of drunk driving may affect people’s current employment, and their future job opportunities.

When people are eligible for the state’s accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, they may avoid some of the court costs and legal fees. However, the program is not free. The legal costs associated with the ARD program may be between $100 and $1,800.

Obtaining legal counsel

DUI arrests may have a profound impact on people’s personal and professional lives, as well as on their pocketbooks. Therefore, those who have been charged with drunk driving may benefit from working with a legal representative. A lawyer may look out for their rights and interests, and help them limit the short-term and long-term implications of their arrests.