The Costs of a DWI

The Costs of a DWI can vary significantly

30 Dec 16

***Note- While this article was written in advance of new years eve, the cost estimates remain the same.  

In the St. Louis area and throughout Missouri this weekend many people will be attending New Year’s Eve parties and enjoying the company of others and quite possibly some alcoholic beverages. One thing to keep in mind over the holiday weekend, and throughout the New Year, is the cost of drinking and driving.

Putting aside the overall dangers of drinking and driving I wanted to provide a glimpse into just the financial costs of getting a typical first time DWI in the State of Missouri. Looking at just the costs of receiving a ticket for a DWI, one can easily see that the alternatives are much cheaper. Small disclaimer: all figure are approximations, every case is different, and no DWI case is actually “typical”. So take the numbers with a grain of salt and look at the bigger picture.

Typical Costs for a First Time DWI

Fines: up to $500
In Missouri your typical first time DWI is considered a Class B Misdemeanor, which carries with it a punishment of up to $1000 in fines, as well as up to 6 months in jail. However, an attorney may be able to negotiate an alternative disposition where a first time offender is able to avoid a conviction and jail time and instead be placed on probation. Keep in mind that if you are placed on probation for a DWI in Missouri you will likely be required to pay fees to the supervising probation agency. See more information on this below.

Court Costs: $100 or more

As with every court case, from simple speeding tickets to more complicated felony criminal charges, there will be court costs associated with the case that must be paid at the conclusion of your court case.

Probation Fees: $600

Typically courts will require a first time DWI offender to be placed on probation for a period of 2 years. These individuals are normally supervised by a private probation company in the St. Louis area and thus, it is up to the individual to pay for such fees associated with the private probation office’s supervision.

SATOP: $505 – $1381

SATOP, or Substance Abuse Traffic Offender’s Program, is typically a required condition of probation ordered by the court. In addition the Department of Revenue also requires DWI offenders to complete the program in order to reinstate your driving privileges following a license suspension relating to DWI. There are multiple levels of the SATOP program, the cost of which vary based upon the level of which you are required to complete. Keep in mind that the assessment fee itself is currently $375.

VIP: $45

A VIP program, or Victims Impact Panel, is also a typical requirement of probation.

Misc. Costs for the Criminal case:

Other costs associated with a DWI could include a SCRAM device (an alcohol-monitoring device typically worn on your ankle) required by the court during Probation which costs approximately $12 a day to use. The court may also require an individual to install an Ignition Interlock Device on his or her vehicle which can cost around $75 a month to use. In some cases, an individual arrested for driving under the influence or while impaired may also be required to pay a bond to get released from jail after being arrested. An individual’s car may also be towed adding storage and recovery fees to the costs of a DWI. Some individuals may also be ordered to do community service by the court which may take away time from work.

Misc. Costs Non-Criminal:

In addition to the criminal costs of a DWI, there are intangible costs which will impact an individual including:

  • Lost wages due to court dates or jail time
  • Insurance premiums increased- SR-22 insurance is commonly required in Missouri if your license was suspended because of a DWI arrest
  • Suspension of license, from 90 days to a year
  • Cost of seeking transportation if license is suspended

Attorney Fees: from $1000 and up

Of course, we can’t forget about the Attorney Fees. A DWI is a serious and complicated charge. This is not a type of case that one would want to handle on their own. It is important that someone charged with a DWI seek the help of a qualified and experienced St. Charles DWI Attorney . Of course, attorneys do not work for free, so this is another cost to be factored into the cost of a DWI. For more information about our DWI law firm, click here.


Looking at just some of the costs, including a small fine, probation, Level 1 of SATOP and the low end of the attorney fees, an individual is looking at costs of at least $2500. This is for a first time offense, no accident and no additional tickets being issued. Most first time DWI’s will cost than this. Meaning, that $8 martini you have to top off the night might end up costing a lot more in the long run.

The Alternatives

Does this mean you can’t have fun on New Year’s Eve? Of course not! There are a variety of alternatives that will end up costing a lot less than receiving a DWI from your local law enforcement.

Taxi or Transportation Services: Extreme case:

“Taking a Cab” is probably the most widely used alternative to driving while intoxicated. Typical taxi fares can run between $10-$40 depending on the length of the ride and number of passengers, much cheaper than the $2500 costs of a DWI.

But let’s look at the extreme case: According to Google Maps, the distance to drive from the St. Louis Arch all the way out to Troy, Missouri in Lincoln County is close to 60 miles. Looking at some typical fares and rates around the St. Louis area, this 60 mile trip would run around $140 not including gratuity (and you better tip well for a 60 mile drive). So, even in an extreme case of downtown St. Louis to 60 miles away, an individual would save over $2300 by taking a cab home instead of receiving a DWI ticket.

Add to this fact that numerous companies are offering free taxi services on New Year’s Eve and it’s a no-brainer.

Hotel: Extreme Case: $259

Want to enjoy the New Year and have even less to worry about: book a hotel! With all the options of finding a hotel online now days it’s hard to tell you the typical price of a night’s stay. So, again, we’ll look at an extreme case: a 5 star hotel in downtown St. Louis. Doing a quick search shows the price of one night on the weekend to be roughly $259 a night. A stay at one of the nicest hotels in St. Louis nets a savings of roughly $2200 over a DWI ticket.

Bottom-line: Don’t Drink and Drive

The Costs of a DWI are NOT Worth it

Plan ahead this year and have a plan for getting where you need to be after the festivities are over. Spending a little more on your night out could save you lots of money, aggravation and embarrassment in the long run. More importantly, it could save your life or the life of another.

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