Sunday, February 22, 2009

The Very Expensive (and Rising) Costs of a Chicago DUI Conviction (or for that matter anywhere in Cook County)

The Secretary of State has a nice chart outlining the average costs of a DUI conviction. The total shown is $14,660, and includes only the direct costs associated with a conviction. That figure is very conservative, out of date, and does not include many very expensive and little-known financial consequences of a DUI conviction.

The Secretary of State's estimate does not include the current costs of a BAIID device that is now required in order for a first-time offender to drive while his or her DUI is pending, as I previously discussed here . I anticipate that in the foreseeable and near future, a BAIID device will be a condition for a first time offender to retain his or her driving privileges after receiving court supervision.

Employers may wrongly perceive a DUI conviction as an indicator of a drinking problem, and may very well be unconsciously influenced when putting together their list of who's next for the pink slip.

Most prospective new employers ask about arrests and convictions on their applications forms. Given a lot of people chasing very few jobs right now, anyone truthfully answering those kind of questions has, in my estimation, significantly reduced their chances of moving their job application forward, all other things being equal. Anyone answering untruthfully will almost certainly be found out, thus digging a deeper hole for themselves.

Anyone convicted of a DUI is almost certain to lose their driving privileges. Even if that person keeps their job, they now have the problem of having to take public transportation to and from work (not fun in this winter weather), relying on family and friends, or driving illegally and facing getting caught.

How long can the average Chicago resident afford to go without a paycheck? Why put a decent livelihood at risk? In the current job market, no one can afford to not put on the strongest legal defense. Nobody should be pleading guilty ("taking a plea") because of the apparent low costs of hiring a cheap lawyer who doesn't understand all the ins and outs of the many recent developments in the increasingly complex area of DUI law. Spending a few hundred dollars could end up costing you many tens of thousands of dollars in lost income, damaged employability, and future job prospects. Hiring an experienced Chicago DUI lawyer who concentrates his or her practice in this area will likely save big money, pretty much starting right away.

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