The harsh reality of paying for an OUI

The average cost for a 1st offense OUI violation is $5,000, before trial and investigation fees

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The holidays call for eating, drinking, and being merry… but it’s easy to get carried away with alcohol. Getting behind the wheel drunk or even buzzed could seriously hurt someone, and also get you an O-U-I with hefty fines. An OUI fine could cost you a few hundred-bucks, but it’s the court and lawyer fees that add up quickly.

“I think that’s why people don’t really look at the financial part,” says Northampton attorney James Winston, “because it’s the other consequences that could be really tragic.”

First, let’s start out simple and look at the cost for a first-time OUI offense. The state says a violator for the first time needs to pay a fine anywhere between $500 and $5,000, depending on the offense itself. You’ll also need to factor in these minimum costs:

  • Attorney fee: $1,500
  • Court and probation costs: $2,500 ($80/month)
  • Car insurance surcharge: $800 / year
  • License reinstatement
  • Driving reinstatement classes
  • Car being towed
  • Transportation while license is suspended

In the end, you’re looking at a ballpark minimum total of $5,000 before trial and investigation fees. The cost only goes up with each OUI you get.

The chances of an OUI increase with large holiday celebrations, like Northampton’s First Night where thousands gather downtown. Mayor David Narkewicz told 22News, ” We want everyone who comes to visit to have a safe and enjoyable evening. We obviously don’t want people drinking and getting behind the wheel.” The mayor says he’s working with police to prevent any drunk driving this year.

Below are the punishments and fines of each OUI offense as laid out by the state:

  • 1st Offense: Up to 30 months in jail; $500 – $5,000 fines and penalties; license suspended for 1 year
  • 2nd Offense: 30 days to 30 months in jail; $600 – $10,000 fines and penalties; license suspended for 2 years
  • 3rd Offense: 150 days to 5 years in jail; $1,000 – $15,000 fines and penalties; license suspended for 8 years
  • 4th Offense: 1 to 5 years in jail; $1,500 – $25,000 fines and penalties; license suspended for 10 years
  • 5th Offense: 2 to 5 years in jail; $2,000 – $50,000 fines and penalties; license permanently suspended

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