How Much Does a First Offense Seattle DUI Cost?

Whenever I speak with someone for the first time about their driving under the influence (DUI) arrest, they always ask me the same thing: How much is this thing going to cost me?

Unfortunately, there is no standard amount when it comes to a DUI case. It can vary widely depending on the facts of the case, the eventual outcome, and whether investigators or experts are retained.


A few months ago, the Seattle Times spoke with a well known Bellevue DUI attorney about the estimated costs associated with a Seattle DUI, so I thought I would chime in and offer my opinion on what a standard DUI costs.

Assuming this is your first offense, the information presented below is simply an estimation of a DUI’s potential expenses, listed from the most to least costly:

1. Attorney Fee

In a DUI case, this will probably be the largest expense. Depending on the experience of the DUI Attorney and the facts of your case, this fee varies from attorney to attorney. In my practice, a standard fee for a first offense DUI costs anywhere from $4,000-$7,500.


2. Bail

Following an examination, DUI suspects are usually taken into custody. Suspects may pay money to be released from custody after being booked. Bail amounts are configured based on multiple factors, including the suspect’s:

  • Criminal record.
  • Threat to community.
  • The severity of the crime.
  • Relationship with family, employment, and community.
  • Likeliness person will “skip” trial and not appear as required.

If a bailed suspect does not appear at their designated court hearing, they will be subject to immediate arrest and the original bail will be forfeited.

3. Towing and Impound Fees

Following a DUI arrest, the suspect’s car must be impounded for at least 12 hours. In order to recover your vehicle, you must first locate and contact potential towing companies that may have your vehicle.

Once your vehicle is located, you must inquire as to the time and cost of its recovery. Different towing companies set different rates for impounding your vehicle, so the costs associated with towing and impounding fees are completely at their discretion.

4. DUI Fines

The fines associated with a DUI case vary depending on the outcome and whether probation costs are imposed. Generally for a first offense DUI this cost will range from $1,500-$3,000.

5. SR-22 Insurance

If your license gets suspended either administratively by the Department of Licensing or due to a DUI conviction, then SR-22 insurance is needed for at least three years. The cost of the insurance varies depending on the individual’s driving record and what insurance company they use. For instance, I have had clients actually save money by switching insurance companies to get a better deal on the SR-22, and I have had clients have to pay an extra $100 a month. My estimate is an additional $600-$1000 a year.


6. Ignition Interlock Requirements

This requirement depends on what happens in your case. If you lose your driver’s license administratively and apply for the ignition interlock license, then you would be required to carry the ignition interlock device anywhere from 90 days up to one year.

A DUI conviction for a first offense DUI carries an ignition interlock requirement of one to two years depending on the type of suspension and whether you want to apply for an ignition interlock license. The cost of an ignition interlock device varies ,but there is usually an installation fee of $100, plus monthly costs around $100-$150.

Additionally, if the device obtains a reading higher than the 0.02 blood alcohol content allowed, then you need to take the ignition interlock device back to the company that installed it to have it recalibrated. This costs around $100. I estimate a total cost anywhere from $500-$2500 for the ignition interlock device.

7. Alcohol and Drug Assessment and Recommended Treatment

Unless your DUI case is completely dismissed, regardless of the plea deal you decide to take in your DUI case, the judge will require you to complete an alcohol and drug assessment and any recommended treatment. The cost for the actual assessment is around $150. If it is your first offense, then you probably will only have to do the
8-hour alcohol drug information school class and the 2-hour victim impact panel class. Most places offer a discount to do both classes at the same time. This costs around $125.

8. Investigator Fees


Most DUI cases do not require an expert or investigator. For my practice, I regularly interview witnesses myself and conduct my interview of the arresting officer at the Department of Licensing hearing. I do this to save my clients money. When an investigator is needed, the cost is around $100 per hour.

9. Expert Fees

Most DUI cases do not require the use of an expert or investigator. However, there are situations when a DUI case is going to trial or there is a unique issue that requires an expert to clarify and help the client obtain a better outcome. Depending on the type of expert, and whether the case goes to trial, most local experts charge anywhere from $750-$2,000.

10. Alternative Transportation

While your license is revoked, you are responsible to find other methods of transportation. This can include a friend or family member, buses, or other forms of public transit. This can add other additional costs to the expense of your DUI arrest.

Therefore, a DUI worst case scenario is going to cost about $15,225 (this does not include expert or investigator fees).


Contact Leyba Defense

A DUI is a serious and expensive matter. When your driving record and financial security are on the line, Matthew Leyba of Leyba Defense in Seattle is the man for the job. Matthew Leyba is among some of the best DUI defense attorneys in Seattle. His confidence and skill equip him to collect resources, prepare cases, and effectively defend clients in court.

To contact Leyba Defense for a free 60-minute consultation, give Leyba Defense at call at 206.504.3131 or fill out our contact form.