How Much Does a DUI Cost in North Carolina?

Doug Edwards

Celebrating special occasions with friends and family can be exciting. Laughing, spending quality time together, and sharing food and drinks can make for an enjoyable experience. Unfortunately, overindulging during these times can reduce your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Choosing to drive while under the influence of alcohol or other substances could result in jail time, but it will certainly be an expensive decision. The costs associated with a DUI in North Carolina can be significant and extend beyond the court process. If you are charged with a DUI, it would be wise to seek the help of an Asheville, NC, DUI Attorney.


DUI, or driving under the influence, was originally used to refer to driving with alcohol in one’s system. However, lawmakers now use the phrase “driving while impaired,” or DWI. Alcohol impacts the central nervous system and therefore impacts the body’s normal physical and mental functions. However, alcohol is not the only way that these impairments can be caused. Consuming drugs or prescription medications can lead to physical or mental limitations, which can also impair a person’s ability to safely and properly operate a motor vehicle.

Cost of a DUI

From the moment of your DUI arrest, the costs that you could incur from a DUI or a DWI begin to add up. Once arrested, you will likely be booked into jail, where you will need to post bond for your immediate release. If you do not, you will wait until you are arraigned.

In addition, a 30-day suspension will be placed on your license. However, you may be granted certain conditions that allow you to begin driving again after 10 days. That privilege, however, comes with a cost, as it is only allowed after taking a substance abuse assessment that will likely be approximately $100.

This privilege may be worth the cost, as the suspension of your license may impact your ability to travel to work, which could further impact your income. However, the fee only covers the remainder of the 30-day suspension, after which you can pay another $100 to have your license restored.

30 Days After Arrest

Throughout your first 30 days, you will need to be thinking about your legal options and representation. While you may be able to save money by working with a public defender, their caseload can be exhausting, meaning that they are not able to provide the time and attention that your case may need. While prices for a DUI attorney may vary, the general cost of a skilled and experienced attorney will be approximately $2,500. This may seem high, but if your attorney can help you reach an acquittal, then the costs you could incur end there. Unfortunately, if you are convicted, the toll will continue to rise.

If you are arrested because you were under the influence of drugs, then you may be required to take the aforementioned substance abuse assessment if you did not previously. The results of this may require treatment, which can further incur at least a minimum of $150, depending on the severity and extent of the treatment necessary.

Some penalties may allow for community service as opposed to serving jail time. However, this also comes with a fee of $250. This fee is in addition to any fines that you may be assessed, which are at the judge’s discretion and could vary from as little as $100 to as high as $4,000.

Court costs will be upwards of $190, as there is a $100 fee added to any court costs for DUI cases. There are also costs associated with processing your blood as part of the case, which could total $1,200 for lab processing and any subpoenas necessary for blood analysts.

Additional Costs

The legal costs alone are not all that you will financially contend with. If you are convicted, or if you were in an accident because of your impairment, you will also face rising insurance premiums, which increase on average by about 400%. Depending on your insurance company, those costs will remain for several years.

If your license is suspended or revoked as a part of the penalty, then you will need to consider the financial impacts of transportation costs. You may need to pay for a ride-share, bus transportation, train, or any other means of travel. While these costs may seem low at the moment, daily necessities may find them adding up fast.

Even if your driving privileges are not revoked, your vehicle may be required to have an ignition interlock device installed, which will require you to blow into the machine before your car will start. Installation could be $150, and you will then be responsible for all proper maintenance costs as well.

FAQs About How Much Does a DUI Cost in North Carolina

How Much Are DUI Fees in North Carolina?

The total cost for a DUI without court fees could be around $4,000, depending on the severity of your case. With varying court fees, jail expenses, and probation requirements, your total costs could easily exceed $10,000. Discussing potential costs and fees should be a priority when you first speak with your DWI attorney.

What Is the Penalty for a First-Time DUI in North Carolina?

The penalties you could receive for a DUI in North Carolina are dependent on the circumstances of the infraction. The severity of your penalty will be determined by:

  • Your blood alcohol content
  • The manner in which you were driving
  • Whether your impairment caused an accident, injury, or death

For a Level 5 infraction, the lowest, you can anticipate up to 60 days in jail, fines of approximately $200, and the suspension of your license for a year.

Will I Go to Jail for a First DUI in North Carolina?

Jail time for a first DUI will depend on the circumstances of the arrest. If you were abiding by all traffic laws, had a BAC of .09% or lower, and did not endanger others, you will likely not face jail time. However, as your BAC increases, or if other moving violations may be applicable, the chances of jail time will rise.

Can a DUI Be Dismissed in North Carolina?

The odds that a DUI charge in North Carolina will be reduced or dismissed are minimal. However, there are certain instances that could result in those charges being dismissed. If law enforcement fails to properly administer a breathalyzer, if your blood sample was not properly handled, or if your civil rights were violated, these could all be reasons why your DUI case could be dismissed.

Asheville, NC, DUI Attorney

The cost of a DUI in North Carolina should easily make the decision not to drive that much easier. With so many financial obligations that could result from a DUI, choosing to hand over your keys, finding alternate transportation, or simply knowing your legal limits can help you avoid these unnecessary costs. However, if you find yourself facing a DUI charge, contact Edwards Law, PLLC, and let one of our attorneys evaluate your situation.