Does a DUI Effect Your Credit Score?

A conviction for a DUI does not directly effect your credit score. However, if you are like millions of Americans who don't have the cash resources to easily pay for the thousands of dollars incurred in fines, costs, and legal fees, a DUI conviction can indirectly cause your credit score to tank.

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Effects of a DUI

DUI convictions will be a stain on your driving record and criminal record for years and in some states stay on your record indefinitely, but these convictions are not reported directly to credit agencies. Problems with credit scores result when drivers need to go into debt, or use credit cards in order to pay for the tens of thousands of dollars of debt incurred as a result of legal fees, fines, court costs and mandatory alcohol rehabilitation type classes.

Furthermore, many drivers lose their employment as a result of DUI related drivers license suspensions or revocations. For these individuals an adverse effect on their credit score is likely. Finally, if you received a DUI and were involved in an accident resulting in bodily injury or property damage you may have a civil judgment against you and that judgment will impact your credit adversely.

DUI costs will likely include

  • Fines and Court Costs: In addition to paying for legal counsel, fines court costs and court costs for a first time DUI offenders will range between $500.00 and $4,000.00. These include fines in excess as $3,600.00 and in the amount of $750.00. See: Illinois 2020 Fact Book page 21.  Most courts allow these to be paid in installments. 
  • Private Legal Counsel: If you hire a private attorney legal fees ranging from $1,000.00 to $15,000. These fees range dramatically depending on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor, or a felony. Most first time DUI offenders will be charged approximately Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) .See Illinois 2020 Fact Book. Most DUI attorneys accept credit cards and a large percentage of DUI offenders choose to pay with them.
  • City Vehicle Impound Fees: Following an arrest for DUI your vehicle will likely be towed and impounded. In order to retrieve it you will face towing, impound and storage fees ranging from $200.00 to $2,000.00. Fees accrue daily and the longer your car stays impounded the more you will pay. These fees can be paid with credit cards and most lots will not release your vehicle until all costs are satisfied.
  • Rehabilitation Classes: Alcohol education classes are required by many states. The A-1 driving school in Atlanta, Georgia charges $355.00 for first time offenders and several thousand dollars for repeat offenders who are required to take more extensive and longer classes. Most schools accept major credit cards. Many offer payment plans, but the catch is most schools threaten to expel students for failure to pay. Expulsion can be devastating, and ruin any chance for probation. 
  • Ignition Interlocking Programs: Ignition Interlock Device (IID) fees range from $500.00 to $1,000.00. An ignition interlock device is commonly installed in an offenders vehicle following a conviction for a DUI. These devices detect the driver’s blood alcohol content and will prevent vehicle operation if alcohol is detected. There are one time installation fees, and monthly monitoring and maintenance fees. See: Illinois 2020 DUI Fact Book page 19.  A failure to pay these fees will result in a loss of judicial driving permits, and potentially a costly loss of employment, as well as the possible revocation of your probation. Increased Insurance Premiums: If you are convicted of DUI most states will require that you purchase costly high-risk auto insurance for a period of three (3) years. This insurance costs on average an additional Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) per year. That is an additional Six Thousand Dollars ($6,000.00) of insurance premiums for three years. See: Illinois 2020 DUI Fact Book page 21
  • Restitution for Property Damage: In the event your DUI resulted in property damage to property other than to your personal vehicle you are responsible for making the property owner whole, or paying what the legal system calls “restitution”. This means paying the costs to repair, or replace, the damaged property. Failure to pay restitution costs will result in a civil judgment, or adverse effects on your credit.
  • Civil Judgments for Bodily Injuries and Property Damages: A DUI that involves bodily injuries and /or property damages may result in a civil judgment for damages. You may be required to hire additional legal counsel other than your DUI attorney. In this case your credit score will likely be adversely effected as a result of a judgment.
  • Reinstating Drivers License: Most states will automatically suspend your driving privileges following an arrest for DUI. In order to have your right to drive reinstated you will likely have to pay the Secretary of State. This could cost as much as $500.00. See: Illinois 2020 DUI Fact Book page 19. Of course, they will accept all major credit cards.
  • Loss of Employment: Probably the most expensive cost of a DUI is the loss of employment. If you are a professional driver, or CDL operator you are simply out of business. This will cost you thousands and thousands of dollars.

If you are a multiple DUI offender, or aggravated DUI offender, these above costs can double or triple. Any of the above unpaid costs and expenses may be sent to collections where they remain on your record for seven (7) years or more.

As reported, a DUI arrest and conviction is expensive. The majority of Americans go into debt while dealing with the suspension or revocations of driving privileges that are a part of this stressful process. DUI’s are not reported to credit reporting agencies, but the reality is that unless you are one of the small minority of individuals who can afford to pay approximately Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) in fines and fees you will go into debt, and your credit rating will be adversely affected as a result. Unfortunately, this negative effect on your credit is likely whether you are ultimately convicted of DUI, or are ultimately proven innocent of these charges.

DUI Resources

DUI Resources

DUI Resources is a website dedicated to providing help and information to individuals who were arrested under the suspicion of driving under the influence.
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