We've taken the position that years of cab rides are cheaper than a first time DWI would be. We've tweeted about it, but we decided to break it down at the lowest possible cost a DWI might carry. This is not an average of what things will cost but our rock-bottom-estimate.
There are two assumptions underlying this estimate. First, you will continue to drive and pay for insurance after the DWI. Second, cab rides cost no more than $10. Third, the cost of getting around after your license is revoked is zero. Fourth, we assume that the case is not dismissed due to a technicality or lack of evidence. Finally, we assume that there were no other aggravating factors present.
Let's start with the obvious, the fine. A first time, misdemeanor DWI, comes with a maximum fine of $1,000. This is pretty steep but odds are good you are not going to be fined $1,000 on a first time DWI, let's say you get a $300 fee here.
However, in addition to the fine there are "fees" with each case. Library fees and court fees will run you around $70-80. Potentially there will be fees for probation and costs for conditions of probation (i.e. MADD panels and chemical evaluations). These will run you around $200 total.
Additionally, your license will be suspended. In order to get it back you need to pay a $680 reinstatement fee and $25 for a new license. $705 total for this. Your license revocation will also result in an increase to your insurance rates. This is where things get pricey as your insurance rates will go up for multiple years. I've seen various numbers for increases in insurance premiums for DWI, 100% increases on the low end and as high as a 300% on the high end. Generally the consensus is that it will cost you around $1,000 per year for a DWI. At three years that is $3,000.
Then factor the attorney fees in as well. You might get a deal and end up paying the attorney around $1,000 but odds are the attorney will cost more than that ($2,000-$7,000).
Adding it all up
That totals $5,200 and assumes the attorney only cost a $1,000.
But what would it cost to take a cab every time you went out drinking? Let's assume that you always take a cab alone, and that the cab ride each way costs $10. If every night of drinking is $20 in cab rides a $5,200 DWI is 260 nights of cab rides. If you were to go out drinking 108 times a year (every Friday and Saturday for the year) for two years you would get 216 cab rides.
Think about that the next time you are planning on going out. Especially if you can share cabs with friends.