Allegations of operating while intoxicated (OWI) are some of the most common criminal charges pursued in Michigan. Police officers arrest some people during traffic stops and others at the scene of car crashes for allegedly driving after having too much to drink.
Many people, including those with no prior criminal record, may assume that pleading guilty to an OWI charge is the best response to this situation. They may view it as a victimless crime and believe that the expense involved in defending themselves is not worth it given the penalties imposed by the state.
However, these individuals may end up paying far more in the long run because a Michigan OWI is very expensive. These are just a few of the reasons why impaired driving allegations are so costly in Michigan.
Insurance increases and state fees
What someone pays for insurance is a reflection of their selected coverage and their risk, as estimated by an insurance company. Impaired driving allegations will make someone appear far more dangerous to insurance providers and will therefore increase what they’re required to pay for coverage.
Michigan already has relatively steep insurance costs compared with the rest of the country. Despite no-fault reform, drivers still pay far more for insurance here than in most other states. The average policy in Michigan costs $3,096 per year. Once a driver has a serious issue on their record, the policy will cost far more. A driver with an OWI conviction will pay an average of $9,159 for insurance each year, an increase of 196%!
Drivers can also expect to pay licensing fees. Someone convicted of an OWI offense will have to pay a special fee annually for the first two years after their conviction. That will cost them $1,000 each year or $2,000 in total.
The career and social costs of a conviction
People often hope to avoid secondary consequences for an OWI by pleading guilty and not going to trial. However, the social reputation of an OWI offender will usually take a hit.
Their professional ambitions may suffer as well. Many employers in Michigan perform background checks when hiring new people or considering them for promotions. Some companies will terminate workers with new criminal convictions, while others will pass them over for advancement opportunities.
Given the subtle social and career consequences of an OWI conviction, it is very difficult to put a precise value on such charges. However, they will likely cost far more than a successful defense would cost. Fighting back against OWI charges can preserve people’s reputations and their financial futures.