What are the costs for a Raleigh DWI?

I'm often asked about the total costs for a DUI/DWI conviction in North Carolina.  Shea Denning at the UNC School of Government has posted a great blog outlining the costs.  Click this link for the full article.  See below for the main part of her blog dealing with the costs. 

My only fault with her article is the cost to hire an attorney.  Maybe the costs are cheaper in other parts of the state but I don't know any lawyers in Wake County who would charge less than $1,500 to handle a DWI charge.  My rates start at $1,500 and go up from there depending on the case. 

You also need to add the value of your time for 24 hours of community service, an hour for a substance abuse assesment, sixteen hours (low end) for doing the required treatment after the substance abuse assesment plus 10-20 hours in court over the length of your DWI fight in court plus your drive time to get to court and time away from your job to be in court.  Generally you could be looking at 50-80 hours of your time over the course of a year to challenge and then comply with a DWI if you are found guilty.

"The Bill for Driving While Impaired"

"Let’s take the case of a typical defendant who has never before been charged with or convicted of DWI. I’ll call him Forrest Firsttimer.

Forrest is arrested at a DWI checkpoint. He submits to a breath test, which reports an alcohol concentration of 0.08. Forrest is taken before a magistrate for an initial appearance. The magistrate revokes Forrest’s driver’s license for a minimum period of 30 days and releases Forrest on his written promise to appear. Eleven days later, Forrest applies for a limited driving privilege pursuant to G.S. 20-16.5(p). A district court judge issues the privilege. Forrest is required to pay a $100 processing fee to the clerk upon its issuance. That’s the first item on Forrest’s bill.

1. $100 processing fee for pre-trial limited driving privilege (G.S. 20-20.2)

Then, at the end of the 30-day minimum revocation period, Forrest must pay $100 to end the civil license revocation.

2. $100 for return of license civilly revoked (G.S. 20-16.5(j))

Forrest hires an attorney to represent him in the impaired driving case. The attorney charges Forrest a flat fee of $1,000.

3. $1,000 in attorneys’ fees

Forrest pleads guilty in district court. He is sentenced at Level 5, placed on 12 months of supervised probation, and is ordered to pay a $100 fine, to perform 24 hours of community service and to obtain a substance abuse assessment and complete the recommended education or treatment.

Forrest now must add the following items to his mounting bill:

4. $100 fine (G.S. 20-179(k) (permitting fine of up to $200 for Level 5 DWI))

5. $290 in court costs (This figure includes (i) the $190.00 standard costs amount for a Chapter 20 misdemeanor (G.S. 7A-304(a)(1) – (a)(4a), & (a)(9)) plus (ii) the $100.00 special costs amount for persons sentenced under G.S. 20-179 (G.S. 7A-304(a)(10))).

6. $480 in probation supervision fees (G.S. 15A-1343(c1) (establishing supervision fee of $40 per month))

7. a $250 community service fee (G.S. 143B-708(c))

8. a $100 fee to the agency that assesses his substance abuse problem (G.S. 122C-142.1(f))

9. $160 for the alcohol and drug treatment school ordered as a result of the assessment (G.S. 122C-142.1(f))

Forrest’s driver’s license is revoked for one year upon his conviction. G.S. 20-17(a)(2); G.S. 20-19(c1). He applies for a limited driving privilege at sentencing. Upon its issuance, he is required to pay $100.

10. $100 for post-conviction limited driving privilege (G.S. 20-20.2)

When the revocation year expires, Forrest will be required to pay $100 for the restoration of his driver’s license.

11. $100 license restoration fee (G.S. 20-7(i1))

Forrest’s bill now totals $2,780, but we haven’t taken into account one of his largest expenses—his increased automobile liability insurance. A DWI conviction results in 12 insurance points. That translates to a 340 percent increase in the cost of his coverage. If he paid $600 in annual insurance premiums before the DWI conviction, his premiums will now total $2,640.

11. $2,040 in increased insurance premiums

In total, Forrest’s DWI has cost him $4,820.

And his bill doesn’t include many of the substantial charges assessed in some impaired driving cases. Those include the $600.00 lab fee in G.S. 7A-304(a)(7) or (a)(8), the $600.00 lab analyst testimony fee in G.S. 7A-304(a)(11) and (a)(12), jail fees of $10 per day for pretrial confinement and $40 a day for imprisonment under a split sentence (G.S. 7A-313), and the costs of ignition interlock and continuous alcohol monitoring.

All this makes cab fare look pretty cheap."


Wiley Nickel

Wiley Nickel lives and works in Cary, North Carolina. In 1998, he graduated from Tulane University with a major in Political Science and a minor in History. After college Wiley went to work for Al Gore and travelled with the Vice President as part of his national advance staff. Following the Gore campaign he earned his law degree from the Pepperdine University School of Law in 2005. While in law school Wiley worked as a law clerk in the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office where he gained valuable criminal trial experience before taking and passing the California bar exam. His first job out of law school was for the Merced County District Attorney’s Office where he worked as a Deputy District Attorney with a focus on prosecuting DWI offenders. Wiley later joined the Law Offices of Joseph Uremovic where he focused on civil litigation and family law. When the opportunity came to join the Obama campaign in 2008 Wiley jumped at the chance. He spent three years travelling with President Obama as a member of his national advance team. In 2011 Wiley left his work for the White House to return to the practice of law. Wiley devotes the majority of his practice to the areas of criminal law, family law, traffic tickets and DMV issues. The Law Offices of Wiley Nickel was started with the goal of providing the best representation possible for all of his clients. Experienced, Compassionate, Aggressive Criminal Defense While defense attorney Wiley Nickel works as the primary attorney for all of his cases, he does have an associate attorney, a team of investigators, forensic consultants, and support staff to call on to help achieve the best possible result in every case. He limits his case load so that he can focus on providing the best possible legal defense to all of his clients. Every case is a top priority and the goal is to have your case dismissed with a focus on being able to expunge your charges at the end of the process. When he is not working, Wiley is an avid family man, distance runner and golfer. He loves North Carolina college sports and is hoping this is the year for Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. Wiley is licensed to practice law in North Carolina and California.