East Hawaii News

New Analysis Calculates DUI ‘True Cost’

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NerdWallet recently conducted an analysis on actual costs of an arrest and conviction for driving under the influence of an intoxicant. The study showed that drivers on the Big Island who are arrested for a DUI are likely to pay a minimum “true cost” totaling $3,358.72 as a result of the offense.

The “true cost” of a DUI conviction is composed of three costs: the fine, which in Hawai’i can be anywhere from $150 to $1,000, ignition interlock device fees, up to $150 for initial installation and up to $80 a month to monitor and calibrate, and an insurance premium increase.

NerdWallet’s study did not include other costs associated, including legal fees and time lost from work.

According to the study, in 2012, the number of DUI arrests in Hawai’i was 7,346. Three percent of adults in the state claimed they had drank too much and then driven within the prior three days. The national average at the time was 1.9 percent, the study cited from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Insurance is one of the biggest expenses in the state when faced with a DUI charge. The study reported that vehicle insurance is expected to rise over 75 percent, up to $1,765.80 a year, compared to the statewide average of $999.85. This increase can last for years.

Big Island residents can expect to pay an increased premium that is even higher than the state average, according to the study. It was noted that on the Big Island, drivers on average pay $1,075.33 a year for vehicle insurance. After a DUI ,that number on average jumps by $806.24 to $1,881.57, and in three years, it’s nearly $2,418.72 of increase insurance fees.

According to NerdWallet, the minimum “true cost” that Big Island residents would incur as a result of a DUI conviction is $3,358.72, while the “true cost” high end can be up to $4,528.72.


In comparison, the Big Island’s “true cost” numbers are somewhat average when compared to Oahu and Maui.

Oahu was rated as having the highest “true cost” amount in the state, with a minimum cost of $3,408.79 and a maximum cost of $4,578.79. Maui, on the other hand, was rated in the study as having the lowest “true cost” in the state, with a minimum cost of $2,961.25 and a maximum cost of $4,131.25.

The study utilized calculations of minimum and maximum fines that are mandated by courts in Hawai’i, ignition interlock fees, and three years of insurance premium increases. Although DUI-related costs vary from person to person, NerdWallet used the data to create minimum and maximum margins based on averages. To calculate a generalized insurance premium increase, the study used average annual car premiums for drivers who initially had clean records. The average increase was then calculated for drivers who were convicted of a DUI with a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 percent.


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