DMV & Impound Costs
Interviewer: What about the DMV hearing?
Matthew Nebeker: Yeah, that’s what I mentioned earlier. On almost every DUI I’ve seen or handled, the police officer has impounded the vehicle. To go and get the car out of impound, the driver has to go to the Utah Department of Motor Vehicles as soon as they open. If this happens on a Friday night, they have to wait until Monday morning and they have to go and pay an administrative impound fee and that’s basically just a piece of paper. You pay $350, they give you a piece of paper that you then can take to the towing company to tell them it’s okay to release your vehicle.
That’s what happens with the driver’s license portion of it and getting the car returned by paying the impound fee. However, if you request a hearing within the 10 days and you attend the driver’s license hearing to see if they’re going to give the license back, and you win that hearing – and we do win quite a few of them – then that $350 impound fee can be refunded and returned to the driver.
Interviewer: I’ve heard that cars that have been impounded for a long time, like several years, get completely taken away. Does that ever happen?
Matthew Nebeker: Yeah, what you’re talking about there is, like I mentioned, for every person that’s arrested for a DUI, the vehicle is impounded and it has to be towed and taken to the storage yard, and those people want their money for storing the car on their lot. Part of what they’re doing is they’re not only storing it but they’re supposedly making sure that it’s safe, that no one breaks into it, and so they have a lot of fees associated with that, and so every day, you’re looking at $30 to $50 a day for the car to sit there.
Some people, by the time they bail out of jail and hire an attorney, don’t have the extra money to go down and pay the $350 to the state of Utah and then go and pay the towing fee ($300 to $500) and then the storage fees. Those storage fees add up quickly and so a lot of times, people will just let their car go.
I had one about a year ago; the guy had a Toyota truck that he still owed some money on. He couldn’t afford to go get it and so he just left it there and was just going to let the lien holder deal with it because he couldn’t afford to get it out because by the time he got out of jail and got some of his other stuff taken care of, there was no way he could go and get the truck. He lost it; he lost any equity that he had in it. He lost any of his personal belongings that were in it.
Interviewer: What about insurance coverage? What about the fees for that? Do they increase?
Matthew Nebeker: Orlando, that is a good question when it comes to insurance and a DUI. I do get that question a lot from my clients and a lot of people are under the belief that you have to have an SR22 as special insurance coverage, and that’s not the case in Utah.
If you have a driving with no insurance conviction, then you have to get the SR22, but in the case of a DUI where you’re convicted and that is reported to the driver’s license division, what usually happens is that when the driver renews their policy (usually most policies are for six-month terms or something like that), the insurance company will run their record, their driving history, their license, and they’ll see the new conviction on the record.
What usually happens then, depending on the insurance company, based on my experience, some insurance companies do not want to carry such “high-risk” people – in their opinion – so they’ll just terminate the insurance policy. They won’t renew it, essentially, and then there are the other insurance companies that see this and they’ll see it as an opportunity to take advantage of a driver, unfortunately.
For most of my clients, this DUI conviction is a first-time and a one-time thing in their lives, but some of the insurance companies will increase the rates. Sometimes they’ll double or even triple their rates or their premiums for having a driver on their policy that has a DUI or impaired, alcohol- or drug-related driving conviction.
It can be expensive. I’ve looked at some of the numbers on this before in trying to figure out the true costs of a DUI. What I’ve seen is I think that the insurance company usually looks at the DUI for about three years. It’s going to be on the record, and I think the average that I come up with is $4,500 to $5,500 in increased insurance costs over a three-year period.
On top of some of the fines the person has already paid, the insurance increase is a pretty big hit, too, when you’re talking an average of $5,000.