There’s an old joke among taxi drivers. If you come out of a bar or nightclub and ask a driver how much your fare will cost, he or she might say, “You can ride with me, or you can take the $10,000 ride in the cab with the flashing lights.” While costs vary from state to state and depend on the specific charge and a driver’s previous record, the cabbies aren’t wrong; the estimated average national cost of being charged with DUI is about $10,000, according to Let’s look at how that breaks down:

1. Your big immediate cost will be hiring an experienced DUI defense attorney. You must do this. An average fee is about $2500, although this will vary slightly, again, depending on your location, the severity of the charge, and your previous record. Yes, a good DUI defense lawyer can be costly, but all things considered, you’ll actually be saving money. Facing a DUI charge without an experienced DUI attorney at your side has hidden costs that are hard to imagine. Again, taxi drivers will tell you; every day, they drive the people whose licenses are suspended because of DUI convictions, and getting around in taxis for a few years because you can’t drive is an expense no one wants to consider.

2. When you are arrested, your car is going to be towed … somewhere. In Chicago, for example, the charge is $1,200 for just the first 24 hours. In most locations, you’re going to pay between $100 and $1,500. Storage can really hurt; if you can’t make bail and claim your vehicle immediately, the storage meter just keeps ticking.

3. A DUI will dramatically increase your auto insurance rates, and the truth is they may never return to the level that you’re paying right now.

4. Bail – the cost of freedom until your trial date – will typically cost between $150 and $2,500, again depending on location, severity of the charge, and your previous record. If you need to borrow from a bail bondsman, count on paying significantly more.

5. Most states educate DUI offenders with mandatory enrollment in alcohol abuse and awareness programs or classes. Costs vary (in most states it’s about $500), but if you are charged with DUI, you’ll spend both time and money on alcohol awareness education in a classroom-type situation.

6. Finally, court fines for DUI charges can wildly fluctuate, but a typical fine is between $350 and $1,500. These are the fines similar to speeding ticket fines, and you’ll have to pay them whether or not you plead guilty. An experienced DUI defense attorney can usually have these fines significantly reduced.

If you facing a DUI charge, it’s imperative to have quality legal representation from an experienced DUI defense attorney who will answer your questions, defend you aggressively, and work to have your charges dropped or reduced. An experienced DUI defense attorney will seek the best possible resolution of your case. Your freedom – and your hard-earned money – is too important to risk.