The intangible cost can have a long-term impact, too, experts say.
That holds especially true in an area such as Augusta, where there are hundreds of service personnel and medical professionals on the roads. DUI convictions threaten a medical student's career. Army officers can lose their commission, and soldiers can be barred from re-enlistment.
There are other problems.
"Marriages are broken up, careers are lost. Quite frankly, I know of suicides that occur incidental to DUI," said Augusta lawyer Elmer Young.
The financial cost of a DUI starts the minute the handcuffs click around a driver's wrist. The car will be towed and accumulate storage fees until it's recovered by the owner.
Bond is next, followed by a $150 fee to apply for an administrative license court hearing.
That's before you step into court.
What you pay an attorney varies, but count on at least $1,500. An attorney who will take the case to trial and investigate the evidence can cost $25,000.
"There's a lot of time and effort," said Young, who declined to disclose his exact fees.
Fines for a misdemeanor DUI are at least $1,000, with other court fees boosting that figure up to $1,600.
Probation costs follow at $39 a month, for the minimum year of probation required by Georgia law, costing about $468. All told, the initial financial impact of a DUI is easily $5,000, Richmond County Solicitor General Charles Evans said.
"It's very inconsiderate," Evans said about a DUI arrest. "It's so easy to find somebody to take you home."
After your license is reinstated (that's an additional $270), auto insurance will consider you a high-risk driver, meaning an increase of from $3,600 to $6,600 over three years. If you hurt someone or damage property as a consequence of your DUI, a civil suit could be forthcoming.
Jobs -- current and future -- are often affected. A DUI cannot be removed from a criminal record in Georgia, and it's the only motor vehicle offense that shows up in the National Crime Information Center, maintained by the FBI, Evans said.
Losing a license and attending probation meetings can hurt the ability to get to work. Doctors, nurses and teachers are among the professionals who can be fired for an arrest involving "moral turpitude."
There are lesser-known consequences. Travel to some countries, including Canada, isn't allowed, and rental car companies might not lease to drivers with DUI convictions.
Security clearances are stricken, bartenders' alcohol license are suspended and a doctor's DEA permit to dispense anesthesia and hydrocodone can be revoked.
"Why ruin your life and your ability to support your family?" Evans said.