Attorney Oberman says legal representation to contest the criminal charge can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $25,000, depending on the rigor and complexity of the defense. But that's not the only expense. Oberman says a vigorous defense sometimes requires hiring an investigator ($1,000 to $3,000) to interview witnesses, transcribe the police video and try to uncover evidence to discredit the arresting officer's testimony. There may be a need for expert witnesses who can testify about the accuracy, or lack thereof, of field sobriety tests ($3,000 and up). Usually, attorney Wallin says, fees are $2,000 to $3,000 for a trial on a first-offense case, although they can climb to $7,500 or more with some lawyers. Oberman says trial costs can be closer to $20,000. Cost: $2,000-$25,000.

Fines. Fines and court fees for breaking the law vary by state, from a minimum of $600 in Colorado and $685 in Washington to as much as $1,200 in Illinois. "The fines have gone up dramatically over the last few years in Illinois," says Wallin. "A few years ago in Chicago, the typical DUI fine was about $300 on the first offense. And now it's $900 to $1,200." Cost: $300-$1,200.

Alcohol evaluation. An evaluation is usually required of anyone who is sentenced for drunken driving. Cost: $250 in Illinois, for example.

Alcohol education and treatment. If you're convicted, you usually have to undergo an education or treatment program, especially if you want to get your license again. Treatment can vary hugely in scope and extent. Cost: $150-$2,000 for basic treatment.

Alcohol-monitoring leg bracelet. Scram devices, like that worn by actress Lindsay Lohan, which measure the alcohol content in your perspiration, are becoming more commonplace, Oberman says. Cost: about $100 to install and about $10 per day, or $300 per month.

License reinstatement fees. Once a driver has shown, by completing courses and treatment, that he deserves his license back, the state charges him for the reissue. Cost: $95-$250.

Additional fees. Colorado, for example, will slap you with myriad other fees:

  • $10-$50 jail filing fee.
  • $78 Victim Assistance Fund payment.
  • $33 Victim Compensation Fund payment.
  • $90 for the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund.
  • $15 Brain Injury surcharge.
  • $25 Victim Impact Panel assessment.

If you had been particularly drunk, a judge might order that an ignition lock be placed on your car to test your breath and prevent the vehicle from starting if you're intoxicated. In Tennessee, for example, this costs $75 a month, plus an installation fee. In Illinois, it's closer to $1,290, says attorney Wallin. Cost: $325 and up.

Finally, there are several other costs that you need to remember:

  • Life insurance premiums can rise. With a DUI arrest or conviction, you could see an increase in your life insurance bills, because insurers may ask if your license has ever been suspended.
  • Lost time means lost pay. People who get DUIs report missing a lot of work (and therefore losing a lot of income) dealing with their mistake, as a result of court dates, community service and sometimes a jail sentence. That doesn't even count the lost free time.
  • Lose the license, maybe lose the job. For many people who drive to and from work -- not to mention those who drive as part of their work -- losing a license can be devastating. And here's a shocker: In several states, including Washington, your license may be suspended for 90 days simply upon your arrest for DUI, regardless of whether you end up being convicted. If you're convicted, your license can be revoked for a year, or even longer in some states, until you complete all the court's requirements and pay all fines.
  • No drunks wanted in the cockpit or the ER. If you're a doctor, stockbroker, airline pilot, lawyer or nurse, a DUI conviction could affect the status of your professional license, Oberman said.
  • It's not good for the résumé. A DUI lingers on your criminal record for employers to see if they do a background check, harming your future job prospects. In Washington state, a DUI conviction stays on your driving record for 15 years, and an employer can ask for and receive that information. And a deferred prosecution, in which you're not convicted, stays on your record forever.

Adding it up

So in the end, how much does a DUI cost?

Click here to become a fan of MSN Money on Facebook

The Stop-DWI Office in Erie County, N.Y., estimates that a drunken-driving conviction there costs $9,500 -- if the DUI did not result in any accident or injuries. Colorado estimates $10,270.

Illinois' secretary of state pegs the amount closer to $12,100, but says the figure would be more than $16,000, on average, if people counted the lost income from all the hassles.

Any way you slice it, it's a pricey mistake.

But the biggest thing that you lose isn't money, Oberman says. "The biggest thing here is the stigma that you get. Everybody looks at you and says, 'Yeah, he's the drunk driver.' And the stigma doesn't have a financial cost. But the stigma does have both a social cost and an employment cost."