The Price Of Drinking And Driving

Many people who have gotten a DUI will tell you that the drink that pushed them over the legal limit will be the most expensive drink they ever buy.

While the price of a DUI differs depending on the state and the offender’s record, the average cost is typically between $11,000 and $30,000.

The Alaska Department of Motor Vehicles estimates that the total expense of an initial DUI or DWI arrest and conviction costs the equivalent of a taxi ride half-way around the world.

In addition to the monetary and legal implications of getting a DUI, there is also the immense risk you are placing on yourself and fellow drivers on the road. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 28 people die in drunk driving accidents every day. Furthermore, roughly 1 in 3 people will be involved in a drunk driving crash during their lifetime.

Ultimately, drinking and driving is a preventable event. If the proper precautions are taken to avoid getting into a car after drinking, you can continue to ensure your own financial state, legal standing, and the safety of everyone else on the road.

How Is The Cost Of A DUI Calculated?

The expense of a DUI is calculated based on an array of costs that are associated with this crime. If an individual is convicted on a second or third DUI charge, fines, jail time, and license suspension will increase exponentially.

Lawyers are very expensive…if you have some [legal] stuff to get out of, it will easily cost you $5,000 – $10,000, and that’s without any vehicle damages. Overall, my DUI ended up costing me about $8,000 and I’m still paying it off 3 years later.

- Ronald S.*

Charges used to determine the cost of a DUI include:

Expense Cost
Blood Alcohol Test $500 – $1,000
Jail Fee $10 – $50
Court Fines $150 – $1,800
Insurance Increase $4,500 – $10,000
Court Mandated Counseling Fees $1,000 – $2,500
Attorney Fees $2,500 – $5,000
Loss of Income $1,000 – $4,000
Towing and Impound $100 – $1,200
Cost of Bail $150 – $2,500
Probation Supervisor $600 – $1,200
License Reinstatement $21 – $100
Ignition Interlock Devices $500 – $1,500
Total Cost $11,031 – $30,850

There are several other factors not included in the figures above that can raise the cost of a DUI. These include whether there was an accident or any injuries as a result of one’s reckless driving, the blood alcohol content level of the driver, and the state in which the DUI takes place.

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When A DUI Charge Goes To Trial

Another aspect that can affect the price of a DUI is if an individual decides to go to trial. While the decision to go to trial will initially come with added attorney’s fees and expenses, those with a justifiable defense are typically recommended to go to court and try to fight the charges.

First-time DUI defendants that had their charges dropped or were acquitted spent an average of $3,700.

Individuals who had their charges dropped were able to be spared of costs like court-ordered DUI fines and insurance increases, but they are still required to pay attorney fees. So, even if you are able to have some costs removed, you are still subject to thousands of dollars of fees for the overall legal process.

The Social Cost Of A DUI

One of the many negative aspects of getting a DUI is the impact it can have on one’s overall opinion of themselves and their relationships. The stigma attached to getting a DUI is similar to the stigma that addiction carries – one that often involves shame, depression, or anxiety.

Although DUIs seem common, when you become the one with the big red mark on your record, you’re never going to feel like the same person again – and it’s hard to overcome that feeling.

- Ronald S.*

Additionally, getting a DUI can directly impact your relationships with friends or family members, as well as your social and professional life. 

I had to work every free second I had to be able to afford the financial burden I now had on my shoulders [from my DUI]. I had to politely decline when friends or coworkers would ask me to go out for a few drinks after work, considering I could have been randomly tested any time during the treatment and classes.”

- Andrew S.

The psychological and social cost of a DUI is comparable to any financial and legal repercussions that this crime carries. Whether it is tarnishing relationships with family and friends or having a mark on your legal record forever, getting a DUI is an incredibly costly situation that is nowhere near being worth the risk. 

It all starts when you are pulled over and doesn’t end until about a year or so later, if you’re lucky.

- Andrew S.

The Warning Sign Of Getting A DUI

When the possible result of your actions include getting arrested, facing thousands of dollars of fines, and tarnishing close relationships, you can never be too proactive in preventing a DUI.

If you are in a situation where you have either gotten a DUI before or find yourself being tempted to drink and drive, this should be seen as a warning sign that your drinking habits may have extended beyond your control, resulting in alcohol abuse or addiction.

When considering addiction treatment, the financial burden is less substantial than getting a DUI due to insurance and payment plans, and you would also be taking the initiative to instill healthy, valuable life habits.

The fines, insurance rates, and emotional stress may eventually decrease over the years, but this will not resolve a dependence on alcohol.

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