When I went out on July 25, I didn’t plan on getting in an accident. My husband and I were driving home, talking about our plans of going to Europe when the car next to us swerved into our lane. We t-boned them, causing their car to spin around ours, slam us in the side and then continue its circle into our rear, before coming to a stop in an electric pole that fell to the ground.
The police officer at the scene informed us that both people in the other car had been drinking. The passenger, much more intoxicated than the driver, had grabbed the steering wheel in the middle of an argument. The passenger was charged with reckless driving.
For the next two weeks we went back and forth with three insurance companies and got so frustrated we considered contacting an attorney. Finally, the passenger’s company gave in and offered us a settlement. Although we were unhappy with the amount we accepted it, figuring it was the best we were going to get. Our settlement for damages was just a little over $2,800 and included a daily inconvenience fee for each day we were without a car. The money we got was not enough to get another vehicle so we have been trying to deal with the daily struggles of only having one. The settlement didn’t reimburse us for the money we lost missing work.
The costs we incurred were minimal compared to what many people have to deal with. We are also very fortunate to have made it out without any broken bones and there were no fatalities. In 2007 nearly 13,000 people died in drunken driving accidents according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). This number accounts for 30 percent of all traffic related deaths that year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that about three in every ten Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in their lives. In 2006, more than 1.4 million drivers were arrested for DUI.
The True Cost of a DUI
If you get caught drunk driving you can expect your life to change. If you hurt or kill someone the emotional damage could be devastating and you could end up spending your life in jail. Even if you’re lucky and no one gets hurt, getting a DUI is not just about getting arrested or points on your license. It’s also very, very costly—in both time and money. Alcohol related crashes cost about $51 billion every year. In a June 2006 survey by the Texas Department of Transportation, the total cost of a DWI arrest and conviction for a first time offender (with no accident) range from $9,000 to $24,000. Some states, like Arizona, bill you for your own jail time. In Phoenix, jail time runs $165 for the first day and $60 for every day after. In many states if there is a child younger than 15 in the car you can face an additional $10,000 in fines, plus 180 days to two years in jail. Any property damage will add even more to your total cost.
Going to jail means time away from work or potentially losing your job. Some companies may fire you because their own insurance company won’t allow you to work for them. You may not be eligible for any job that requires a special license or that involves driving. Some countries, such as Canada, may deny you access.
The bottom line? Drinking and driving is never worth it. So the next time you have a drink and are about to get behind the wheel think of this price tag and think again.
Costs of a DUI*
DUI School $100 – $400
Ignition Interlock (a portable breathalyzer) around $200 to install and $80 per month
Attorney – $1500 to $15000
Civil court – if you get taken to civil court you’ll have to pay for those lawyer fees if found guilty in a civil suit it could bankrupt you
Fines & court fees – $515 to $8125
Electronic home monitoring $150 to $2,250
Time Lost from Work for Court, Programs and Community Service $ 750 to $10,000
License Reinstatement Fee $ 150
Ignition Interlock $ 730 to $ 2,800 or more/
Alcohol Treatment $ 1,500 to $ 20,000
Insurance $ 1,800 to $3,000 additional premium over three years
Towing charges $50 to $250
Total $7145 to $61,425
*This doesn’t even take into consideration the cost of bail or costs of alternate transportation.
You might not be able to rent a car
Your health insurance might go up & you might not be able to get life insurance
Some countries, such as Canada may deny you access
The DUI school can last from 12 to 30 hours. You may have to serve anywhere from 20 to 100 hours of community service.
Ashley Grant is a freelance writer, photographer, and all-around Jane of all trades.