The True Cost of a DUI

February 17, 2012

The cost of a DUI is undoubtedly higher than all other moving violations. Learn more about DUI costs and overall DUI consequences.

DUI Consequences

Weighing the true cost of DUI can be difficult. After all, around one in three traffic deaths in the United States are alcohol-related. However, that figure alone isn't really enough to illustrate the risks and consequences of drunk driving. Here are some facts and information about some of the biggest impacts that drunk driving has on communities, individuals, and society at large.

Impacts on the Community
Drunk drivers pose a significant threat to the safety of our communities. Because of this, community governments are forced to make the decision to allocate extra funds in order to finance DUI emphasis patrols. These extra patrols cost cities thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars each year. In addition, response to DUI related traffic accidents frequently requires the dispatch of not only police personnel, but fire department and paramedic units as well. This puts a further strain on community funds that could be used elsewhere.

Impacts on the Individual
Of course among the worst possible impacts of DUI on an individual is if they were to be injured or killed in a collision. However it's not as simple as that. Although around two thirds of DUI accidents are single vehicle crashes, in instances where other vehicles or pedestrians are involved, a drunk driver risks injuring or killing another innocent person. Not only does the guilty party in this case have to live with the fact that their careless actions potentially resulted in the death of someone else, in most states they will also likely face vehicular assault or vehicular manslaughter charges as well. These are felony crimes that normally result in prison time.

Even if an individual who is driving while intoxicated isn't involved in a collision, they also risk being stopped by police and cited for drunk driving. According to MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) the financial cost of a DUI ticket is between $7,500-$10,000, including costs for legal representation, punitive fines and assorted other costs. The impact of this kind of expenditure on most individuals is significant to say the least. In addition to those explicit costs, there are plenty of other incidental costs such as lost opportunities for employment, long-term increases in insurance costs and permanent criminal records.

Impacts on Society
The impacts of DUI on society at large are even more difficult to pin down. Financially, it is estimated that the monetary costs of DUI accidents total over 125 billion dollars each year. However that figure only factors in the actual measurable monetary damages of the accidents themselves, such as the cost of police and paramedic responses. Elements like lost work hours and the emotional impacts of these accidents are impossible to measure.

The lesson should be pretty clear. Driving while intoxicated just isn't worth it. However, people continue to test fate and get behind the wheel after drinking. Next time you're faced with the choice of driving after having had a few, or finding another way to your destination, perhaps you might be able to recall one of these costs before you turn the key.

What Happens After a DUI?

Having a DUI conviction can significantly change things on your driving record. In fact, a driving under the influence conviction can prevent you from owning a vehicle altogether. If you are facing DUI charges or have already been convicted, it is important to know the next steps you may encounter. Remember that DUI laws vary from state to state, so contact a local police department or your area DMV if you have any specific questions.

After a First-Time Arrest and Conviction
If you are pulled over for driving under the influence or operating while intoxicated, your state may consider you guilty and revoke your license if you do not submit to a preliminary breathalyzer test in the field, or if you refuse a further urine or blood test at the police station. Even a first-time DUI arrest may result in some jail time. Depending on state law, you could remain in jail until your sentencing, after which you could spend additional time in a local jail. You may also find your driver's license suspended or severely restricted. Some states, like Michigan, have also instituted what effectively amounts to a tax on vehicle registrations for convicted drunk drivers. In addition to all of these restrictions, you may be fined and have your vehicle confiscated. You may also be required to attend a local DUI program or attend Alcoholics Anonymous.

Repeat Offenders
If you are pulled over and convicted of a second DUI, you will be sentenced to jail time of one or more years, and you may also be required to complete community service. Depending on state law, your vehicle could be impounded and potentially sold, and you may be responsible to pay a DUI registration tax for several years. In some states, a third drunk driving conviction is a felony offense that will result in significant fines and up to five years in jail. Your ability to own a vehicle, have a license plate and drive a motor vehicle could be revoked for years. Some states have repeat offender laws that prevent those convicted of multiple DUIs from ever registering a motor vehicle.

If you are arrested for DUI, implied consent requires you to agree to a test of your blood alcohol content. Seeing as this consent is implied by holding a drivers license, you must provide a blood, breath or urine sample if requested. Failure or refusal to provide this sample can result in your license being suspended immediately. Although the exact implied consent laws vary from state to state, it is important to provide a sample to have tested if you are arrested. Failure to provide a sample for testing can also result in complications when you get a DMV DUI hearing. If you have any specific questions regarding penalties for driving under the influence in your state, contact your local DMV. If you require additional legal advice, please contact a lawyer.