Christmas is almost upon us, and New Year’s Eve is around the corner. For many people, this means a chance to enjoy some drinks with friends and family at Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. Unfortunately, this means more people driving under the influence of alcohol. DUI-related arrests are at an all-time high between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, as are DUI-related fatalities. According to the US Department of Transportation, an average of 300 people lose their lives in drunk-driving related fatalities in the week between Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
Most people know that drinking and driving is dangerous, but not everyone is aware of the true cost of a DUI conviction. It is important to be aware of this, especially at a time of year like this, where DUI arrests and fatalities are at an all-time high.
A DUI is More Expensive Than You Think
Even a first-time DUI conviction comes with a sizable price tag. Fines for a first DUI range from $300 to $1,000, and it is typical for states to charge the maximum possible penalty. This does not count court costs, which can make the price even steeper. You will be required to attend a 20-hour Risk Reduction Program, which costs over $350 and participate in an Alcohol and Drug Evaluation, which costs an average of $250, if you want your license reinstated. And getting your license back won’t be free either – you will have to pay up to $210 to reinstate your driver’s license.
These aren’t the only financial penalties you might face. If you damaged property or injured someone while you will driving under the influence, you will likely have to pay restitution. If your arrest was out of state, you will have to pay the associated travel costs to attend court. You may also have to spend money on public transportation and rideshare services like Lyft or Uber in order to get to and from your required 40 hours of community service.
That isn’t all – a DUI conviction will cause your insurance premium to go up, as your car insurance company will consider you a less safe driver. You can expect to see your insurance premiums quadruple overnight after you are charged with driving under the influence. Worse, your insurance company might refuse to cover you outright after your DUI charge. You may also be required to file an SR-22 form, which will cause your insurance premiums to rise and limit your choice of insurers.
You may also find your job and future employment at risk. Fines, jail time, court costs, and required community service can wreak havoc on your work schedule and put your current job in jeopardy. You may even be fired outright, depending on the nature of your job. Your DUI conviction will remain on your record, which can affect any future employment prospects. Many employers are uncomfortable hiring people with past DUI convictions, especially if the job involves driving a company vehicle.
Don’t Pay the Ultimate Price This Holiday Season
Altogether, a first-time DUI can cost you as much as $25,000 after you factor in fines, legal fees, and the cost of hiring an attorney. This is no small amount of money, and it doesn’t even cover the potential property damage or bodily injury your actions might cause. The decision to drink and drive can have a significant impact on your life, long after you are charged for driving under the influence.
The best thing you can do, especially at a time of year like this, is exercise due caution. If you drink alcohol, do not drive for any reason. Instead, call a sober friend, a taxi, or a ride-sharing service to take you home. If you don’t have a ride-sharing service on your phone, take the time to download Lyft or Uber so you can take advantage of their services.
Even if you don’t think you’re too impaired to operate a motor vehicle, you could find yourself paying dearly if you are stopped by law enforcement while driving under the influence. You don’t want to take that risk.
Remember to be safe and mindful this holiday season! And Happy Holidays from the Don Turner Legal Team!