The Many Costs of Drunk Driving
You don’t have to feel drunk to break the law. According to federal law, it’s illegal to drive with a blood alcohol level of .08 percent or higher, and it’s possible to become impaired after one or two drinks without even knowing it.
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a serious offense punishable by law that affects more than your driving record. Of course, the biggest cost to drinking and driving could be your life or that of someone else. In 2019, more than 10,000 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents. But there are countless other consequences of driving while intoxicated that could impact more than just your auto insurance rates.
Suspended or Lost License
A DUI is usually punishable by the temporary loss of your driving privileges. Most first-time offenders will lose their driver’s license for six months to a year. But the length of time can depend on where you were stopped and other factors. If you’ve had multiple DUI convictions, your license can be taken away for good.
Drinking raises the chance you’ll be in an accident, which can eat into your insurance deductible and lead to costly repairs. But even without an accident, the smaller fees can add up. In some states your car will be impounded for a month after the first offense. If this happens you’ll likely have to pay towing charges, a fee for the release of your car, and possible storage charges. Not to mention the hassle of not having a way to get to work or pick up your kids from school.
Once you get a DUI, you might immediately have a criminal record, depending on where you live and whether you’re convicted. A DUI offense for the third time is usually considered a felony. But first or second offenses could be felonies if:
- Someone is injured in an accident;
- There are minors as passengers; or
- Other circumstances, depending on state laws.
Felonies are considered the most serious crimes and can result in prison sentences and fines. Since it will remain on your criminal record, a felony can come up during a background check and impact your ability to get a job in the future.
Some states require mandatory jail time — even for a first offense. If you receive a DUI in Arizona you’ll face at least 10 days in jail. That number goes up to 90 for the second offense, and that can lead to other unexpected costs. If you have to go to court you might have to hire legal representation, as well.
A DUI will generally stay on a person’s driving record for three to five years, or even longer in states like California. While not as serious as having a criminal record, the consequences of having it on your driving record can still lead to higher insurance premiums or limiting your job options.
Higher Insurance Rates
A DUI makes you riskier to insure. After even one DUI offense, people’s insurance rates tend to go up significantly, affecting their premiums for years. You may be required to carry high-risk auto insurance for several years or more. Worse, your application could be denied. Without insurance, you’re not legally allowed to drive at all.
Once the DUI is on your driving record, most states will require an SR-22 document, which verifies you have purchased auto liability insurance. How much you pay depends on where your live and what your plan covers, but an SR-22 can cost several hundred dollars a month.
There are many serious and widely-known consequences for drunk driving. But the smaller possible penalties and inconveniences of having one also come with a price tag:
- Loss of work time
- Requirement to complete an alcohol/drug evaluation
- Mandated alcohol/drug education course
- Mandated substance abuse treatment program
- Having to attend hearings in order to obtain a restricted driving permit
- Having to install an ignition interlock device in your car that tests your breath for alcohol as a condition of driving
Any of these potential costs should deter you from having a drink before getting behind the wheel of a car. It’s just not worth it.
If you have questions about getting a quote on SR-22 coverage or are simply looking for the best and most affordable plan for your auto insurance, ask us at Amigo Insurance. Get a free quote here or contact us at 773-847-9000, where our agents are ready to help.