We all know you should NEVER drink and drive, but few people realize the huge financial ramifications of getting busted for driving under the influence of alcohol.
A DUI can be enormously costly – mainly in terms of the potential physical danger you pose to pedestrians, other drivers on the road, passengers in your car, and even yourself.
So during the holiday season, and throughout the year, please think twice about consuming alcohol and then getting behind the wheel of a vehicle.
Alcohol can make you sleepy, less alert, impair your vision and slow your reaction time – all of which can lead to potentially deadly accidents.
If the thought of injuring or even killing someone isn’t enough to make you give up the keys when you’ve been drinking, then maybe the prospect of paying staggeringly high financial penalties will convince you.
According to AAA, drivers convicted of DUI pay a steep economic cost for their actions.
For example, in my state of New Jersey, AAA reports that a person found guilty of driving under the influence faces:
loss of license for three months to a year
fines ranging from $250 to $500
a $230 fee to be deposited into the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center
a $100 fee to be deposited into the drunk driving fund
a $100 fee to be deposited into the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Fund
a $75 fee to be deposited into the Neighborhood Services Fund
a $1,000 annual auto insurance surcharge for three years
possible imprisonment for up to 30 days
possible installation of an ignition interlock device in any vehicle operated by the offender
detainment in the Intoxicated Driver Resource Center for 12 to 48 hours
Add it all up and those fines and penalties can total more than $4,000. And that doesn’t even include any potential loss of income, since DUI problems will likely cause you to lose work in order to show up for a court hearing.
Then there’s the whole issue of possibly having to hiring a lawyer to represent you in a DUI case. Attorneys don’t come cheap. So legal expenses could run between $500 to $5,000 or more, depending on the complexity of your case and the state in which you live.
Plus, if you get 30 days in jail due to drunk driving, you can kiss your earned income good-bye for that month. What’s your salary worth to you? I’m guessing $2,000 on the low end, and more likely somewhere in the neighborhood of $4,000 to $5,000 a month or more.
Whatever your income, as you can see, drinking and driving is a recipe for personal and financial disaster.
So do yourself a favor: No matter how much fun you’re having and no matter how long the celebration goes, if you start drinking and you’re away from home, just turn the keys over to someone else or call a cab.
It could be one of the smartest personal and financial decisions you’ll ever make.