What A DUI actually costs

Not only does drunk driving exact a very heavy toll on traffic injury and cause a large portion of driving fatalities, it is very, very expensive. From the point of arrest, to a court hearing, a trial or a plea deal, fines, jail time, probation, mandatory counseling, and many other costs, the person convicted of driving while drunk will easily spend $5000.

According to the Colorado Department of Transportation,

Each year in Colorado, more than 26,000 people are arrested for DUI and over 150 people are killed in alcohol-related traffic crashes – representing more than one-third of Colorado’s total motor vehicle fatalities. Drug-impaired driving is also a serious problem, with 16% of fatalities (2006-2010) involving drivers who tested positive for drugs.

Here are some at a glance stats at just how deeply drunk driving affects all of us:

  • In the United States, 30 people die every day from drunk driving. That is one death every 48 minutes

  • In 2010, over 10,000 people were killed from impaired driving.

  • Drunk driving accounts for 31% of total traffic fatalities

  • 1.4 million people in the US are arrested for DUI every year.

  • In fatal crashes in 2011, the highest percentage of drunk drivers was for drivers ages 21 to 24 (32 percent), followed by ages 25 to 34 (30 percent) and 35 to 44 (24 percent)

  • Teen alcohol use kills about 4,700 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.

  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, From 2011 to 2012 drunk driving deaths increased from 9,865 to 10, 322 (4.6%)

  • Number of people killed in drunk driving crashes in New Year’s 2013: 140. Number expected to be killed this New Year’s: 156.

Most DUI offenders are required to take counseling classes. These start as low as $20 a session and go up from there. Required alcohol education and treatment for a DUI or DWAI ranges from 12 hours to 110 hours. Community-service hours will start at 24 hours, and go up to as many as 120.

Also, the offender will pay for drug and alcohol testing to insure they are in compliance with the terms of their sentencing. Probation, after jail time is served, is not uncommon for first time offenders in Colorado, and elsewhere. This too, carries fees. The offender will probably be required to purchase an ignition interlock device. They will have to install an ignition interlock device (IID) on their vehicle. Maintenance costs for the IID are paid by the offender.

If a drivers license is suspended, the offender will be out of any employment which requires one to operate a vehicle. Colorado DUI sentencing as of 2010 includes mandatory jail for most repeat offenses. Jail is mandatory for DUI in Colorado if one has prior alcohol related offenses. Jail is also mandatory above a certain BAC level.

A drivers license suspension is pretty much automatic, ranging from 3 months to 2 years. Probation usually starts at 1 year, but can go up to 3 years. If the offender violates the terms of his probation, Colorado law mandates a one year suspended jail sentence, in addition to pre-existing required jail time.The offender will carry the point penalty on his drivers license for 13 years, during that time, his car insurance premiums will remain elevated. If the drunk driving resulted in someone’s death, he could be convicted of murder. Count on prison time.

A first DUI offense requires an adult offender to be:

  • Jailed for at least 48 hours;

  • Fined substantially.

  • Restricted to driving only to and from work or an alcohol treatment program.

  • Ordered to attend a three-month or six-month alcohol treatment program.

  • Required to file proof of insurance with the Department of Motor Vehicles; and

  • Required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on one’s vehicle. The person must blow into the IID to check his or her BAC each time the car is started. Maintenance costs for the IID are paid by the offender.

This is for a first time offense. Subsequent DUI and DWUI convictions will add another $3000 dollars each time. Mandatory jail time is common.

If convicted of a drunk driving charge, the offender will carry a permanent criminal record. Colorado alcohol related driving offenses are considered misdemeanor criminal offenses, not traffic infractions. A conviction will deem the offender eligible for many jobs.

Drunk driving has spawned it’s own cottage industries, from DUI attorneys to alcohol class providers, to manufacturers of Ignition Interlock devices. It is often deadly, always expensive, and just not worth it. Consider these costs, next time you have had a few, and call a Taxi.