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Driving under the influence of alcohol, or DUI, is a huge problem in this country. Thousands are killed or injured as a result of a behavior that is completely avoidable. If you are convicted of a DUI, expect to pay very high costs for car insurance in addition to a slew of other fees, requirements, and possible jail time.
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There are many additional costs and obligations associated with a DUI conviction beyond the high cost of car insurance. State governments have been forced to resort to increasing monetary penalties as a deterrent in addition to jail time.
Blood Alcohol Content is a measurement of the percentage of alcohol in the blood.
Driving under the influence of alcohol has been standardized in all states to be defined as driving with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) over 0.08.
Law enforcement officials can determine a driver’s BAC by breath-analyzer tests, urine samples, or blood samples.
A rule of thumb concerning how many alcoholic beverages it takes to reach the 0.08 limit uses standard drinks. Generally, standard drinks are labeled as one 12-ounce regular beer, one shot of 80-proof liquor or one 5-ounce glass of table wine. The Impairment Tables provided by Virginia Tech show that a 140-lb woman will be near the 0.08 BAC limit after two standard drinks and a 180-lb man nears it with three standard drinks.
However, there are many factors that affect a driver’s BAC, including:
- Food that has been consumed
- Interactions with certain medications
- Amount of time that has passed since drinking
Experts urge that the only safe BAC is 0.0. Consuming alcohol affects judgment, eyesight, reasoning, reflexes, concentration, and memory with impairment increasing as more alcohol is consumed. Driving under the influence means that a driver is not in full control, and severe consequences are proven a direct result.
All states have laws against DUI because the practice of mixing driving and alcohol has such dire consequences.
According to statistics found from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) 10,228 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2010.
That statistic can be calculated as a rate of one death every 52 minutes. Additionally, 345,000 people were injured in drinking-related accidents in the same year.
Drunk drivers don’t just cause injury and death to themselves; innocent people are killed and injured every day by the actions of drunk drivers. MADD also cites data that charges that drunk driving costs the United States $132 billion a year.
Most states require that drivers who are convicted of a DUI get SR-22 insurance in order to have their driving privileges reinstated. Basically, SR-22 documentation ensures that DUI drivers maintain insurance coverage, according to the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles. This is to deter drivers convicted of a DUI from forgoing insurance coverage because it is so costly.
A DUI-convicted driver must tell their insurance company that they require SR-22 insurance. The auto insurance provider then sends the SR-22 paperwork to the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. After the DMV receives the SR-22 paperwork, then the convicted driver’s license can be reinstated.
If the DUI driver drops the coverage, through either nonpayment or nonrenewal, then the insurance provider is required to notify the state’s DMV. The DMV will then revoke the DUI driver’s license. Such consequences might also include a violation of a DUI driver’s probation.
The length of time that a DUI-convicted driver is required to carry SR-22 insurance varies from state to state. Usually, the timeframe is around three to five years for first-time convictions or for those drivers who refused to take a breathalyzer test when pulled over by police. Further convictions for DUI will result in longer time requirements for SR-22, including lifetime requirements!
SR-22 insurance requirements are focused on protecting all of the other drivers who must share the road with someone who has been convicted of driving with alcohol in their system. If that driver causes an accident while under the influence and without insurance, other drivers, passengers or pedestrians who were injured or killed would face unfair consequences. No victim should have to suffer a lesser quality of life or unpaid medical bills because of a drunk driver’s avoidable actions.
DUI Insurance Costs
Auto insurance costs are based on a driver’s risk; or, how likely they are to file a claim in the future. One of the biggest factors insurers use to assess risk is the driver’s past driving history. DUI drivers have the highest risk because their past driving history shows they have engaged in the most dangerous, most avoidable driving behavior there is.
DUI drivers should expect to pay insurance rates that are much higher than average. The website for the Secretary of State for Illinois in the DUI Fact Book calculated the additional insurance costs from a DUI. A conviction in that state will cost approximately $1,500 more a year for each of the three years that convicted drivers are required to carry SR-22 insurance.
If average car insurance costs before a DUI were $1,000 a year, then car insurance costs after a DUI will be at least $2,500 a year.
The total costs to each driver will vary depending upon a number of factors. Prior tickets and accidents will only increase the DUI driver’s risk and costs. Other factors such as what kind of car is insured and where the driver lives will all affect the total cost of car insurance after a DUI conviction. Needless to say, the cost will be very high regardless of other factors.Additionally, high auto insurance costs aren’t likely to stop after a state-imposed SR-22 requirement ends. Car insurance providers may only look for accidents and speeding tickets in a driver’s history for three years, but many go back seven or even 10 years looking for a DUI.
So high insurance costs for a DUI can stretch for a whole decade.
Other DUI Costs
The high cost of car insurance coverage is not the only additional expense that accompanies a DUI conviction. Lawmakers want to have monetary consequences as well as incarceration to deter the behavior of driving under the influence of alcohol.
First, there is the cost of being bailed out of jail, impoundment fees for the vehicle or the confiscation of the vehicle. These costs can vary from a few hundred dollars to thousands of dollars, and possibly the complete loss of the vehicle.
Next, there is the cost to hire a lawyer if a driver chooses to go that route; usually, lawyer’s fees will cost in the thousands of dollars range. Then, there are court costs and fines after conviction, as well as restitution to repair damages to property or to make those injured whole. Court costs and fines will generally be a few thousand dollars, and restitution costs will vary depending upon insurance coverage and the nature of the damages inflicted. There is also the possibility for loss of income if a driver is sentenced to jail time; this could also result in the driver being fired from his or her current job.
DUI-convicted drivers are also likely to lose additional work time. Many drivers will be required to meet with a probation officer for a period ranging from a few months to several years of probation. Such meetings may also include alcohol or drug testing, which is usually paid for by the convicted. Additional loss of work can also result from the hours of community services that are generally part of a DUI conviction sentence.
After conviction, most states have a whole host of requirements that must be met and paid for. First, there will likely be a requirement for an ignition interlock device to be installed in a vehicle. This device is installed to test drivers for alcohol before the vehicle will start. It generally includes an installment fee, a monthly rental fee, and a monthly monitoring fee. Costs generally will average around $1,000 a year.
Additionally, there may also be requirements for attending victim awareness panels, substance abuse counseling classes and safe driving courses. Each requirement will have associated costs to attend. After that, there are also driver’s license reinstatement fees in addition to auto insurance costs.
Overall, most DUI convictions will cost well over $10,000.
Avoiding a DUI Charge
The safest thing to do to avoid a DUI charge is to not drink and drive. It’s that simple. As alcohol affects everyone at different rates, the only sure way for a driver to know that he or she has not consumed too much alcohol is to not drink before planning to drive.
Many organizations offer free rides during times of the year when alcohol consumption rates are high, such as New Year’s Eve. If you know that you are going to be drinking alcohol at a function or event, make sure to line up a ride or plan to spend the night.
When all else fails, calling a taxi is always an option. The cost of a cab ride anywhere will be significantly cheaper than the fines, fees, insurance, inconvenience, and true tragedy that can be the result of driving while under the influence of alcohol.
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