We know that drinking and driving while under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol occurs year round. However, the holidays intensify temptation. Some people drink to celebrate the holiday season while others drink to get through a tough time of year that can be painful and stressful. Whatever the reason, it is never okay to drive under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

People often talk about the tremendous cost of drinking and driving to society. Alcohol-related crashes cost society $45 billion, yet this conservative estimate does not include pain, suffering and lost quality of life. These indirect expenses raise the alcohol-related crash figure to a staggering $116 billion.

But, let’s make this discussion more personal. What is the cost to the individual DUI offender? According to people who know – lawyers, police and The Auto Club – the average costs for a first offense drunken-driving charge are:

  • Minimum fine: $ 390
  • Penalty Assessment: $ 666
  • State Restitution Fund: $ 100
  • Alcohol-Abuse Education Fund: $ 50
  • Blood or Breath-Testing Fee: $ 37
  • Jail Cite-and-Release Fee: $ 10
  • Driving/Alcohol-Awareness School: $ 375 (16 weeks minimum)
  • License Reissue Fee: $ 100
  • Attorney Fees (average): $ 2,500
  • Auto Insurance Increase: $ 3,600 — $6,600 (The Auto Club estimates $2,200 a year for 3 years)
  • Total $ 7,828 — $ 10,828

Notice that this does not include any costs related to lost pay, personal injuries, medical treatment, vehicle damage or additional penalties for causing a crash while drinking.

If you think you can’t afford a cab, think again!

A Chilling Fact

The loss of lives due to impaired driving is completely preventable. The alternatives to impaired driving are:

  • Appoint a designated driver who will remain sober at all times.
  • Take a taxi or call a safe ride program.
  • Call a family member or friend for a ride home.
  • Make arrangements to spend the night where you are.

Resources for additional information:

Alcohol-related fatality information for 2004 (NHTSA)

Alcoholics Anonymous

Talking a Stand on Drunk Driving (National Commission Against Drunk Driving)

[Steve Clark]