After having a few drinks with friends at a bar or a house party, shelling out money for a taxi or ride-sharing service can seem unnecessary. It’s easy to think “I’m feeling good. I’ll just drive home.” But, when you get pulled over by the police or hurt someone else in a car accident, you’ll realize just how convenient a taxi would have been.
The following drunk driving statistics prove how much driving under the influence can cost you — both financially and emotionally. It’s simply not worth it to drive after drinking.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over one million drivers are arrested each year for DUIs. The stats also reveal that about 29 people die every day in the U.S. from motor vehicle crashes involving an alcohol-impaired driver. That equates to one death every 50 minutes. Alcohol-related driving accidents account for about a third of all traffic-related deaths.
Unfortunately, those numbers keep rising. The National Highway Transportation Safety Organization estimated that 10,511 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2018, up 0.1 percent from 10,497 in 2016. Many people don’t understand the cost of drunk driving.
The Financial Costs of Drunk Driving
Drunk driving accidents can cost the U.S. billions of dollars. The Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) found that drunk driving costs the nation more than $132 billion annually. These are costs that affect not only the perpetrators, but the entire country.
The $132 billion takes into consideration higher insurance rates; higher taxes to pay for law enforcement, jails and prisons, and judicial courts; medical fees; and property costs. Of course, the offender wears the brunt of those costs, but law-abiding citizens also have to pay.
PIRE found that a first-time offender who gets a DUI can be charged up to $15,000 in costs. They could pay as much as $6,000 in increased insurance premiums, $2,000 for an interlocking ignition device, and more than $1,000 each for fines, remedial education, relicensing, and legal fees.
Here’s an itemized cost breakdown for first-time DUI offenders in Nevada:
Bail — $2,000
Lawyer — $1,750
Fine — $685
DUI school — $250
VIP — $65
Coroner’s DUI — $200
Ignition interlock — $600 (total for six months)
SR-22 — $900 (three years, at $25 per month)
(SR-22 is a vehicle liability insurance document required by most state Department of Motor Vehicles offices for “high-risk” insurance policies)
The offender’s driver’s license may also be suspended for three months, which can lead to the cost and inconvenience of paying for taxis or public transportation to get around. If the perpetrator gets a second DUI, consequences are more severe. They will have their license revoked for one year, and could spend up to six months in jail.
If there are any injuries or property damage as a result of drunk driving, the PIRE estimates that the offender could owe more than $1 million. The costs come from:
- $200,000+ for legal
- $90,000+ for medical
- $50,000+ for vehicle repairs (for the drunk driver’s car and the car(s) they hit)
If a car accident results in another person’s death, the driver could face felony charges, including years of imprisonment. They will also have to pay for legal fees and damages to the family of the deceased. That will likely include funeral costs, which cost an average of $7,500.
Insurance rates can raise the offender’s payments for a long time. In fact, higher rates can take up to 10 years to recover after a DUI conviction, according to Nerdwallet. An article in the 1998 edition of Advancement of Automotive Medicine said that the estimated cost per DWI vehicle mile was $9.79, adjusted for inflation. A sober mile costs only 18 cents.
Those who have a DUI on their record will be paying for it for years to come.
The Emotional Costs of Drunk Driving
Although financial costs can be high, the emotional consequences of a DUI can be life-shattering.
Those who have their license suspended can experience difficulty getting to work and meeting other obligations. This can negatively impact their job performance, and could potentially lead to employment termination. When looking for another job, a DUI on their record might hinder their chances of future employment.
Paying for a DUI and legal fees is nothing when compared to the cost of causing someone serious harm or taking their life. That’s a debt offenders can never pay off.
The emotional pain could have major effects on the offender’s life. Some perpetrators develop severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and experience nightmares, flashbacks of the accident, difficulty concentrating, and frightening thoughts.
If you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs, do not get behind the wheel of a car. Instead, get picked up by a friend or family member, or use a taxi or ride-sharing service. There is never an excuse to drive while intoxicated. The costs are simply too high.
“Giving up the keys when you’re drunk won’t just save you a ton of money,” said John Shook, a partner at Shook & Stone. “It can save lives.”
What to Do if You Are Involved in a Drunk Driving Accident
If you or a loved one has been the victim of a drunk driving accident, it’s best to seek legal help. A personal injury lawyer at Shook & Stone can help you receive the compensation you are entitled to. We understand the physical and emotional pain a drunk driving accident can cause. For that reason, we focus less on the legal help and more on the emotional healing.
We have decades of experience serving as drunk driving attorneys for Nevada residents, and we are ready to fight for you. Our initial consultations are always free. Call us at (888) 662-2013 or complete our online form to start the legal process and get the outcome you deserve.