Financial Cost of Drinking and Driving

In the United States, the public cost of alcohol-induced traffic incidents is estimated to be around $114.3 billion. This includes $51.1 billion in monetary costs and roughly $62.3 billion in life losses. The driver is not the only one financially affected in these situations; people other than the drunk driver pay around $71.6 billion for alcohol-related crashes.

There are many factors related to drunk driving that people do not realize at the time of conviction. Some drunk driving-related fees include court costs, attorney fees, bail fees, driving under the influence education programs, and car towing or impounding. The aforementioned mandatory drunk driving education program can cost between $1,500 and $2,500.

In all 50 states, a driver temporarily loses his or her driver’s license after violating drunk driving laws. This means the offender has to rely on other methods of transportation, which can take a toll financially. There is also a $250 reinstatement fee that must be paid before a driver can return to full driving privileges.

Many states order offenders to have a car ignition interlock device installed inside their cars. An ignition lock is a machine that is connected to a car’s ignition and checks the driver’s blood alcohol content level. The driver has to blow into the machine to start the car and do so from time to time while the engine is running. If alcohol is detected, the car does not start. If a driver fails the test while the car is in motion, the vehicle’s horn will honk, or the lights will flash to get the attention of nearby police on patrol. This device can cost as much as $200 to install and $80 per month to maintain, which is of course billed to the offender.

Offenders continue to pay for their actions many years after a DUI incident. It is estimated that in the five years following a drunk driving conviction, an offender’s car insurance bill can increase by $5,000 to $10,000. Such an offense can also lead to the loss of a job, especially if an offender’s job revolves around driving a motor vehicle.

The costs associated with a DUI conviction vary from state to state, but they almost always run into the thousands of dollars. It is estimated that the minimum cost to a driver for his or her first DUI conviction in the state of New York is $9,500. A Texas Department of Transportation survey revealed that the total cost of a drunk driving arrest and conviction, even if there wasn’t an auto accident, ranges from $9,000 to $24,000.