The Hidden Costs of Driving Under the Influence (DUI)

Leap | Carpenter | Kemps Insurance Agency | Jun 23, 2020 | minute read

Maybe the “one drink” you agreed to have with friends or colleagues turned into three or four as time passed. Or, perhaps you found yourself forced to drive after a work function or social get-together because your designated driver fell victim to temptation and drank as well.

Unfortunately, the frequency of these “slip-ups” is alarming. In fact, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that “Every day, almost 30 people in the United States die in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 48 minutes in 2017” and according to some estimates, one in three people will be involved in a drunk driving accident in their lifetimes.

Believe it or not, California has more deaths related to drunk-driving per year than any state in the nation! Each year, between 160,000 - 208,000 DUI arrests are made in California every year, and you can bet that every one of those had a massive effect on the driver’s life and finances.
Thankfully, not all of these accidents result in death, injury or property damage.

How DUI Works in California

group cheers with alcohol In California, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher, you can be arrested for DUI. The limit is 0.01% for drivers under age 21. If convicted — as more than 70% of those arrested for DUI in California are — you will lose your license for between four months and three years. The length of your suspension depends on factors including any previous DUI offenses and whether or not you took a breath or blood test at the time of your arrest.

If you are convicted for DUI, your insurance agent is required to file an “SR-22” form on your behalf for at least three years. This form is also known as “Proof of Financial Responsibility.” The SR-22 tells your insurance carrier — the company that actually provides your insurance — to boost your rates to reflect the higher risk you now represent.

When your agent stops filing your SR-22, the insurance carrier may lower your premium a bit, but it is unlikely to ever drop down to your previous, pre-DUI rate. The reality is you cannot get your license reinstated unless you have filed the SR-22 forms as required. This means that your auto insurance premium will skyrocket if you incur a DUI.

Once the SR-22 is filed, your insurance carrier could drop you immediately. And, with a DUI conviction it will be extremely difficult and expensive to get auto insurance. The insurance carrier that will insure you will insure you as a high-risk driver and make you pay an extremely high rate for coverage.

The Consequences of Driving Under the Influence

paramedic The worst consequence of a drunk driving incident is, of course, any loss of life or injury. Second to this is the extreme physical, emotional and psychological damage that a drunk driving accident can have on the driver and the victims, including the passengers and their families.

Most people are aware that a conviction for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) results in an automatic suspension of your driver’s license. However, most people aren't aware of the severe financial damages they'll face from a DUI. Considering the significant impact, it could have on your life, it’s vital to know all the consequences that would result if you were to receive a DUI.

Direct Costs of a DUI

If convicted of a DUI, in addition to the increase in insurance premiums, there are a number of costly fees and fines you’ll face include:

Expense Estimated Amount Notes
Bail $150- $1,500 Nolo cites $150 on average based on a national study; other sites report bail amounts up to $1,500 in CA.
Fines $390 to $1,000 for first-time offenders, plus “penalty assessments” that can be thousands more Amounts are higher for repeat offenders.
Legal Fees Up to $4,000 Includes attorney fees and court fees
DUI Education Class At least $650 Based on length of class, which varies from 12 hours to 30 months. Offered by the CA Dept. of Health Care Services.
Cost of Alternative Varies Bus, subway or train as needed
Los of Work Income Varies Your work hours may be reduced due to your DUI and your inability to get to and from work, although CA now allows you to apply for a restricted license for your commute.
Ignition Interlock Device (IID) Several hundred dollars up to $1,500 As of 1/1/19, CA “mandates repeat offenders…and first DUI offenders whose violations resulted in injury, to install an IID for…12 to 48 months.” Cost depends on how long you are required to use it.
License Reinstatement Fee Up to $125 CA requires proof of financial responsibility and completion of a DUI course before reinstating your license.
Increase in auto insurance premiums $20,000 to $40,000 over several years CA DMV states premiums could double, triple or quadruple.

100 dollar bills

Keep in mind, your costs will be higher if this is a repeat offense, if your BAC level was very high at the time of your arrest or if you caused property damage or injuries to others. Also, it's important to note that teen offenders are hit harder than experienced drivers when they incur a DUI.

Regardless of the driver’s age, as you can see from the chart above, the cost of a DUI is a LOT of money. Most experts estimate the total cost of a DUI to be between $20,000 and $40,000.

In addition to the costs listed in the chart, you may incur additional expenses ranging from relatively inexpensive, periodic blood testing to the enormous cost of compensating a victim of your accident for his or her injuries.

Indirect Costs of a DUI

In addition to the direct costs to cover DUI-related expenses, you’ll encounter a number of other impacts that will drain your time and still have a damaging effect on your life. These include:

1. Damage to your reputation and standing in the community, which may carry over to your job.
2. Time spent in court and dealing with the legal aspects of your DUI.
3. Possible jail time depending on conviction type.
4. Possible probation, even for first-time offenders.
5. Time spent in DUI classes.
6. The frustration of dealing with the ramifications of a DUI.

What to Do If You're In a DUI Situation

Hopefully, the chance of you drinking and driving is nonexistent, because, as you can see, one slip-up can be catastrophic to you, your family and any others affected by your impaired driving.

While we genuinely hope you are never involved in a DUI, the agents at Leap | Carpenter | Kemps Insurance Agency stand ready to assist our customers should you find yourself in this precarious situation. If you are arrested for DUI, please contact us immediately so we can guide you through the necessary insurance aspects of your situation.

Our independent insurance agents do not work for a particular insurer — we work for you, our customer. We will do everything we can to minimize the increase in your auto insurance premium due to a DUI conviction.

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About The Author

LCK Insurance Agency is one of California's most prominent independent insurance agencies. They offer commercial business insurance, employee benefits, life & health insurance, and personal insurance.

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