Costly consequences: The financial toll of driving drunk

With graduation and wedding seasons already upon us, lots of people will be celebrating — and many will be consuming alcohol.

You already know not to drink and drive, but do you know the real cost of a DUI?

It starts with posting bail after your arrest: $500 for the first offense, $1,000 if you’re a repeat offender, no matter how long ago it happened.

Chances are, your car was towed. That’s another $250.

Then come the attorney fees. Pat McPherson handles hundreds of DUI cases each year.

“Generally the attorneys fees are going to run you about $2,000 for an attorney to do both administrative revocation and the criminal side,” McPherson said.

Next come the court fees and fines.

“If you don’t win, there’s going to be $250 to $1,000 in fines. There’s going to be assessments and costs that total another $250 to $500,” McPherson said.

Next comes the ignition interlock system that requires you to blow before you can start up your car.

“This is the thing that will be on your windshield. It’s a camera that takes a picture of you to make sure you’re the one that actually blows into the device so your kid can’t blow or your friend,” McPherson said.

The ignition interlock system cost about $90 to install and about $85 a month for a year to keep installed in your car, so about a thousand dollars.

Next is your car insurance. If the company finds out about your DUI, expect your rate to go up “especially if you have an accident. If you have an accident, it can go up anywhere from $1,000-= to $3,000 a year (for) three to five years,” McPherson said.

Just the insurance alone could end up costing you over $10,000.

Add it all up, and you’re talking expenses that could easily come close to or top $15,000 — much more if there’s an accident involved and you have to repair your vehicle and/or someone else’s.

Then there’s the social cost, something McPherson says hits some people even harder.

Say you share a car with a family member. “In a single-car family, everybody must blow into the device in order for the car to work. The biggest one though, the one I get the most is the person that’s in the carpool for school,” McPherson said. “Can you imagine having to blow into that with three kids in the back, especially teenagers who know what’s going on?”

Although he makes a living off of people who drink and drive, McPherson says be smart and leave the driving to someone else.

“It’s easier to call Uber, Lyft, a taxi, a friend, or stay the night. If you’re calling me or any other attorney, it’s going to cost you a lot of money,” McPherson said.

McPherson says depending on your profession, you may also face additional fines. Realtors, for example, are fined $500 by the National Association of Realtors. If you’re a doctor or a pilot or anybody else who needs to apply for an annual license, you need to put the DUI down, which may require you to take additional courses to get your license. That’s another expense.

Of course, there’s always the chance you’ll pay the ultimate cost: a person’s life, whether it’s yours or someone else’s.

Every year, police arrest thousands of people statewide for DUI, and about 5,000 of those are on Oahu.

The holiday that sees the highest amount of DUI arrests is Halloween.

Other holidays with high DUI arrests are New Year’s Eve, Labor Day, Memorial Day, and the Fourth of July.

DUIs are also high during the Final Four of the NCAA Men’s Division I basketball tournament, and University of Hawaii football games.

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