Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Hidden (and not so Hidden) Costs of a DUI

In a recent article on I was quoted on the many costs of a DUI arrest. A lot of people think of a DUI in terms of a big fine and a license suspension. This, my friends, is only the tip of the iceberg. As I have emphasized in previous posts, driving under the influence is a bad idea for non-financial reasons. It can end lives, and otherwise destroy them. Fatal traffic accidents, severe injuries (brain damage, paralysis, dismemberment, etc.) are, what should seem, the obvious effects of a person with limited coordination and judgment hurling a one to two ton metal object through a human-populated area. And don't forget about prison. But what about the financial costs, for those of you who are naive enough to believe that a horrific accident couldn't possibly happen to you, and are yet rational enough to respond to financial risks? Well, they stack up quickly. You should think about the fine ($1,500-$2,500), the school ($600-$1,000), the impound and storage fee ($300-$500), the booking fee ($115), any cost recovery due to an emergency response ($600-$2,000), any restitution owing to a victim ($1,000 - ?????), any probation fee (est. $1,116), dmv fees for license re-issuance ($250), insurance hikes($5,000 - ?????), fees for jail alternatives ($70 - $2,500), damage to your reputation (affecting your present and future employment and academic pursuits; costs: thousands), and lawyers' fees ($1,000 to $20,000). The MINIMUM cost of a dui, according to this analysis, is about $10,000. Of course it can, and often does, cost much much more depending on whether there was an accident, how much harm a dui conviction does to your particular academic and/or career standing and goals (which translates to lost income) and how much you end up paying for legal services. DUI is undoubtedly a bad, and expensive, idea. Don't do it.

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