Recently a friend confessed she had been caught driving under the influence of alcohol for the second time. I expressed safety concerns about her driving while intoxicated. She burst into tears, letting me know that these experiences were the most embarrassing and costly ones of her life.
How Smart Are You?
A lot of us feel that we’re wise enough not to drive while intoxicated, right? But are we always this careful or conscious of the things we do? Consider the occasions you ordered a martini at a business lunch or the times you drove home after the rollicking company Christmas party. Each time, you put yourself and others at risk. If you were pulled over, you would have faced serious charges.
No matter what your position in life or intelligence level, you can get caught driving under the influence. The only way to prevent it is to be more conscious about your decisions. For instance:
- Skip a martini at lunch and order lemon water instead.
- Arrange for a limo to bring you and your co-workers home from the company party.
- Avoid taking unnecessary risks that could lead to financial ruin.
How Does a DWI or DUI Affect Your Finances?
A DUI can affect various aspects of your life and finances for years to come. The average cost of a DUI is a whopping $10,000. Bail, court costs and attorney fees, fines, towing, license reinstatement and alcohol evaluation and education costs mount quickly. Over the long haul, your auto insurance rates will go up for at least three to five years. As it is, insurance premiums double, triple or even quadruple after a DWI or DUI conviction.
Then of course, certain states impose additional fines on drivers convicted of DUI. If your behavior costs damage, injury or death, then your overall costs will mount.
The Costs of Driving Under The Influence (or While Intoxicated)
The stigma of driving while intoxicated is embarrassing. Nobody feels proud to admit that they got behind the wheel of a car under the influence of alcohol or other substances. Let’s check out the consequences for the moment (according to severity):
- Time lost. At the very least, you’ll have to take time off from work to attend court hearings; you’ll also have to perform community service that will cost you money and credibility at the workplace.
- Insurance penalties. Think about other unexpected personal costs that will likely arise from a DUI conviction: beyond auto insurance, the cost of life insurance (or other related insurance you want to buy) might increase if you have or ever had a suspended license. If you’re looking to lower your car insurance rates, this is not the way to go.
- Jail time and a criminal record. And if you hurt someone else, you may face more serious charges and jail time. The penance will never erase the memory of the damage done, and the financial and emotional costs are immeasurable.
Is going behind the wheel after a few drinks at a company party, worth putting your job on the line? Because that’s precisely the risk you could be taking when you take to the streets after a night of revelry. Once your license is suspended, you won’t be able to drive to work, and in areas where public transportation is scarce or non-existent, this can be a major crisis! The ramifications are quite obvious, but this kind of forward thinking isn’t often present when we’re out having fun.
If you are employed in certain industries, a DUI conviction could negatively affect the status of your professional license. Those working as pilots, lawyers, nurses, doctor or stockbrokers might find themselves out of a job after a DUI conviction. After working years to achieve the education and experience required for these professions, it could all be lost by making one dumb decision.
Wait, there’s more: finding alternative employment might not be easy despite your level of education. If any job requests a background check, a DUI (much like having bad credit) could harm your future job prospects.
How To Avoid a Costly DUI Conviction
Let’s close this piece with some ways to stay out of trouble. Prevention is the best way to avoid a costly DUI conviction and the related guilt, suffering and financial stress. Consider several ways to plan ahead so you don’t get a DUI:
- Have a designated driver for the night who agrees not to drink.
- Call a taxi or hire a limo for the evening.
- Ask a friend or family member to be on call in case you need a ride home.
- Stop drinking at least a couple of hours before you drive home.
- Several AAA organizations will tow you home for free if you are intoxicated, making the cost of membership even more worthwhile.
- And finally, if you don’t have a plan, don’t drink at all.
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