Drinking and driving costs bigger bucks / by Cassandra Hearn


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that drinking and driving costs our nation more than $45 billion each year.  But what does that mean for an average San Diegan who is convicted of DUI? 

In a recent article published by the Auto Club in Westways, December, 2011, estimated costs for first-time DUI offenders now exceed $12,000.00. These costs include: fines, impound or tow, alcohol-education classes, victim restitution fees, DMV fees, attorney fees, and insurance costs.  This approximation does not include estimates for intangibles, such as: jail time, lost wages or lost job, time and cost of attending driver safety classes, time and cost of performing public work service, property damage, personal injury, or other imposed restrictions and requirements. 

Over 60% of the estimated cost, or $7,424.00, is attributed to increases in insurance premiums over a period of ten years from the date of conviction. The cost is even higher (averaging at $17,000.00 due to steeper insurance premiums) if the driver is under 21 at the time of the DUI incident.  Neither of these insurance premiums account for DUI with collision or injury.

It is not illegal to drink and drive in San Diego.  It is illegal to drink and drive over the limit, or to drive without the caution that would be characteristic of a sober person.  Most San Diegans would agree that driving over a .08% or driving while impaired is not worth a $12,000.00 risk; but for many people who have been charged with DUI, taking that $12,000.00 gamble was not an intentional decision.  If you have been charged with DUI, you need to speak with a qualified attorney who understands you and can assess your case. 

Call the Law Offices of Cassandra Hearn today at (619) 800 - 0384.