The high cost of alcohol-impaired driving


What happens to your wallet if you are convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol? Financial penalties ae swift, severe, and can linger for a number of years. There are 42 states with an automatic license suspension on first offense, and the suspension can extend from 30 days to as much as a year, depending on the state.

You can look up your state’s impaired driving laws and penalties in this chart.

Here are some of the negative consequences of having a DUI conviction:

  • Your license could be suspended. 42 states have administrative license suspension on the first offense.
  • Your vehicle may be confiscated or impounded.
  • You may be required to participate in an ignition interlock program and pay for all associated costs. MADD estimates the cost of ignition interlock device installations at $70 to $150, plus a monthly fee of between $60 to $80.
  • You are flagged as a high risk driver and may require an SR-22 filing by your insurer. In violations that result in license suspension, SR-22 forms must be obtained from your insurer before a license can be reinstated. Essentially, it’s a red flag signifying that you are a high risk driver. State laws vary, but the average SR-22 spans three years.
  • You could be dropped by your insurer. At the very least, your auto insurance options are more limited.
  • You will pay higher insurance rates over a number of years.
  • You might be subject to alcohol exclusion laws. Currently, 37 states have laws that allow insurers to refuse payment of costs for treating drunk drivers’ injuries.

So far, we’ve only talked about the financial costs of a DUI violation. Impaired driving also puts you and others at a much greater risk of being injured or killed. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 9,967 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2014, accounting for nearly one-third of the nation’s traffic-related deaths. That’s about 28 people every day, or one death every 53 minutes.

It’s vitally important to understand the effects of alcohol on driving. See the 6 stages of getting drunk. Your BAC (Blood Alcohol Count) is a measure of the amount of alcohol in your bloodstream. Check out the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Calculator to understand the impairment effects of drinking. There are also a variety of BAC gauging apps that you can get for your phone.

Our best advice? Line up a designated driver in advance or call a cab, an Uber or a Lyft. Impaired driving is not worth it, whatever measure you use!

New DUI law in Connecticut mandates an ignition interlock device


ignition-interlockSince July 1, if you are found to be driving under the influence (DUI) in Connecticut, you will be required to install an ignition interlock device (IID), An IID is a type of breathalyzer that requires a breath sample before the car will start. (See the short video from LifeSafer in this post to learn how and IID works.) The car will be immobilized if the sample is over .025. Previously, installation of these devices was only required of repeat offenders, but now the law extends to first time offenders too. According to MADD CT, states with IID laws have seen a 40% decrease in alcohol related fatalities.

“The duration of time in which the IID must be installed is dependent on whether the offender is 21 at the time of the incident, whether they are a repeat offender, and the result or refusal of the blood alcohol test taken.

This law will affect up to 6,500 first-time offenders charged with operating under the influence. The previous law did not require those who entered a diversion program to use the IID, but the new law now requires all offenders to.”

This is in addition to any fines and suspensions that may be imposed. It’s up to the offender to pay for the device and its installation.” A device costs about $75 to install and $75 per month to maintain. They also require about $275 in DMV fees.”

All states have some form of ignition interlock device laws – and almost half of all states have mandatory provisions for all offenses. See the Insurance Information Institute for more on state drunk driving laws. MADD also has an update on state laws related to ignition interlock devices.

DUI conviction also have a severe impact on insurance rates
In addition to any state fines and penalties associated with a DUI offense, remember that a DUI conviction will be very costly to your insurance rates, too. Just how costly will vary, depending on the circumstances of the offense, your age, your driving history, your state law and your insurer. You may be designated as a high-risk driver, limiting your insurance options – some insurers may refuse to insure you at all. The amount of a surcharge can vary by insurer and the duration of such a surcharge will vary by state law. Usually, it will negatively affect your rates for at least three years and as many as 10 years, in some states.

Note: DUI is also sometimes referred to as OUI (operating under the influence) and DWI (driving while intoxicated).

Image source: Video screen grab from LifeSafer