Aside from the potential of hurting or killing people while driving drunk, you also face severe financial consequences if you are arrested and/or convicted of DUI (driving under the influence). If you are arrested for a DUI, which means being pulled over by a police officer and a breathalyzer test shows that your blood alcohol is over .08 percent or greater, the State of California only allows 10 days for you to request a hearing or your driver’s license is revoked. If you do not request a hearing and your driver’s license is revoked, you will not only have to pay for all the fines involved with the DUI itself, but you will have to go through the process and pay the fees and fines to have your driver’s license reinstated as well. This is just the initial costs involved with a DUI; there are financial consequences that can follow you up to 10 years.
If it is the driver’s first DUI and they agree to have blood drawn to determine their BAC (blood alcohol count) upon arrest, they will receive a four-month license suspension and will be required to file an SR-22 (formal proof of insurance) with the DMV for three years. They are also required to take alcohol education classes. The driver may or may not be granted a restricted license to allow them to driver to work and alcohol education classes only. You will also receive two “violation points” on your DMV driving record for 10 years. For first-time DUI drivers who refuse to allow blood to be drawn for a BAC test, a license suspension of one year is mandatory and you will not even be considered for a restricted license to drive to work. They also need to file and SR-22 in order to have their license reinstated after the suspension is over.
No matter if you agree to the blood BAC test or not, your insurance company will likely raise your premium of minimum of 20 to 30 percent. Even if you do not have any previous violations, a DUI may cause the insurance company to consider your policy not renewable when the current policy period ends. Although you do not have to inform you insurance company that you have been arrested or convicted of a DUI, insurance companies run a DMV record check before they offer you a renewal. At that point, it is up to the insurance company whether they choose to renew your policy or not. You still have to have the SR-22 in force in addition to your current insurance.
Summary of costs associated with DUI in the state of California
- Paying fines, fees or any other costs associated with your initial arrest, which may include impound and towing fees and bail.
- Retaining an attorney to assist you at your hearing
- If you fail to request a hearing within 10 days, the additional costs of having your license suspended for a year
- Increased insurance premiums for at least 10 years, as well as paying to have a valid SR-22 for the three year required period
- Time lost from work or loss of your job due to your arrest or conviction
- Court costs and fines for your arrest and violations
- The costs of securing and maintaining a high risk insurance policy
One DUI arrest can affect your financial situation for up to 10 years, or longer if you lose your job or are unable to get auto insurance.
Drinking and driving is not smart to begin with, but the potential consequences you face in regards to your financial and personal freedom should be reason enough to not do it. Most people cannot afford to spend the next 10 years of their lives paying twice the amount of insurance they need to, and for the first three years of that paying for two insurance policies. Before you drink and drive, consider the immediate consequences first, but then think about the long-term financial hardship you will face. The punishment for DUI is in the event that you are merely pulled over and arrested, if you are involved in an accident and injure or kill another person the consequences can last a lifetime.