If you go to your favorite sports bar to watch the Steelers play, you may budget the amount of money you will spend. First, there will be appetizers, snacks and a round of drinks. As the game continues, you may celebrate touchdowns by buying another round, or drown your disappointments with a beer or a shot. A friendly wager may take a few more dollars from your pocket.
When the game is over and you drive yourself home, you may be shocked at the grand total: $7,500. In fact, your bill may reach as high as $10,000 because you may have to include the fines, fees and other expenses associated with a DUI.
The high cost of conviction
As drunk driving accidents, injuries and fatalities continue to rise across the country, many states, including Pennsylvania, are working to tighten laws and sentences for alcohol-related driving offenses. In many jurisdictions, you may face mandatory penalties, including jail time, for a conviction, even if it's a first offense. In addition, police are on the lookout for signs of intoxication, and they are eager to help the state improve its reputation for being tough on drunk drivers.
Even if a judge doesn't sentence you to jail, the consequences for a conviction can have a crushing effect on your wallet. The expenses associated with a DUI conviction go beyond the court-ordered fine. Some additional expenses that come out of your pocket may include:
- Fees to get your car from impoundment
- Mandatory alcohol treatment or educational programs
- Driver remediation classes
- Installation and monthly maintenance fees for ignition interlock device on your vehicle
- Blood and breath test fees
- Jail fees
- The cost of getting a reissued license
- Increases in auto insurance premiums
- Public transportation costs while your license is under suspension
There is the stark possibility that a DUI conviction will cost you your job. If your employer's policies or insurance carrier does not stipulate termination of employees with drunk driving convictions, you may place your job at risk for the following reasons:
- Being unable to drive if your work depends on it
- Missing work for court dates, jail time or community service
- Arriving late because of transportation issues
- Having to adjust your schedule to accommodate court-ordered classes or counseling
While the best advice is always to avoid getting behind the wheel if you have had too much to drink, some have found themselves facing charges when they were not impaired. Under these circumstances, it helps to have a legal professional defending your rights and protecting your future.