I can’t afford it, can you?

Everyone’s seen the sign “DUI: you can’t afford it.”  It’s a brilliant campaign, really.  It ties in not only the monetary issue but also draws on the moral and social “costs” we’ve all heard about time and time again in one quick sentence.

I recently did a breakdown of what my two DUI’s cost me overall, and I figured it was worth sharing.  I’m not trying to discount the social and emotional costs of drunk driving; I’m just trying to shed light on another facet.

I’d heard the tragic stories and seen the health class videos and I chose to drive anyway.  It wasn’t until I sat and added it all up that I realized just how much it really costs, even when no one gets hurt.

First, a quick disclaimer:  I am in my early 20s and a social drinker.  I’m just your average person.  I’m not an alcoholic or a trouble maker, and most people who know me will tell you I’m one of the last people they’d ever expected to be arrested.  Yet, I have been.  Twice.  In the span of a year, I was convicted for two DUIs.  I made bad choices and paid the consequences for those choices.  I’ve learned from my mistakes, and I hope other people can too.  I’m going to try not to be preachy, and I don’t need anyone to preach to me.  I just want to share some information and maybe save you some money and embarrassment—if I can do more than that, awesome.  If you take away nothing, at least I tried.

Let’s start with DUI number one.  At a BAC of .089%, I was just over the legal limit and fell into the lowest tier according to PA law.  I’d had four beers in a two hour span and thought I was just fine to drive.  In all reality, if I didn’t have a tendency to speed, I probably would have been.

Since it was my first offense, I was eligible for Pennsylvania’s Assisted Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program, which is essentially a one-time “get out of jail free” card as long as you can stay out of trouble.

I paid a lawyer $1500 to fill out some paperwork, went to court and was fined $763, ordered to complete a CRN evaluation that cost $65 and as a result of that had to enroll in Alcohol Highway Safety classes that cost $250.  When you add that to the $150 it cost to bail my car out of the impound lot, I was looking at a grand total of $2,728.  Basically, it was an expensive four beers and a slap on the wrist.

I swore I’d never make the same mistake again, but didn’t learn my lesson.  I was still making short rides home from the bar or driving because I’d had the least to drink.  To be clear, I would never drive when I considered myself “too drunk” but I obviously still wasn’t taking into account the legal limit.

Almost five months to the day after my first arrest, I decided to “move my car” which was parked in a tow-zone.  Instead of just letting a friend put my car in a different spot and take me home with her, I convinced her I’d be fine to drive it to her house.  It was a stupid decision, I knew it then, and I’ve paid for it:

After a minor fender bender at a traffic light (thankfully no one was injured and the damage was only to my own car), I was field sobriety tested, breathalyzed and arrested for DUI number two.  I was taken to a local hospital for bloodwork (that cost $800), processed at the police department and released.  It cost $250 to get my car out of jail this time and another $500 to repair the damages.  The lawyer’s fee increased too, to $3000.

Again I was required to complete a CRN evaluation for $70, and because it was a second offense I also needed a drug and alcohol evaluation for $175.  The results of the two evaluations were another round of Alcohol Highway Safety classes for $250 and a mandatory out-patient treatment program that cost $320.

If you’re keeping track, I’d paid out over $5000 for the second DUI and I hadn’t even gone to court yet.  Again, my BAC was low compared to many DUI offenders, at .14% I fell into the second tier of the Pennsylvania DUI law.  Because I had been polite to the arresting officer and completed much of the court requirements prior to sentencing, I was only charged with DUI (all other traffic violations were dropped) and was given the minimum sentence.

Even with all that it was still pretty costly, court fines and fees totaled $850.  I had to go to jail for 7 weekends at $20 a night plus a $14 urinalysis upon arrival costing $378 in all.  I was on house arrest for 16 days at $10 a day, or $160, and I had to pay probation fees, $225.

So far my second DUI has cost me $6978.  In addition to that, I had to go back to court for the first DUI because I had violated the terms of the ARD program, I plead guilty, didn’t have a lawyer present (so I saved some money there) and was fined an additional $360 plus 6 months probation.

When you add it all up the grand total for my two DUIs is roughly $10,066.00, and I was in the low range for DUI penalties.

It kills me to think of all the things I would have rather done with my ten-thousand dollars.

And that’s just the total of my receipts, I haven’t calculated the cost of my increased car insurance or loss of wages (I lost my job because I can’t drive).  Plus, I still have to pay for the ignition interlock when I do get my license back- which I’ve heard costs a pretty penny.

I agree with the sign.  DUI: I can’t afford it.  Lesson Learned.

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3 responses to “I can’t afford it, can you?

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