Driving Under the Influence---or DUI---is a serious criminal offense. Although the degree of punishments and fines levied for a DUI conviction vary from state to state, you can be assured that you will pay dearly for being arrested for drinking and driving.
Disadvantage: License Suspension
A DUI conviction often results in your driver's license being suspended for several months or more. Without your license, you will find yourself hailing taxi cabs at your own cost or relying on your friends to tote you around. This makes it difficult to get to work, run errands and maintain your livelihood. Getting caught driving with a suspended license causes further penalties, fines and even jail time, so it is not worth even taking the remote chance to run a quick errand with a suspended license. You may also face additional administrative suspensions from your state's motor vehicles office without even being convicted of a DUI. Hardship licenses for driving to work and the grocery store are usually available, but not without first serving a hard suspension period and paying additional costs.
Disadvantage: Higher Insurance Premiums
Once convicted of a DUI, you will be labeled as a dangerous driver. Due to the high rate of accidents, injuries and deaths where drinking and driving is involved, your insurance company will assess significantly higher premiums to mitigate this risk. Expect to pay at least $2,000 per year of added insurance premiums for at least the next three to five years. The motor vehicle office may also require a form SR-22 from your insurance carrier verifying your insurance coverage to keep your license. In addition to the form, you may have to pay for your insurance premiums up front for six or 12 months rather than having the benefit of paying your premiums in monthly installments.
Disadvantage: Fines & Legal Costs
When you are convicted of a DUI, higher insurance premiums are only the start of your financial problems. The court will require you to pay fines and court costs, and will often require completion of driving school, probation or treatment sessions at your own expense. If you wish to hire an attorney, you can expect to spend even more. On average, expect to spend a total of $10,000 to $15,000 on a DUI.
Disadvantage: Loss of Time
A DUI conviction is not only expensive, it is also inconvenient. You can earn more money, but you cannot earn more time. Be prepared to make time for monthly probation meetings, weekly treatment meetings, weekend driving schools and court appearances. To complicate matters, weekly treatment sessions often require you to attend weekly Alcoholics' Anonymous meetings as part of successfully completing the treatment. Court appearances can also take you away from work; rarely does a single court appearance suffice, as cases are usually continued or delayed for various reasons. This means that whenever your name is on the docket, you need to be there. This can be decidedly inconvenient if you were arrested for a DUI in a county different from where you live.
Advantage: Learning Experience
With all of the expense, inconvenience and embarrassment your DUI arrest will cause, it's not easy to find good things about the situation. The benefits are intangible, but if you treat the process as a learning experience rather than a punishment, you may even come out feeling grateful. If you were the only one involved in the DUI and did not hurt anyone or damage any property, you can feel fortunate that you dodged a bullet. Courts almost always impose higher fines, including significant jail time, if a death resulted from your drinking and driving. Although it's not a fun lesson, a DUI gets you a glimpse into a world of alcohol addiction and the resulting emotional, professional and health problems it causes. Maybe you realize you are an addict and need help. Maybe you make a commitment to stop drinking in exchange for a healthier lifestyle. The punishment you receive for a DUI conviction will ultimately come to an end, but the things you learn can stay with you the rest of your life.
- MSN Money; DUI: The $10,000 Ride Home; Christopher Solomon
- Progressive Insurance; How Does a DUI Affect Your Insurance Rate?; Allison Ruuska; March 10, 2008
- "Times Herald Online"; Vallejo High School Teens Sit in on DUI Trial; Tony Burchyns; April 28, 2011
- LJ World; Personal Experience Gives Douglas County DUI Prosecutor Greg Benefiel Passion for New Role; George Diepenbrock; April 29, 2011
- Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images