DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) violation is a common crime, and especially dangerous for those who need to commute daily between crowded cities like New York and suburban areas. Some days of the week have become all too predictable at experiencing greater instances of DWI, and some roads have become infamous for it (to and from Long Island, among others).
No one should belittle this as a traffic violation. Being drunk at the wheel at the wrong time can lead to great loss of lives, not just for the driver but many innocent other cars, their passengers, and pedestrians. This is why New York has particularly harsh penalties for DWI, considering it a felony, and being charged in New York has massive long-lasting consequences even past your trial.
THE REAL COSTS OF DWI
A DWI charge is expensive, even if you win. Costs start at $2500 to contest a first offensecharge without a crash, and obviously more if you’re involved in an accident in which someone has been injured or killed. You have to pay more for bail, if you don’t want to be held in jail while waiting for your trial to commence. No matter what happens, expect to pay out thousands of dollars.
But we can skip the financial penalties the court may demand from you. You lose more in everything else surrounding the case.
- Economic Losses from Reduced Ability to Earn
Time is money. How much do you earn in a week? Every day you’re in jail, every day you have to face the court, traveling to and standing in line at the DMV for your license reinstatement; all of these means time taken away from the hours you could have spent earning your salary.
Worse than that however, is that a suspended or revoked license (and of course, extended jail time) may mean your employer may feel it’s worth giving you the pink slip. And then, without a job, and with a DWI criminal record – it’s going to be that much harder to find a new job.
- Lawyer and Litigation Fees
From the time you shook hand with your lawyer up to the time you can breathe a sigh of relief, you’re bound to pay all associated costs. You absolutely need an attorney who focuses in DWI/DUI work.
Worse yet are civil penalties and damages for any accidents you may have been involved in. A DUI conviction will instantly torpedo your defense, and there not only will you have to pay for personal injury/damaged property claims, but even the attorney fees of the other party.
- Increased Insurance Premiums
On the event of the DWI, insurance companies will charge higher premiums for the driver at fault. Expect to have your monthly premiums double as a ‘risky’ driver. You can’t go without automobile insurance, because not only is it illegal to drive without one, money paid for damages and court-imposed penalties typically come out of your insurance plan.
So, in the event of a DUI conviction, you have no choice but to go with a provider that demands higher premiums.
- Car ignition interlock device
If the judge sees fit, you’ll be required to have this device on your car, once you get your license to drive back. It is typically installed at your own expense. It will check if you have alcohol on your breath before starting the engine, and periodically at random while you’re driving. Tampering with it is a crime.
- Compulsory “DUI School”Drinking Driver Program
You may need to attend weekly educational classes as part of your conviction, and it has fees you have to pay again out of your own pocket. You’ll have to travel to it weekly, and you must complete it else you’re not getting your license back.
- Alternate Transportation (and Commuting)
Driving for most Americans is more than just a privilege – it is freedom and a necessity for being able to work and provide for our families. We drive to avoid having to take the bus or train to work, to school, and back home. These costs add up day after day, there’s plenty of inconvenience standing in line at the terminal and crowding inside public transport, and it may be dangerous waiting there for the next bus or train to arrive.
Paying for alternate transportation can be pricey. If you can ask your other family members to drive you to work before heading of to where they need to go, figure in increased costs for gas and their own wasted time. Hiring a driver may seem an obvious work-around for losing your license, but that’s pricey and a hindrance in its own way.
- Your Car in the Impound
After your accident or being stopped and brought to the station, towing companies would take charge and bring your car to the impound. If you can’t meet the fees, you can’t claim your car. According to New York’s Police Department, a regular tow costs about $185,#375 for heavy tow, and $20 for an overnight stay at the impound. That adds up for every day you’re unable to pay and release your car from the pound. An additional $185 may be charged for the immobilization device (boot) that may have been used on your car tire.
INDIRECTDAMAGES FOR A DWI CONVICTION
Otherlosses after a DWI conviction may not have immediate monetary damage, but can be much, much more expensive for you in the long run. Bad publicity and loss of reputation can cost you your job, lucrative opportunities and clients, and things you may have said while drunk can and will be used against you by the media.
Even for those who may be comfortable with paying out thousands of fees for civil penalties, these indirect penalties can lead to millions in losses. Politicians can be forced to resign, sports personalities levied extra fines by their leagues, and celebrities may be passed over for the next big gig. Distinguished personalities and managers may be blacklisted by their fellows.
Your boss is unlikely to see a DWI charge in a good light. No one in your office is going to forget this in a hurry, and you might as well kiss goodbye to that next promotion.