Skip to main content

The High Cost of Drinking and Driving


The High Cost of Drinking and Driving

Six Sobering Facts

Did you know that…?

  • Drunk driving is the most frequently committed crime in the United States.
  • About 30 percent of all Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related car crash during their lifetime.
  • More than 40 percent of all fatal auto accidents are alcohol-related.
  • An alcohol-related crash kills one person every 31 minutes and injures one person every two minutes.
  • Auto accidents are the greatest single cause of death for young people between the ages of six and 27. Almost half of these accidents involve alcohol.
  • Your chance of being involved in a drunk-driving accident increases dramatically with every two beers you drink. Have a six pack and your chances of being in a drunk-driving accident are 44 percent.
  • 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related accidents, including car crashes.
  • Approximately 600,000 college students are injured under the influence of alcohol, many of which are automobile-related.

How much does DUI cost?

Beyond lost lives and painful injuries, alcohol-related crashes in the United States cost federal and local governments and taxpayers approximately $51 billion each year. (Blincoe et al., 2002)

Of course, a single DUI won’t cost you anywhere near that much. But getting caught driving under the influence can be an expensive. Costs vary state by state, but you could spend about $4,000-$5,000 on fines, impound fees, a DUI treatment program, insurance increases and other things—and that’s before you hire a lawyer.
Legal Consequences

Some consequences of a first DUI arrest and conviction are:

  • Your license will be suspended for a period of time.
  • You may have to participate in a treatment program.
  • You may even have to spend a weekend in jail.

But even for first offenders, DUI laws and penalties are getting tougher every year.

As of the end of December 2007, all states have:

  • Made 21 the legal drinking age
  • Passed Zero Tolerance laws prohibiting drivers under 21 from having any measurable alcohol in their system
  • Lowered the legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for adults from .1 to .08

And your failure or refusal to take a breathalyzer test has increased consequences. Nearly two-thirds of all states now allow arresting officers to confiscate your driver’s license on the spot!

Penalties for repeat offenders are also getting tougher. If you get a second or third DUI conviction and you will likely face:

  • Mandatory jail time
  • Longer license suspension
  • Larger fines

Even hardship licenses for driving back and forth to work are hard to get these days. So if you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having multiple DUI’s, severe consequences can be difficult or impossible to avoid even with a good lawyer. Most states now have Habitual Violator laws, which require felony convictions for three DUI convictions. Three-time losers can lose their driver’s license permanently and can even lose basic civil rights like the right to vote.

See what the laws and penalties are for DUI convictions in West Virginia

See how it will also affect you at WVU, see the Student Conduct Code

Long-term consequences

Once you’ve been convicted of a DUI, you will probably have to disclose that conviction on every future application you fill out. Most potential employers take DUI convictions seriously. A DUI conviction may also prevent you from joining the military or getting a government or civil service job.

If you’ve already got a DUI, now is the time to take advantage of every option within your reach to turn your life around. By recognizing that you have a problem and taking the initiative to get help, there is a chance you might even get your record erased.

Resources:

Blincoe L, Seay A, Zaloshnja E, Miller T, Romano E, Luchter S, et al. “The Economic Impact of Motor Vehicle Crashes, 2000.” Washington (DC): Dept of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 2002. Available online

Hingson, R. et al. Magnitude of Alcohol-Related Mortality and Morbidity Among U.S. College Students Ages 18-24: Changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, 259-79. Available online

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration(2008). High BAC Laws. Washington, DC: National Center for Statistics and Analysis Report No.: DOT HS 810 883.Available Online

Phoenix House: Facts on Tap