The Cost of a DUI vs. Being Responsible On New Year's Eve

by Zach Seemayer 12:53 AM PST, December 31, 2015
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Nearly everybody wants to ring in the New Year in the same way: spending the night with friends, family and a ridiculous amount of alcohol that will temporarily ruin your relationship with those first two groups.

But as fun as "downing eleven cups of champagne before falling into a pool" sounds, remember that you're probably going to need to get home -- and the last thing you want to do is drive drunk.

Seriously, it doesn't make any sense. Let's break it down and look at the numbers.

Let's say you simply get pulled over and arrested for a DUI, like the 214,828 people in California alone who were arrested for a DUI in 2013. The average cost – including legal fees, bail, towing fees, driver's ed and court costs – can range from $2,000 to $10,000. Let's average it out to $6,000.

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Now, that cost is assuming that you didn't do any damage to your car. But if you hit something? Well, that's a whole other can of worms.

First of all, depending on what you hit and how much damage you caused, you'll have to get your car fixed. Also, you're insurance premiums go through the roof immediately. Only, that doesn't really matter because you will likely have your license suspended.

But remember, you're also going to have increased court costs and legal fees. After all, you did damage to someone else's property as well. You could be looking at $10,000-$20,000 in fees.

That is, unless, you hurt someone. If you're drunk and driving, and you hit a car containing a person? You could face up to a year in jail.

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At this point, you have to add to our running total the cost of fighting a felony and the loss of a year's salary. Not to mention the price you would put on not being imprisoned for a year.

Let's not even get into the costs involved if you were to actually hurt someone badly -- or kill someone! It's not beyond the realm of plausibility. After all, 10,076 people were killed in drunk driving related accidents in America in 2013.

Needless to say, you're looking at over $100,000 in legal fees and general costs at this point. Not to mention soul-crushing guilt.

Or, you could call AAA, and they'll give you a ride back to your house for free.

"But what about my car?" you ask. "I'll have to go back for it!"

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Nope. AAA's Tipsy-Tow hooks your car up and tows it back to your house. It's right there in the title. You don't need to be a math genius to know that $0 is a lot less than $all-of-the-money-you-have-and-everything-you-will-ever-have-in-the-future, which is really what a DUI can cost you.

Or you can just read about all the celebrities (Michael Phelps, Amanda Bynes...) who have gotten drunk and driven their cars - only to be arrested and humiliated – just this year alone.

No one's saying that you can't drink. In fact, we've already given you a number of great cocktail recipes to enjoy on New Year's Eve. We're just trying to explain that getting a DUI is one of the most life-ruining things that can happen to you, and it's shockingly easy to avoid.

Have a safe, responsible New Year, and don't start off 2015 behind bars.