An article in the Los Angeles times by Jerry Hirsch entitled “First drunk-driving conviction can cost nearly $16,000 in California” states that the Automobile Club of Southern California has calculated that a first-offense DUI conviction can cost as much as $15,649 in the state of California. That’s a pretty steep price tag–especially considering it’s an entirely avoidable expense. What’s more, the price jumps up for individuals under the age of 21 to $22,492. That money could pay for a year of college tuition at many schools or even a new car.
Like many things, the cost of a first time DUI conviction is going up. In 2011, the price was about 29% lower.
This price was calculated by totaling up state and local fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees, and increased auto insurance rates. However, many potential costs were left out. For example, lost time at work, bail, car repairs (in the case of a crash), medical bills, other civil or criminal related charges, and new transportation (in the case of a suspended license) were not factored in.
While the price is certainly high, the potential for loss of life cannot be associated with any cost. A truly scary figure is that a recent report from AAA showed that 10% of drivers admit to operating a motor vehicle when they thought their blood alcohol content was above the legal limit in the last year alone. That percentage probably jumps even higher if you look over a longer period of time–say, two years or five years.