Ringing in the New Year is filled with festivities that for many include the consumption of alcohol. As you make plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve, consider this: your toast could cost you $10,000.
In Georgia, you can get a DUI with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08%. This means jail time, bail, fines, fees, and insurance-rate increases, even if you don’t have a wreck. You can also get a DUI-less-safe with a BAC of 0.05%, and the penalties are the same. It doesn’t take much alcohol—sometimes as little as one drink.
Each year, there are more than 60,000 DUI arrests in Georgia, most in five metro Atlanta counties. Nationally, approximately 10,000 people are killed in drunk driving crashes each year.
Law enforcement officials are cracking down on driving while impaired, especially on New Year’s Eve.
In addition to going to jail and having your name and mugshot in the newspaper and online, below are just some of the costs associated with DUI arrests:
- Bail: $150 - $2,500. The cost of DUI arrests depends on how many offenses you’ve had and your blood alcohol level.
- Towing: $50 - $200. The cost of towing and impounding your car adds up daily. Some cities even auction your car if you cannot afford to get it after 30 days.
- Insurance: $4,500 or more. One of the biggest hits a drunk driver takes is in insurance premiums, which can be affected for three to five years. Rates will likely double, triple, or even quadruple, and insurance companies will classify the policy as “high-risk.”
- Legal fees: $2,000 - $25,000. Some lawyers charge as little as $1,500 for a quick plea, but with so much at stake, many people accused of DUI fight the charge. That’s when legal fees start to add up.
- Fines: $300 - $5,000,depending on your offense and whether you have been arrested in the past.
- Alcohol evaluation: $95 - $300. An evaluation is required for anyone who is sentenced by a court for drunk driving.
- Alcohol Education and Treatment: $500 - $4,000 for basic treatment. If you are convicted, you must usually go through an education or treatment program, especially if your license has been suspended.
- One year of probation: Cost $40+ per month. Standard conditions of probation require monthly reporting and supervision fees.
- DUI School: $355 for Georgia’s Risk Reduction Program.
- License Reinstatement Fees: $210 - $410. If you are convicted of a DUI in Georgia (or any other state), you can expect to face several fees to secure the reinstatement of your driver's license. After you have completed a state-certified risk reduction program, which costs $292, you can reinstate your Georgia driver’s license for a fee of $210 - $410.
- Ignition Interlock Fees: $75 per month, per vehicle. If the judge requires it for probation, or if you have had prior DUIs, you will have to have an ignition interlock installed in everything you drive for a minimum of 6 months.
In addition to the “standard” costs of a DUI conviction, some consequences are more difficult to place a number on but can be devastating. DUI arrests and convictions cost money, time, and can lead to job loss, loss of professional license, or prevent future employment opportunities.
If you plan to drink, plan for a designated driver. If you’ve had too much to drink and don't have a designated driver, take a cab, Uber, stay where you are, or get a sober friend to drive you home. The consequences of drinking and driving are sobering!
To find safe rides across Georgia, download the Drive Sober, Georgia app provided by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, available for Apple and Android: http://www.gahighwaysafety.org.
If you or someone you know has a problem with alcohol and wants help, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line at (800) 715-4225 for free and confidential assistance, 24/7.