In exactly two weeks I will be enjoying my first joint, in two years…. while I ponder that moment, let me do some reflecting on the cost of a DUI- financially and personally.
I will be free of the “system”, the system that prides it’s self on justice. I committed a crime, yes, a terrible act of drinking and driving. I drove my car into the back of another car while they were yeliding for a red light. Had I been sober, this wouldn’t have happened, and had I not been so intoxicated, I would have had the conscious sense not to drive home.
“Do not drink and drive”. “Do not drive under the influence”. “Do not operate heavy machinery”, each of these statements is true, and what is challenging about them, is that the justice system decided to put a limit on the amount you can drink to drive legally. In all my time through this journey, in alcohol class, alcohol therapy and my continued non-court mandated therapy, I have come to the con conclusion that there shouldn’t event be a “legal Limit” for driving. There should be no exceptions, it should be a no tolerance law.
When alcohol can affect your judgement after the first sip, can you really be in the right state of mind to drive if you have had any drink at all? Why does the justice system set a limit of .08 BAC, if you will get a DWAI if your BAC is lower than the legal limit.
If the sentencing is so harsh, and alcohol is so dangerous, why not install a breathalyzer into every single car being manufactured? Why is there an illusion that its ok to drive after one drink, but not two? Why aren’t there cops with Breathalyzers outside sporting event parking lots, concerts, events, and outside bars. Maybe they could breathalyzer you and tell you not to drive, instead of waiting for you to get a DUI at some point.
Now anyone reading this who hasn’t gotten a DUI, is feeling like that statement might be unfair, why punish those who “drive responsibly”? Well the truth is, it doesn’t really matter if you have one drink or 5, the laws don’t protect you, and if you get caught, which many people don’t, the consequences are severe. (Don’t worry, it will catch up to you if you drink and drive, it always does)
If the justice system knows that, then why don’t they help the public and make them more aware, more aware of the consequences, more aware of our brain function after consuming even one drink. Why do alcohol commercials feature a drive to the beach with a 12 pack, when, if you follow the laws, you shouldn’t have driven to the beach.
Why don’t they help us make the right decision instead of “busting” a DUI and treating them like they drank and drove spitefully to injure someone. Courts claiming to have “brought in drunk drivers” as if the only way to prevent drunk driving is to catch them in the act.
Well the simple answer is MONEY. I searched the internet for information on how much revenue a single DUI produces for the state, or even county, but It was very hard to find information.
I can tell you from my own experience the costs that went back to the court are as follows
$3,000 ish for court costs and fines due to the accident-DUI – paying for trusting of my blood sample, etc.
$1,300 for court mandated alcohol therapy and counseling
$15 per drug test x approx 88 for a two year sentencing= $1,300
$800 for an alcohol monitoring ankle bracelet they put on me for having diluted drug tests (without warning) – this is based off your social security and how munch money you make
$572 for probation officer fees – paying to be on supervised probation
Then the Jail time. I dont know how many tax payer dollars went to the state for me being in jail for 10 days, but I know the state and county must receive a stipend of tax payer dollars for every person sentenced to jail.
So just for the court and county fees alone that’s = $6,972.00
HA and that’s just what the state gets back from ME.
Then, with all the other sentencing requirements lets price that out for anyone curious about how much that costs
$250 Installation and removal of the interlock device
$1560, $65 per month for interlock recalibration – and sending results to DMV
$25 For a state issued ID when my license was revoked
$45 for a new “restricted License”
$25 for my re-issue of a Non Restricted License
$600 to get my car out of the impound lot
$500 total for the increased rate of my car insurance
$577.20 for the 52 hours of community service (at minimum wage in CO)
$5,000 retainer and fee for a lawyer, who didn’t do much for me
$1,300 for missed work while I was in Jail (was supposed to be released for work, but that never happened)
So in addition to the top section that went directly to the state, lets add the personal costs
The DUI cost me about $16,854.2
As for the personal effects of the DUI, I suppose I can only blame those on myself and, the results from what I had been sentenced.
– I am thankful for the court mandated therapy, I dont think I would have made it through the entire process without that support system in place. They were there sharing the stories if their loves with me every Tuesday for over 6 months. And they were there for me, in a way no one else was, when I got out of jail.
– After my time in Jail, my anxiety was heightened, My depression sunk its roots deep within me, and i was suffering from post traumatic stress disorder. I would wake up at 2 am every morning driving sweat in the middle of a night terror. It was a sleeping panic attack. I couldn’t be awake or asleep and be safe from my thoughts.
– I would have panic attacks after every appointment with my probation officer, after every court date, after every therapy session or during. I would have panic attacks in the middle of a work day, or even at 9 am on a work day because I was worried about everything.
– I had a strong period of time, where I was motives that time on probation would give me time to fix myself. But then I let the officers break me, and whittle me down to nothing. Like a bad dog getting shamed for anything it does. It broke me, and slumped into a depression, I couldn’t recognize myself, I couldn’t eat, couldn’t go to work on time, or be fully present, I couldn’t do anything I loved because I didn’t have the energy.
– I lost a lot of friends. They say you find out who truly cares about you when you go through a hard time, and it’s so very true. I dont think people were upset with me, but they stopped calling, they stopped inviting me out, they stopped keeping me in the loop with friends, and left me to my depression and anxiety, a burden to them, I was too much work and not enough fun for them.
– it had great costs on my family too, they came to m court dates and helped me pay for a lawyer up front. But my mother watched me get sentenced to jail. She watched me get SENTENCED to jail. I never wanted that for my family, I never wanted to be that person, but there I was begging my judge to let me be on house arrest, that jail time would do irrevocable damage to me, and it did. My parents answered every call from me panicked and crying for what seemed like every day for a year, they came to therapy with me and learned of things they didn’t know before, about rape, about my panic attacks, about how much I loathed myself and my situation, and about how I danced around the thought f suicide after I got out of jail. I worried them, I would call in tears from the dr office, from the drive home from a meeting with my po, after I had taken a drug test and felt so dehumanized. They were there through everything, and while it was a terrible burden to them, I have never been closer with my parents.
I liked to have fun. That was the reason I drank on weekdays at happy hour. I enjoyed the confidence that alcohol brought with it. The restless mind I got when I smoked weed. The sweet feeling of a night of full rest.
But I will emerge from this experience a completely changed person.
I don’t wish a DUI on anyone. But I do hope this helps you see that the costs are so high, not only financially, but emotionally, if you plan to have even one drink, plan a ride home before you start drinking.
– Love Viv