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Can you afford a DUI?

Maybe you're saving money for a dream vacation, or you plan to upgrade your kitchen. Maybe you want to buy new furniture, or you're hoping to save up enough to invest in your retirement. You may hear lots of advice for managing your money to accomplish any of these goals. However, one important piece of advice that may be missing could save you from losing all those dreams in one night.

Drive sober. Following this piece of wisdom could save you thousands of dollars. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates drivers spend about $52 billion a year on the consequences of DUI violations. Because of the pressure on state and local governments from safety advocates and proponents of tougher laws, Florida and other parts of the country continue to make things hard for convicted drunk drivers, even for a first offense.

The cost upfront

The laws vary from state to state, so it may be impossible to know all the consequences of DUIs if you drive across the country. In some states, a first offense is little more than a traffic ticket, and the judge may have a choice of whether to impose a fine or jail time. Other states, however, impose mandatory jail sentences over which a judge has no discretion. In addition to fines and jail time, some of the common penalties for DUI convictions include:

  • Restitution
  • Alcohol driver education classes
  • Addiction counseling
  • License suspension
  • Ignition interlock device installation

In addition to the cost of each of these, you may receive a bill for things like blood and breath testing, jail release fees, reissuing of your license and attorney fees.

The practical cost

Your car insurance is likely to increase substantially. Additionally, if you lose your license, you may have to rely on public transportation or the kindness of friends to get to work or court-ordered appointments. The average total for a first-time DUI is as much as $10,000. None of this takes into consideration the cost of a DUI if it occurred in a school zone, with a child in the car or resulted in an accident.

If police arrest you, many jurisdictions publicize your name in the paper or on social media. Yes, this is embarrassing, but that's really the point. Shaming drunk drivers is one way in which authorities try to deter drunk driving. However, if your boss sees the news of your conviction, your job may be on the line, especially if you drive for a living or if your company's insurance requires the termination of those convicted of DUI.

You likely have your heart set on spending your money on anything other than the consequences of a DUI conviction. If you are already facing DUI charges, taking legal steps to avoid a conviction will undoubtedly benefit your future, along with your finances.

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Ian F. Mann PA

1424 Dean Street
Fort Myers, FL 33901

Toll Free: 866-416-1488
Phone: 239-935-5935
Fax: 239-332-5242
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