Drinking and driving could cost a lot more than the booze that got you over the limit.
That’s what the York County-based Center for Traffic Safety determines to be the cost of the average DUI arrest.
The organization cited the figure in its plea to St. Patrick’s Day celebrants not to drive impaired and to alert people that police will be out on checkpoints and roving DUI patrols.
The $10,000 figure comes from the Pennsylvania DUI Association, a Harrisburg-based non-profit that works to eliminate impaired driving.
The association’s George Geisler acknowledged it’s a ballpark figure, but provided some cost ranges:
• Fines: $500-$10,000. (Vary depending on blood alcohol content and whether it is a first or subsequent offense.)
• Bail: $150-$2,500.
• Legal Fees: $800-$8,000.
• Towing: $100-$1,200.
• Insurance: $1,500 per year for five to eight years as a high-risk driver — if insurance can even be obtained.
• Drug and alcohol abuse testing: $250.
• Treatment: $150-$2,000.
• Monitoring bracelet: $400 a month.
• Ignition Interlock: $1,200 to $2,000 a year — mandatory for a second offense.
• Court fees: Variable.
• Fees for victim assistance and compensation are possible and variable.
And there are other harder-to-calculate costs, such as lost work time, potential job loss and difficulty finding employment.
Many first-time offenders will be eligible for the accelerated rehabilitative disposition program, essentially a probationary program that enables a person to avoid a conviction and later to apply to have the arrest expungement from his or her record. That alone costs $600.
Lancaster defense attorney Steven L. Breit said the $10,000 figure doesn’t sound inconsistent with potential costs, though it’s possibly exaggerated to make the point that DUI is costly.
For a first-time offender with a straightforward case who enrolls in accelerated rehabilitative disposition, Breit estimated court costs and fines would be about $2,500.
Attorney fees would be on top of that. The going rate, he said, depending on the attorney, could be between $500 and $2,500.
And impaired driving isn’t only about alcohol, Geisler said. Increasingly, law enforcement is seeing drivers under the influence of various drugs.
Proving a driver was operating under the influence of drugs is an easier burden to meet than proving a driver was under the influence of alcohol to a degree that they could not safely drive, Geisler said.