In November, I pulled the trigger and wrote my final $800 check to cover the fine for my DUI. The last year, especially the first half of it, has been a struggle for me, going from a person who was the type to judge inebriated drivers, to someone who was handcuffed in a police car after failing to leave myself enough time after drinking at a networking event before getting behind the wheel.
If you’re the type of person who goes out and parties all the time and laughs that you’ve driven drunk more times than you can count, getting a DUI would still be frustrating, but it probably wouldn’t cause you to question your entire identity. Over the course of participating in the various programs for first-time offenses, I met a variety of people spanning the gamut from those who were partying hard and woke up in the hospital after getting behind the wheel to others who were older parents coming home from an evening out at a nice restaurant, who were arrested after their tire blew out, unrelated to their drinking. In the eyes of the law, rightly so, these people are not judged differently. (In fact, I was stunned that often the person who had a much higher BAC and flipped their car managed to get off a lot easier due to a good lawyer or luck with their prosecutor!)
For me, I was always frustrated with “how” I got caught (a citizen called 911 on me as I walked to my car) but deep down knowing that I needed the wake up call. It was a wake up call not just to this particular poor choice, but a downward spiral I had let myself get on in my life. The more stressed and depressed I got, the worse choices I made. I’m glad that I didn’t end up on a hospital bed or worse. But I did end up with one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life, going from goody two shoes to defendant.
Now that I’ve finally paid off the last bit of my DUI fine, I’ve tabulated the costs this stupid mistake have cost my networth. This isn’t over yet, however, as I still have nearly 3 more years of increased insurance, which has kept me from purchasing a newer car. In fact, I’m driving around in an embarrassing beater to remind myself of the money I lost to this, and balance some of it out, at least the insurance fees.
Total Spent on DUI (First Offense)
$1806 DUI Fine
$732 First Offender Class
$25 Duplicate License
$3168 ($88 x 3 x 12) on insurance fees
There is likely other costs that I haven’t included here, so I estimate the DUI will cost $10k by the time I’m done with it. For instance, if I want to go to Canada within the next 13 years I’ll have to pay a few hundred dollar entry fee to apply since in Canada they consider a DUI a felony. So I’m probably not going to Canada for a while, but these are costs that will add to the total that I haven’t considered yet.
It really is crazy how one really stupid mistake and bad choice can cost you nearly $10,000. When they say “it’s cheaper to call a cab or EVEN A LIMO to take you home when you are drinking,” they’re right. I should have called for a limo both home and back to my car for every night I went out drinking and I’d still end up ahead. Or, more reasonably, a taxi. $10k / $100 goes a long way.
Lesson learned the hard way.