Driving Drunk on New Year’s Eve Could Cost You $10,000

Sure you know you’re supposed to follow a budget and keep the credit card use to a minimum to avoid common holiday money mistakes. However, as millions prepare to celebrate the final holiday of the year — New Year’s Eve — many will commit one of the dumbest holiday money mistakes in existence.

The worst part is, it’s so easy to avoid, there’s no excuse for making it.

Before you get caught up in the excitement of holiday partying, learn why driving under the influence can end up costing you more than you think.

DUI at the Top of Holiday Money Mistakes

While Thanksgiving is the holiday with the highest number of DUI arrests, we all know more than a few bottles of champagne get popped on New Year’s Eve.

You might not think it’s a big deal to drive home after a couple glasses, but getting arrested for driving under the influence will easily cost you $10,000, even if you didn’t crash into anything (or anyone).

Total Cost of a DUI

There are quite a few expenses associated with a DUI arrest. Here’s a brief breakdown of what you can expect to pay in you’re a first-time offender (an accident or repeat offense increases these numbers significantly):

  • Bail: $500 – $2,500. You will more than likely have to post bail, and that number will vary depending on the specific charges.
  • Towing and Storage: $100 and up. When you’re arrested for driving under the influence, your car gets towed and stored in an impound lot. Not only does the tow cost money, but impound lots will charge a daily fee for holding your car until you pick it up.
  • Legal Fees: $2,500 and up. You’ll need a lawyer to represent you in court.
  • Fines: $2,500. There are a number of government fines to pay, depending on the state, and they aren’t cheap.
  • Alcohol Education Program: $1,500 – $2,500. Usually, a DUI conviction means you’re required attend a drug/alcohol education and treatment program, which you’re also responsible for covering out-of-pocket.
  • License Reinstatement: $100 – $500. Before you’re allowed to hit the road once again, you must pay to get your driver’s license back.
  • Insurance hike: $1,500 – $2,000 extra per year for three to five years. If your auto insurance provider doesn’t drop you as a policyholder completely, the rate they charge could become astronomical.

Then there are the numerous other financial consequences that could potentially affect you, from having an ignition interlock device installed in your vehicle to losing income from missing work to attend court. If you caused damage as a result of driving under the influence, you could even face a lawsuit.

Bottom Line: Driving Under the Influence Costs You Big

Cost of a Taxi Home: $10 – $50

Cost of a DUI: $10,000

If that isn’t enough to convince you driving under the influence just isn’t worth it, these facts provided by dui.lifetips.com should sober you up:

  • One person is killed every half-hour due to drunk driving.
  • Each year, approximately 16,000 people are killed in alcohol-related crashes.
  • Alcohol is a factor in almost half of all traffic fatalities.
  • Every other minute a person is seriously injured in an alcohol-related crash.

Even if you aren’t concerned about the financial impact of getting caught driving under the influence, understand that you’re also putting the lives of others — as well as your own — at risk when you drink and drive.

Alternatives to Driving Under the Influence

There are plenty of ways to get home after a night of drinking that don’t have to cost a lot of money. If no one is up for being the designated driver, try one of these options:

Take a Taxi or Uber

It’s a no-brainer: Use a ride sharing service or call up a cab and shell out a couple of twenties for a safe ride home.

Ride the Bus

If you really want to travel on the cheap or your destination is close to home, take public transportation. You can also take a bus to your destination and then cab home.

Call AAA Tipsy Tow

On New Year’s Eve, you have another transportation option and it costs nothing. Call 1-800-222-4357 (1-800-AAA-HELP), which is the Tipsy Tow hotline, to have someone from AAA tow your car and your tipsy self home for free (up to 10 miles). You don’t even have to be a AAA member.

Just Stay the Night

If your New Year’s Eve party location is too far away for alternative transportation options, just stay there until morning. You can get a hotel room (did someone say after party?) or crash at your friend’s place and offer to help clean up in the morning.

When it comes to saving money during the holidays, it’s not always easy to stick to a budget or keep track of all your receipts. Driving under the influence and getting stuck with thousands of dollars in court fees, however, is just plain dumb.

Why risk your savings, health and reputation? If you can’t be a responsible adult and find some way to get a ride from a sober driver, you’re better off just staying home Wednesday night.

Photo credit: Jeffrey Smith