Some of the consequences of driving under the influence should be obvious-a person’s judgment is impaired, so they could kill or injure themselves or someone else.
But there are other ramifications of getting a DUI.
“[What is] not ever discussed are the collateral consequences,” Chattanooga attorney Jerry Summers with Summers & Wyatt said.
From huge financial burdens to problems with employment, the collateral costs of a DUI can be high.
A recent study found that Chattanooga is ranked 11th in fatal alcohol-related crashes per capita in the nation.
The more a person is charged with driving under the influence, the more it can cost, Summers said.
And there can be other costs.
“The collateral consequences can make it one of the most expensive offenses,” Summers said. “Tennessee’s present DUI law is staggered. The more times you’ve been convicted, the [more] the punishment and fines go up.”
But even one offense can mean thousands of dollars in fines-minimum.
Each case is unique, but a defense lawyer can cost hundreds of dollars or $1,000-plus, Summers said.
And the court fees are also significant.
Blood alcohol tests can cost $250.
And calling experts to the stand if a person wants to go to court for a DUI charge can add thousands to the tab.
And there’s bail, towing, insurance costs and other fees.
The total cost can tally up to $10,000, according to MSN Money.
And there’s more.
Summers said that Hamilton County laws make it difficult for anyone who goes to jail for a DUI to keep their jobs if they have to miss too much work.
In 2012, more than 10,300 people died in alcohol-related vehicle accidents, according to NerdWallet.
And drunken driving costs $199 billion a year in the U.S.
Also according to the study:
Drivers in some cities are disproportionately affected by these costs. For example, you are more likely to encounter a drunk driver in Tulsa, Oklahoma, than in San Francisco, California. Even so, the cities with the highest number of fatal alcohol-related vehicle crashes per capita aren’t the cities where drivers see the steepest auto insurance increases after receiving a DUI.
John Kuo, who conducted the NerdWallet study, said that he wanted to see if the number of fatal DUIs per capita in each city impacted the insurance rates of citizens.
“It has a lot less impact than we were expecting,” he said.
So, yes, Chattanooga has a high rate of fatal alcohol-related crashes per capita. But that doesn’t lead to Chattanoogans having higher insurance rates, according to the study.
“Six out of our 10 cities where we had the highest DUI fatalities per capita-they actually have lower-than-average car insurance increases,” he said.
But just because it doesn’t impact everyone doesn’t mean that the individual getting a DUI won’t see hefty fines, Kuo said.
It varies from city to city, but the national average of insurance cost increase is more than $850 a year, he said.
“In terms of the impact on your finances, getting a DUI is really, really expensive. The main takeaway is ‘don’t drink and drive,'” Kuo said.