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DUI arrest a lot more than a slap on the wrist


Last updated 12/22/2006 at Noon

Anyone who has ever been behind the wheel of a motor vehicle knows of the potential dangers that come with operating an automobile. Such dangers are only heightened when motorists make the decision to drive while under the influence of alcohol.

Though some might feel a DUI is no different than your run-of-the-mill traffic citation, nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, many unforeseen problems can arise as a result of driving drunk.

· Insurance concerns. Insurance companies routinely check driving records when new applicants are applying for insurance. However, companies also might check driving records of current policy holders. Sometimes, a DUI arrest can slip through the cracks. However, more often than not, drivers can expect one of two things to result from a DUI arrest when it comes to insurance: higher premiums or being dropped entirely.

Some states prohibit companies from dropping drivers because of a DUI arrest, though most states don’t. Even if your insurance company does decide to keep you on, expect your premiums to go through the roof. The state of California, for instance, in the past has reported that alcohol-related crashes accounted for 20 percent of the state’s auto insurance payments. Such figures make it easy to understand why insurance companies typically come down so hard on DUI offenders.

· Civil suits. Should you get into an automobile accident with a blood alcohol content (BAC) lower than the relatively standard .08 most states use as a line of demarcation for sobriety, that may only clear you from criminal charges. If you’re involved in an accident where others are hurt or property is damaged and your BAC was .05 or .06, it’s not outlandish to expect a civil jury to find you liable. The term “legally intoxicated” only refers to criminal liability, not civil liability.

· Employment concerns. Should your DUI arrest result in a criminal conviction, by no means is a judge mandated to reinstate your license for work or school privileges. This could very well cost you your job. Though most first-time offenders will receive work or school privileges, it’s not set in stone. In addition, even if you are granted privileges, the increase in your insurance premiums might be far more than you can afford, which can create a sticky situation if you have no access to public transportation that can get you to and from work.

· Financial considerations. In addition to increased insurance rates, expect an immediate and very negative impact on your finances within days of being arrested for DUI. The aforementioned California, for instance, has proven somewhat of a trailblazer with respect to penalizing DUI offenders. The repercussions are often harsh, making it necessary for anyone hoping to avoid the full brunt of those penalties to obtain a competent DUI attorney. Attorney’s fees in those instance are often several thousand dollars. In addition to attorney’s fees, court costs, car impound fees and towing costs can pile up. There’s also a strong chance you’ll need to take time off from work, be it for a court appearance or to meet with a lawyer.

While none of these things are on the minds of people out having a good time with a few drinks, that isn’t to say they shouldn’t be. As devastating as these consequences can be, all of them can be avoided by simply calling a cab or using a designated driver.


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