The Automobile Club of Southern California has calculated that a first time misdemeanor DUI conviction can cost up to $15,649 in California.
That is an increase from 29% from 2011.
If you are a teen and get caught driving under the influence, the penalty is even higher: A whopping $22,492!
“It only takes one or two drinks to slow physical and mental skills that affect vision, steering, braking judgment and reaction time,” said the Auto Club’s Senior Researcher Steven A. Bloch. “Drivers should be aware that the California Highway Patrol and law enforcement agencies regularly use sobriety checkpoints to look for drinking drivers during heavy drinking periods.” An example of a heavy drinking period is the Independence Day and any three day weekend as well as Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
A recent study found that 10% of motorists admitted to driving when they thought their blood alcohol content was above the legal limit in the past year.
The Auto Club developed its cost estimate by totaling up mandated state and local fines, penalties, restitution, legal fees and increased insurance costs. The calculations do not include thousands of dollars of other potential expenses drivers might face if they lose work time for a criminal trial or to go to jail, need to pay bail or incur injury or vehicle damage from a crash they caused.
It also doesn’t include other potential drunk-driving-conviction consequences such as the risk of a civil trial or the requirement to install an ignition interlock in a vehicle.
"This is entirely preventable," Bloch said.