How Drinking and Driving Hits the Wallet

By Brittany Hawthorne


For many reasons, driving under the influence is a horrible idea, no matter what the context of the situation is. But this new report by Greenhouse Treatment detailing exactly how expensive a first time DUI can be will convince you to never drive drunk again. 

People probably don’t do a full cost-benefit analysis before getting behind the wheel after they’ve had a few drinks – but they probably should. If they did, they’d see that the costs significantly outweigh the benefits when it comes to a DUI. 

Oftentimes people only consider the short term outcomes – they need to get home and they have a car that will get them there for free, rather than spending money on transportation. After the countless campaigns outlining the dangers of drinking and driving, people know by now that this is far from the safe option. Still, people still too often think they’re invincible from the horror stories and opt to take the risk. 

When people think about the financial consequences of drinking and driving, they likely only think about the cost of the fine they’ll receive. While that ticket may be a steep price, it’s not the only thing to calculate into your budget. 

Getting a DUI comes along with a slew of other expenses people often don’t think about. From the ignition interlock device to court-ordered courses such as drivers education or substance abuse classes to license reinstatements, the price of recovering from a DUI can quickly add up. 

All of these components are dependent on the state and its specific regulations. That means that the cost can significantly vary depending on where a person is in the nation. For example, in some of the more expensive states such as Oregon, the cost of a DUI can be a maximum of $7,300+ all things considered. 

Of course, it’s not always that expensive – but it is rarely cheap. The average minimum cost of a DUI (meaning in the least severe situations across the nation) is approximately $1,459. That may not compare to Oregon’s maximum, but it’s still a high amount that very few people are willing to drop at any given moment. 

And if you think that will cover all the costs, you’d still be wrong. This value accounts for only the government-related fees. Anyone with a DUI can expect their annual insurance premium to increase from anywhere between $370 and $4,700. This isn’t a one-time flat fee either, it’s something that will continue to haunt you year after year. 

Bottom line: it’s never worth it. No matter how far away you are from home, it’s probably cheaper to call an Uber than to pay up to $7,000 – not to mention the lives put on the line every time someone drives under the influence.

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