The cost of drinking and driving

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Christmas and the holidays are sneaking up on us and many people will drink more alcohol than usual whilst celebrating with after-work drinks, at Christmas office parties and whilst visiting family and friends to socialise.  And whilst you may be tempted to have just one drink or two and then drive home, I’m here to remind you it’s a terrible idea as I explore the cost of drinking and driving in more than one way.

The cost of drinking and driving

The true cost of drinking alcohol and driving and why you should NEVER drive under the influence

Drinking alcohol slows down our reaction times.  It affects our central nervous system causing us to react slower which could be the difference between life and death when driving.  According to the Alcohol Rehab Guide, alcohol can take 30 minutes to two hours to absorb into our bloodstream.  So even if you think you’re OK to drive and feel fine, the alcohol you just consumed might not be taking effect yet, hence why you should never drive when you have had an alcoholic drink: “During this time, your breathing may slow down and your cognitive skills may be delayed. Because of this, it is always dangerous to drink and drive.”

Drinking alcohol and driving can cause an accident

First things first, the obvious consequence we all know regarding drinking and driving.  Due to the effects on our response times, driving under the influence can cause an accident.  This is ultimately what we want to avoid and why drinking alcohol and driving is illegal in most countries.  

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Driving under the influence is illegal in most countries

Many countries have a legal blood alcohol content (BAC) limit.  If you are over the limit then it is illegal to drive, so you are actually breaking the law if you do. 

The true cost of drunk driving

There are so many knock-on effects from having a car accident whilst drink driving that you might not have thought about.  

Firstly, there is the potential cost to your life or another person’s life!  Car accidents are sometimes fatal and there have been many people killed at the hands of a person driving under the influence.  A car can be replaced.  A person cannot.  This is the ultimate cost of driving after consuming alcohol.  

Causing an injury to another person can take away their livelihood.  You could destroy someone’s life or inconvenience them, causing them a loss of income.

There are also many financial elements to driving under the influence that you may not have thought of that may continuously impact your finances negatively for years to come:

The cost of an accident

If you have an accident then you will have to declare this when you next apply for car insurance.  If you’re wondering how long does a DUI stay on your record for insurance then it can be as long as five years!  Causing an accident and also having drink-driving on your record will both push up your insurance costs for several years as you will be seen as a high-risk driver.  The result could be hundreds, or even thousands, more in insurance costs because of your dangerous decision.  

You may be sued and you may have to pay compensation to any victims of the accident as well as yours and their legal costs.  

Your car may also be unfit for purpose after an accident, so you may need to fund a new car.

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The cost of getting caught

Even if you don’t cause an accident, you will still suffer the cost of getting caught driving under the influence of alcohol if you are stopped by police.  Your insurance premium will rise due to any driving penalties.   You will often be given an on the spot fine by the police which could be in the thousands.  If you struggle to pay, this could land you in debt.

If you were driving particularly dangerously or were very over the legal limit then you may be sent to court incurring court costs and a larger fine.  You could even be imprisoned or completely banned from driving!  

The ongoing cost

As well as ongoing costs to your actual car insurance, there are other areas of your life that may also cost more if you receive drink-driving penalties.   If you are banned from driving, this could impact your work opportunities going forward.  Even if you are not banned, you could jeopardise your job if it requires driving and you have been served a drink-driving penalty.  You will need to declare this to your employer.

If you are injured in an accident then you may not be able to work for a period of time.  It is unlikely your employer will pay you more than standard sick pay for a couple of weeks, then you will lose income if you cannot work.

Another question you might ask yourself is can I get life insurance after a DUI?  Again, you can get life insurance, but you need to legally declare any driving penalties if asked, so as not to invalidate your insurance.  If you are seen as a high-risk person who may have alcoholism or drive dangerously, then your insurance premiums will be much higher, costing you more in the long run compared to someone who does not drink alcohol and drive. 

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The cost to society

Alcohol-related crashes cost the public too.  There is also a cost to society through potentially higher taxes to fund the law enforcement needed to tackle drunk driving, legal and medical costs that are not all covered by insurance, replacement of damaged road signs or cleaning up after a DUI accident, funding road traffic safety courses through taxes, and the cost of imprisonment if a person is jailed for their driving convictions. A driving ban can also affect who can be employed by a company, causing a decrease in economic growth and reducing productivity in workplaces.

Final word

It is never a good idea to drink alcohol and drive.  It can result in causing an accident with injuries or even fatalities.  Drunk drivers can also incur significant costs at the time of an accident or being caught, risk losing their driving licence and livelihood, as well as pay significantly more insurance going forward.