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In 2007, over 1.4 million drivers were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or narcotics, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. But few drivers fully understand the impact of a DUI conviction.
Offenders could face jail time and a possible prison sentence, and the financial impact could be devastating: first-time offenders may be responsible for tens of thousands of dollars in costs and fees. On top of that, a driver's auto insurance rates could skyrocket following a DUI conviction.
The Cost of a DUI
Unless a driver lives in a city with an adequate public transportation system, there is no substitute for the convenience of driving a vehicle. Access to driving privileges makes it much easier to travel to work, school, or run errands. But salvaging the right to operate a vehicle can prove astronomically expensive following a DUI conviction.
The Illinois Secretary of State's office reports that the average cost of a DUI in Illinois is roughly $14,660. In other areas, the cost can be even greater. According to the Texas Department of Transportation, a DUI conviction in Texas can top $24,000.
DUI and Auto Insurance Rates
Skyrocketing auto insurance rates can add to the financial aftermath of a DUI conviction. After a DUI, you will be categorized as a high-risk driver. A convicted driver's premiums will rise and his carrier may non-renew or cancel your policy. Depending on a host of factors, including insurance company, age and gender, the driver's auto insurance rate may spike as a consequence of a DUI.
Depending on how long a DUI remains on a driver's record, these rates can continue for up to seven years. Furthermore, if any accidents and tickets (past or future) are present, the driver's auto insurance rate could soar even higher.
Steep Legal Consequences
Operating a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a major criminal offense, and the consequences of a DUI conviction are virtually endless. A conviction can lead to jail or prison time, a criminal record, court and administrative costs, attorney fees, community service requirements, alcohol education courses, substance abuse treatment, revocation or suspension of driver's license privileges, probation and more.
What the above estimates fail to account for is the number of hours it takes to satisfy all the corresponding obligations. Time spent in court, at alcohol and drug education classes, hours in treatment, restitution services, and jail time can turn a person's world upside-down.
Have a DUI? You Can Still Save on Auto Insurance
Let's face facts-if a driver is convicted of a DUI, his auto insurance rate is going to rise. But more than any other driver, those convicted of a DUI can't afford not to shop around for the best auto insurance rate available.
Although a driver with a DUI will have limited options, don't fall into the trap of signing on with the first company that offers you a policy. Conduct research, compare quotes and make a careful decision. In the meantime, take a conservative approach to driving and steer clear of tickets and accidents.
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