It's Monday night and you meet your buddies for some beers and football at Buffalo Wild Wings. For once, your favorite hometown team is on fire and to join in on the merriment, you put back a few beers. You eat some wings and drink a little water. Somewhere after beer number six, you've lost count of how many drinks you've had.
The check arrives. Everyone pays and gets ready to leave. You put your hand in your pocket and finger your car keys as you mentally go over the route home. It's not that far, you say. It's late and there won't be too many cars out on the road. You stumble out to your car sitting in the almost vacant lot. You sit down in the driver's seat, about to put the keys in the ignition and then…
Your overwhelming guilt suddenly causes you to reconsider driving home. You decide to take a nice nap right there in the driver's seat. You admit to yourself that you're trashed and it's best to just sleep it off for a few hours and then drive home. The keys return to your pocket, you recline the seat and peacefully doze off proud and assured that you've done the right thing and no cop is ever going to arrest you for a DUI.
Here's a rude awakening: As long as those keys sit in your pocket, you are technically in control of your vehicle and the police can arrest you for driving under the influence.
In Thursday's Citizen Police Academy class, Burr Ridge Police Officer Andrew Flentge went over what constitutes a DUI arrest and how the police conduct field-sobriety tests.
For anyone who's been through driver's education or watched enough TV, we know that drunk driving is a serious offense and in addition to putting people's lives at risk, it's just not a good idea. What is surprising to me however, is how expensive a DUI arrest and conviction can be. You'd think that the fines and lawyer's fees alone – not to mention public embarrassment – would be enough to keep the drunks off the road.
This is not the case in DuPage County.
In 2008, DuPage County alone saw just over 5,300 DUI arrests, according to the Illinois Secretary of State. DuPage came in second to Cook County in most DUI arrests for that year. Illinois had over 48,000 arrests in 2008, which is actually down from previous years. Statistics for 2010 are not yet available.
So there's either a lot of drunk drivers in Cook and DuPage County, or our law enforcement officials are cracking down on drunk drivers.
Should you decide to drive drunk, get ready to pony up.
A DUI arrest will cost you:
- Up to $2,500 in fines for the first and second arrest, up to $25,000 for the third arrest.
- $110 per month for the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) during the suspension/revocation period.
- Loss of work time.
- Increased car insurance rates.
- A minimum six month suspension of driving privileges, minimum one year for second and third arrests.
Average economic consequences of a DUI conviction:
- $4,500 in high-risk insurance rates.
- $5,000 in legal fees.
- $3,750 in court costs.
- About $4,000 in lost income for the four weeks of jail time or community service you'll have to complete.
- $400 in rehabilitation/substance abuse classes.
- Over $500 to get a new driver's license.
- $760 in BAIID costs.
- All in all, around $18,000. The consequences are more severe if you injure another passenger.
Information courtesy of the Illinois Department of Transportation.