An evening out with friends, conversation and a few drinks preceded the situation in which you now find yourself: an arrest for drunk driving. To a point, you understand your predicament. A criminal conviction for DWI could mean incarceration, probation and excessive fines. On top of that, you could lose your driving privileges and potentially face a civil lawsuit if the accident led to injuries to others.
However, hidden or “beneath-the-surface” costs exist, too; ones that are not so readily understood. An avalanche of hidden costs awaits you and could prove more damning than a criminal conviction. Here are a few: loss of job, losing custody of your children and a severe hit to your reputation.
Big hits to personal and professional reputations
The list of hidden costs related to drunk driving include:
- Expect higher auto insurance rates: In the eyes of your insurance company, you are now a dangerous driver. You likely have not seen rates this high since you were in your early 20s. With a conviction, insurance premiums likely double.
- Loss of income: A DWI conviction often leads to a jail sentence. Serving your time behind bars will not allow you to work. Your paychecks will shrivel sometimes to nothing.
- Costs associated with interlock device installation: New York residents convicted of DWI must have this expensive device installed in their vehicles if they want to drive. The device connects to your vehicle’s ignition and measures alcohol content in the operator’s breath. If alcohol is detected in the driver’s system, the device prevents the vehicle from starting. Some devices also include cameras.
- Rehabilitation program costs: A judge or your employer may order you to enroll in a treatment program, which can cost hundreds of dollars per day.
- Loss of your personal and professional reputations: A once-stellar reputation within the community disappears as you become a pariah among social circles. You also may see employment prospects dwindle or even lose your job.
- Losing child custody: This scenario does not happen often, but if you have been arrested multiple times for DWI, you could lose custody.
Please understand just how costly a DWI conviction can be. Its after-effects can linger for a long, long time.