Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The High Cost Of Driving Drunk

2,000 people a year die from drunk driving auto accidents in the United States. Of the 900,000 annual DUI arrests, more than one-third are repeat offenders!  That fact is astounding!  You would think THEY WOULD LEARN the first time, seeing as how deadly, dumb, and costly driving drunk is!
The sad stories pile up every day, and not just in America. The latest international tragedy happened yesterday.  South Africa's beloved anti-apartheid icon 'Nelson Mandela' planned on attending the opening ceremonies of World Cup Soccer being hosted in his hometown of Johannesburg.
Instead, he stayed home with his family, mourning the death of his 13-year old great-granddaughter Zenani who was killed in a car accident after attending a concert the night before.
The man driving the car lost control and slammed into a barrier, after which he was found to be drunk, was arrested on site, and faces serious charges, including homicide.  He probably won't see the light of day again for a long time, let alone have another chance to drive drunk!
However, millions of other drivers suffering from far less, grave circumstances, somehow manage to take even more chances....and get caught again!  Then, they get flattened again with enormous financial losses that are so hefty--it seems impossible for anyone short of  a millionaire to afford!
Young drivers just starting out should pay attention to this, especially those in California, where DUI frequency is ranked in the upper third nationwide. Here is a financial breakdown of just how much it costs for your first, "routine" DUI issued in California!
Hint: Do you have $7000 to $20,000 handy? (prices vary depending on case, judge, attorney,etc)
FINE                                                                 $390-$1200
ATTORNEY FEES                                           $500-$10,000
INSURANCE RATE INCREASES                  $3600-$6600
Total: $4490-$17,800 (and..there's more)
Penalty Assessment Fee                                      $666
State Restitution Fund                                         $100
Alcohol Abuse Ed. Fund                                     $50
Blood or Breath Testing Fee                               $37
Jail Release Fee                                                  $10
Alcohol Awareness School                                 $500
Towing and Storage                                           $190
Total: $6140-$19,450 (and there's more still)
Ignition Interlock Device Installation                   $100
Ignition Interlock Device Annual Fee                  $720
Lost Time and Wages                                        $$$$$$ lots!
Now, remember,  these are costs for a "routine" DUI. If you also damage your vehicle or other property, or if you've injured or killed someone....these costs would only be a fraction of what you'll REALLY PAY!
I'm happy to say I've never been cited for DUI, and that covers 37 years of driving in the San Francisco Bay Area, mostly in San Jose and Campbell where I grew up, and also much of the state....including 7-years in Bakersfield, and two years in Reno Nevada.
For me, it took only one colossal drunk driving episode of stupidity and luck at the same time, to learn my lesson!. My freshman year at San Jose State University,  I drank wine for the first time, and put down 7 or 8-glasses at a fraternity party. 
When I woke up on my bedroom floor with a pounding, sick hangover... I had no idea how I got there, and no recollection of driving home!
I kept thinking miserably-- what happened during that 8-mile ride I DON'T REMEMBER....from downtown 10th street....on to Hwy 280...exiting at Southwest Expressway...down Meridian Ave....and HOME! HOW! 
I immediately hit my knees and thanked God for not  being one of those fools who never wake up from this! That very revelation scared the hell out of me....forever!  I never did that again, ever! 
 My very best friend was not so lucky. He often prided himself on being able to skillfully drink and drive.  One day long ago, I had to pick him up from a drunk tank in Hollister, California....where he also told me,  "he didn't remember how he got there, hung over on a jail cell floor!"
It took him a few more mistakes, many thousands of dollars, and six years without his license to finally see the light. Today, he is richer, happier, and totally sober, having raised a wonderful family. Neither of us uses alcohol, and that's a good story...being able to joke about the wild old days!
We both learned our lessons in different ways, but the key for all young California drivers...and drivers everywhere--is not to drink and drive at all!  No need to learn any lessons!  Just DON'T do it.  You'll  save lives....and lots of money! 
Thanks, and drive safely and sober!
Sincerely, PeteCam4

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