S.C. Highway Patrol: Consider how much your ride home might cost

Published 3:56 pm Thursday, December 31, 2009

The South Carolina Highway Patrol wants motorists to do some math before drinking and getting behind the wheel this holiday season.
“A fare for a short taxi ride home is about $12 dollars,” said Highway Patrol Colonel F.K. Lancaster Jr. “A first offense DUI will cost you about $10,000.”
Lancaster said that most people dont realize the full cost of a DUI. It goes well beyond a night in jail, losing your license, or simply paying a fine. “Before you take that first drink,” Lancaster said, “Ask yourself if you and your family can afford a DUI.”
How do the costs of DUI break down in South Carolina? These are just a few of the average costs for a first offense DUI. They are minimal compared to those that would be incurred for subsequent offenses or from a felony DUI charge.
Motor Vehicle Insurance fees: the cost of insurance typically doubles for at least the first three years after a DUI conviction. For the average driver in South Carolina that means a total increase of about $3,000;
Court fees: the fines for a DUI in South Carolina can be up to $2,000, but will be a minimum of $1,000;
Attorney fees: according to attorneys throughout the state, $3,500 is the average cost to fight a first offense DUI;
Alcohol and Drug Safety Action Program (ADSAP): drivers charged with DUI in South Carolina are required to go through the ADSAP program. The minimum cost for ADSAP is $500; additional fees could be as high as $2,500;
Bail Bondsman: bail bondsmen charge a maximum of 15% of the fine. For a DUI, that equates to at least $150;
Vehicle towing: having the vehicle towed after a DUI arrest generally costs about $150;
License reinstatement fee: the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles charges a $100 license reinstatement fee.
Other DUI costs can be more long-term including loss of employment (due to the DUI charge itself or not having a license to get to work) and failure to get a new job because of the blemish of a DUI on your record, time off from work fighting the charges, increases in life insurance premiums and/or losing a professional license.
Lancaster said that the Highway Patrol is emphasizing the costs of impaired driving because, in some peoples minds, the financial end often seems more real than the possibility they could kill someone by their actions. “We live in a world where many young people and adults alike operate with the mindset that it cant happen to them.”
However, the statistics show a different story. Nearly half of all fatal collisions in South Carolina were attributed to impaired driving in 2008.
Lancaster said that despite the intense DUI media and enforcement, which began December 16, he believes that some people will roll the dice and try to make it home.
However, motorists should be warned that New Years weekend is the most heavily staffed travel holiday of the year for the Highway Patrol. It is also a time when law enforcement combines resources to bolster their presence and create a deterrent for would-be violators. The Highway Patrol will participate in and lead public safety checkpoints, saturation patrols, and also widely use its new DUI Team. Last year, eight people were killed during the New Years holiday.
Sources: South Carolina Insurance News Service, SC Department of Motor Vehicles, SC Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Service (DAODAS), Allstate Insurance, South Carolina Courts and sampling of South Carolina attorneys.

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