Whether you realize it or not, insurance companies have the ability to delve deep into your driving history to raise your rates if they deem you a risky driver. Instances like a DUI on your record can exacerbate the consequences when they decide to scrutinize.

In 2020, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 11,654 fatalities resulting from drunk-driving accidents, marking a 14% increase from 2019.

It’s a sobering reality that all drunk-driving incidents are entirely preventable. However, reminders of why one should never drive while impaired are always pertinent.

We recently spoke with Toronto DUI Lawyer Calvin Barry about his advice of those who have yet to understand the consequences of driving under the influence. Here are his five compelling reasons why driving under the influence should be avoided, along with some safe driving tips to safeguard your vehicle, finances, and most importantly, your life.

#1 – Endangering Lives (Including Your Own)

It’s an indisputable truth: Driving under the influence poses a significant risk to innocent lives. Nearly 12,000 fatalities were attributed to impaired driving in 2020 alone.

A single mistake made while under the influence can irreversibly alter lives. This sobering reality should serve as a strong deterrent against drinking and driving. Consider the repercussions: victims may require extensive time for healing and recovery, leading to lost wages and diminished earning potential. Furthermore, catastrophic accidents can inflict fatal injuries or leave individuals with temporary or permanent disabilities.

#2 – The Complexities of a DUI in Your Life

If you’re pulled over by a police officer who suspects you’re driving under the influence, expect to undergo field sobriety tests and possibly a blood alcohol content (BAC) test. A BAC of 0.08% or higher will lead to charges, regardless of your driving conduct.

After a DUI (sometimes termed DWI or OWI) charge, the severity of consequences depends on your case’s specifics and past DUI history. First-time offenses might have less impact than felony charges, yet repercussions can still be significant.

Potential outcomes include jail time, hefty fines, license suspension, and mandatory courses. Long-term implications are also possible. A DUI conviction could hinder job prospects, especially those involving driving, and strain personal relationships due to concerns over drinking habits.

Moreover, a DUI conviction remains on your record for life, affecting housing and loan applications. It’s crucial to mitigate these effects by considering options like DUI diversion programs or community involvement post-conviction.

#3 – The Financial Impact of a DUI

Upon a DUI conviction, fines are virtually inevitable, but the exact amount varies by state. Various expenses contribute to these fines, such as towing and storage fees if your vehicle is impounded, which can soar into the thousands depending on your location. A recent study by Arrive Alive found that the cost of a drunk driving conviction is approximately $23,000. Not small chunk of change!

Additionally, reinstating your driver’s license incurs costs, typically ranging from $20 in most states to $40-70 in others. Certain states, like Rhode Island, impose higher fees if your license was suspended due to a DUI.

#4 – Say Goodbye to Affordable Insurance

Insurance premiums are determined based on perceived risk, and a DUI on your record significantly raises that risk in the eyes of car insurance companies. Consequently, individuals with a DUI history may encounter exorbitant premiums, particularly if their actions resulted in damage to others or property. Some insurers may even opt to deny coverage altogether for those with a DUI record.

While certain insurers might not immediately increase premiums after a first offense, this varies depending on the company’s policies. Moreover, specific states mandate the submission of an SR-22 form, serving as proof of required liability car insurance coverage after a DUI. Often, insurance companies handle the filing of the SR-22 on behalf of the driver.

#5 – Navigating Legal Procedures Takes Time

While some may argue against it, securing the services of a lawyer or attorney post-arraignment can prove invaluable. They can guide you through critical decisions, like whether to plead guilty or seek a plea bargain.

In many instances of a first-time DUI offense, charges can be reduced or dismissed. However, enlisting the expertise of a DUI defense attorney can significantly improve your chances of a favorable outcome. Drawing upon their knowledge and skills, they’ll meticulously analyze the evidence against you, identifying any weaknesses or inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case.

Subsequently, the attorney will craft a robust defense strategy tailored to your circumstances. This may involve challenging the accuracy of breathalyzer or blood test results, or scrutinizing the legality of arrest procedures.

Safe Driving Guidelines

To prevent drunk driving, utilizing a designated driver while under the influence remains one of the most effective strategies. Whether relying on a sober friend or opting for rideshare services like Uber or Lyft, prioritize getting home safely without operating a vehicle yourself.

Additional safe driving tips encompass:

  • Adhering to the three to four-second rule to maintain safe following distances.
  • Maintaining vigilant awareness of your surroundings.
  • Strategically planning your driving, anticipating potential hazards from other motorists.
  • Abiding by speed limits to minimize the risk of accidents.

By embracing safe driving practices, you not only safeguard your life and the lives of others but also shield your finances. Furthermore, many auto insurance providers offer discounts for demonstrating safe driving habits.