The High Cost of Driving Under the Influence

It has been calculated that driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can cost a driver up to $10,000 in fines, insurance surcharges and related expenses. (1) That cost can skyrocket depending on the severity of a resulting accident.

Last week, a New Jersey jury awarded $3,375,000 to Ernesto Sta Maria’s estate; Mr. Sta Maria was killed in an automobile accident in Middletown, NJ, in 2007. Mr. Sta Maria died from injuries suffered after his car was struck by another car driven by Christopher M. Brozyna, an off-duty state trooper whose blood alcohol level registered more than two times the legal limit at the time. (2)

The lawsuit, heard by Superior Court Judge Joseph Rea in New Brunswick, was first filed in April, 2008, and included several bars that presumably served Mr. Brozyna. The jury found Mr. Brozyna responsible for 57% of the amount awarded and split the remaining judgment between two Red Bank businesses – the Dublin House, 33%, and Ashes Cigar Club, 10%. (2)

Fortunately not all accidents are as tragic as this one, but the cost to the driver charged with a DUI can still be significant. The aforementioned $10,000 price tag can apply even when no accident occurs.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics for 2009 (the last year available), show alcohol was involved in about 32% of fatal automobile accidents – or 10,839 deaths. More than 1.4 million people were arrested on DUI charges that year. (1)

Expenses incurred from a DUI include bail, which ranges from $150 to $2,500 and towing fees, which range from $100 to $1,200. Additionally, drivers face increased insurance premiums for at least three to five years. Insurance can cost customers considered “high risk” an estimated $1,500 more a year than “preferred” customers. (2)

In New Jersey DUI cases, fines for first-time offenders can range between $250 and $500, depending on blood alcohol concentration. In addition, drivers are required to pay fees in excess of $500 to various alcohol-related funds and resource centers. Repeat offenders face fines between $500 and $1,000. All offenders are also hit with a three-year surcharge amounting to $1,000 per year. (3)

DUI charges are serious offenses that shouldn’t be taken lightly. If you or someone you know is involved in or the victim of a DUI-related accident, contact the accident lawyers at The Rotolo Law Firm. The firm is located on Route 22 in Lebanon, NJ, in close proximity to Clinton and Flemington, NJ.

(1) http://money.msn.com/auto-insurance/dui-the-10000-dollar-ride-home.aspx
(2) http://www.mycentraljersey.com/article/20111021/NJNEWS/310210033/Crash-victim-s-estate-awarded-more-than-3M

(3) http://www.state.nj.us/mvc/Violations/dui.htm