Cost of a DWI Crash

(reprinted courtesy of The Albany County Sheriff's Office StopDWI Department)


In NYS, if you are involved in a DWI crash and have been drinking, what happens?
The best case scenario is that it is a minor property damage crash.
You could be convicted of a DWI if your blood alcohol content(BAC) was .08% or above.

A minimum cost analysis follows:

Towing/Car Storage                                                $100.00
Bail                                                                        $250.00
DWI Fine                                                                $500.00
Attorney's Fees                                                     $1,500.00
Court Fees                                                              $200.00
Loss of 2 days Work                                                $250.00
Alcohol Evaluation                                                    $90.00
Crime Victims Fund                                                   $10.00
Monthly Probation Fee                                               $30.00
Drinking Driver Program                                          $175.00
Conditional License                                                    $75.00
License Reinstatement Fee                                          $50.00
Increased Insurance Rates for 3 years                     $5,000.00
Total                                                                  $,8,230.00

What if you are injured? Who will pay for your health costs?
Some Health Maintenance Organizations(HMOs) do not pay medical expenses if you have been drinking;
however, your no fault insurance may. A trip tothe emergency room by amulance locally could cost you $300.
If you have to take a medivac helicopter it could cost $5,000.00 to $10,000 depending on the distance to the hospital.
A basic medical assessment in the emergency room is a few hundred dollars. Hospital daily rates could cost you $1,000.00.
Long term intensive care can saddle you wiht bills in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Then there is a $6,000.00 surgeon's bill for severe injuries.
Even if it is only a few stitches, the bill can approach $1,000.00!

What if you die?
Your insurance policy will not give you death benefits. Your family will be saddles wiht those medical costs. Funerals are a minimal $6,000.00. Is this a bit morbid? yes!
The reality is that DWI costs. Think of the costs of injuring or killing another person. One fatherwhose son was killed after a night of drinking remarked, "Thanks God he killed only himself". every family member's life is altered. No one will be the same. Immeasurable pain sustained through a lifetime can be the legacy of a DWI.

Most first time DWIs and second time offenders do not serve jail time, although the judge has the option of oneyear for first time DWI offenders and four years for second timem offenders. The penalties for drunk driving are as follows:

1st DWI Offense                        Jail Sentence up to 1 year
                                               $500 -$1,000 fine, plus fees
                                               Minimum 6 month license suspension
                                               Alcohol Treatment, restitiution to victims, and attendance at a victims panel

2nd DWI Offense(within 10 years)
                                               Jail Sentence up to 4 years
                                               $1,000 - $5,000 Fine, plus fees
                                               License revocation for 1 year minimum,(Ineligible for restricted privileges)
                                               Alcohol treatment, restitution to victims, and community service
                                               Probation and Ignition Interlock
Penalties for Minors
                                               Drivers under age 21 convicted of driving with a BAC of 0.02% or more can be fined, required to                                               complete community service and lose their driving privileges for 1 year or until age 21, whichever is                                               longer

The same person looking over the cost of a DWI crash, let alone the legal penalty, would wonder why anyone would risk legal sanctions, injury and death just for a six pack or a number of glasses of wine.

The legal limit is .08% BAC in New York State. You have to drink a number of drinks to reach .08%, conservatively estimated at four drinks in one hour for a 170 pound make and three drinks in one hour for a 140-pound female. Yet the average BAC in Albany County NY for the past twenty years is slightly above .15% BAC. Why do people drink to get drunk and then drive?

The first part of the equation is some individual problem drinkers just drink to get obliterated or intoxicated. Social drinking to these people is not the norm. It is estimated that 40% of DWI offenders are problem drinkers or alcoholics. For these individuals, jail time is a brief respite in their drinking. It is up to these individuals to seek treatment or support in self-help groups based on an abstinence model. The justice system has examined the issue of the hard-core drunk driver. The legal penalties for the third time drunk driver is:

3rd DWI Offense(within 10 years)
Jail Sentence up to 7 years
$2000.00(minimum) to $10000.00 fine plus fees
License revocation for three years minimum(Ineligible for restricted Privileges)

Source: Dennis Foley, Albany County, NY Stop DWI Coordinator