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Impaired driving, on New Year's and beyond, part 1: the costs

In the San Diego area and across the nation, law enforcement agencies know they need to be on heightened alert tonight.

After all, year after year too many people drive while impaired on New Year’s Eve. This raises the risk of car accidents that claim lives and cause serious injuries.

Of course, heightened patrols and checkpoints aren’t the only tactic used by law enforcement to try to deter driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

In this two-part post, we will also take not note of the potential cost to the driver of a drunk-driving arrest. We will also discuss new efforts in one jurisdiction in Southern California to test for drugged driving.

So how much expense to the arrested driver does a drunk-driving arrest typically involve?

The figure, by one reliable estimate, easily can exceed $10,000. Indeed, the Automobile Club of Southern California puts it at nearly $16,000 overall for a first-time offense. This includes not only fines and fees, but also increases in car insurance premiums that flow from the drunk-driving conviction.

Obviously this is quite a bit of money compared to taking a cab. But it is a pittance compared to the costs of the injuries and wrongful deaths caused by drunk-driving accidents.

There are many safety advocates across the nation who would like to see states do even more to prevent drunk driving. For example, the National Conference of State Legislatures reports that only a minority of states require ignition-interlock devices after first-time drunk-driving convictions.

In part two of this post, we will discuss how, up the freeway from San Diego, authorities in Los Angeles County are promoting the use of a new portable test for drugged driving.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Portable drug test a new addition at New Year's DUI checkpoints," Paresh Dave, Dec. 27, 2013

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