Only On 6: Drunk Driving Debt- Can You Afford It? - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Only On 6: Drunk Driving Debt- Can You Afford It?

In 2011 the District Attorneys Office in Wichita County had 400 DWI cases filed in the county. What likely started as a night of fun for these suspected drunk drivers turned into an expense that could take years to pay off. Newschannel 6 sat down and calculated the numbers that could have you thinking twice before.

Wichita Falls Police Officer Cherita Lewis said it's not uncommon she'll find a drunk driver during her patrol late at night.

"I'd say once a week depending on our call volume," she said.

Once a person is arrested they are taken to jail and that's when the fees start raking in. Since you're in handcuffs you can't get behind the wheel, a wrecker service will have to tow you car to the police impound. That towing fee is about $70.

Get comfortable because you'll likely spend the night behind bars. The next morning a magistrate will set your bail. It will range anywhere from $500 to $5,000. If you decide to bail out expect to pay a bondsman about 15 percent of your bond and $15 to the Sheriff's Office.

That's still the beginning you'll need a lawyer and they don't work cheap. Take $1,500 to $2,500 out of your pocket for that.

Then there is the automatic court cost. That is set at $360 but another fee could be tacked onto that and that can cost upwards of $2,000.

Once you're convicted you could be put on probation expect to pay about $600 for those costs. You'll also have to pay $80 for an alcohol related course and serve community service hours during your probation.

Let's not forget your license will be suspended so in all likelihood you'll have to pay for an occupation license if you need to drive. To file with an attorney it's about $800 and that includes all the fees associated with getting the occupational license when your suspension is up.

"Frankly many people don't bother to get one then they get pulled over again and they get arrested and ticketed for driving while license invalid," said Attorney Lee Ann Haines. "It's a common problem."

If your alcohol level was over .15 you'll be required to maintain an ignition device inside your vehicle. Add up that fee and its totals about $400.

And then you have your car insurance. Most insurance companies will drop you. You'll have to find another one. Those costs will be double what you were paying. Some insurance companies say over a three year period it's about $3,000 more.

Just when you think you've paid your fair share of fines the state tacks on an additional $3,000 fee.

Add it all up and you're looking at paying $11,460.

"There's always the personal costs maybe not having been to work that day, losing your job, having a wrecked car, potentially having a lawsuit because you've hurt someone in an injury," said Haines.

So ask yourself this before you sit behind the wheel, is it really worth it?

Click here to see TXDOT's comparison of alcohol crashes and injuries click here.

Cases filed with DA's office with offense date of 01/01/2011 through 12/31/2011:

DWI: 399
DWI 2d: 100
DWI Open Container: 31
DWI Repetition: 71
DWI with Child Passenger: 10

 

Crystal Hall Newschannel 6.