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DUI: More Common Than You Think

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Getting a DUI can feel like the end of the world. The impact a DUI has on your bank account and life can be costly, but it’s possible to recover. DUIs are a lot more common than you might think. Today we’re going to tell you all about DUIs and the impact they have on your life.


All About DUI

DUI, or, Driving Under the Influence, is a legal term pertaining to operating a vehicle while drunk. The term applies only to alcohol and DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) often get used interchangeably, but they carry separate legal penalties.  It’s worth noting that non-motorized vehicles, I.E., bicycles, skateboards, etc. are still forbidden to use while drinking in some states.

To determine the severity of the DUI, an officer will administer a BAC test. Blood alcohol content or BAC refers to the amount of alcohol absorbed into your bloodstream. Keep in mind that BAC and alcohol tolerance are separate entities. This means that while someone may still feel sober due to their high tolerance, they can still be under arrest for exceeding the legal blood alcohol content.

Also, a vehicle doesn’t have to be engaged for the driver to receive a DUI. Displaying the intention to operate the vehicle, for example, sitting in the driver’s seat of a turned-on car, can also qualify as a DUI.


How Many People do DUIs Affect?

The punishment varies state by state, but 49/50 states adhere to the government DUI laws, and driving with a BAC level of .08 is considered drunk driving.  The outlier and strictest BAC limit is in Utah at .05, which may have been a factor in Utah troopers doubling their arrest record the year they enacted the new limit.

In the United States, DUIs are the most common criminal offense after drug possession. According to the CDC, anywhere from 111 and 161 million people drive under the influence in the U.S. every year. However, only about 1 million of these drivers encounter law enforcement. 


What’s the Emotional Impact of a DUI?

DUIs, as common as they are, can cause severe emotional impact to both the driver and their family. Here are the most common emotional penalties of driving under the influence.


Loss of Trust: DUIs are often the result of poor planning and decision making, which is one reason receiving a DUI can ruin a person’s reputation. This can also result in shattered relationships with friends and family.


Loss of Self-Confidence: A DUI can be a blow to the self-image. Especially for a person that prides themselves on being an otherwise responsible adult. It’s important to remember that this can happen to anyone, and it’s not always a sign of alcoholism, but it is a sign of an underlying issue.


Extreme Stress: Severe stress weakens the immune system, disrupts sleep, reduces mental performance, and can result in  depression. 


What’s the Financial Impact of a DUI?

DUIs can be costly both for the driver and for the state. Every year billions of government dollars go towards enforcing DUIs, repairing damages caused, also treatment and counseling for those affected. 

Here are the most common financial penalties for driving under the influence.


  • Fines: The highest upfront cost to impaired driving fines. The most expensive DUI can set a person back 6,250 dollars. The cheapest possible fine is 150.00, with the average cost being approx. 1,500. Fines that go unpaid for too long are assessed additional fees and will be reported to the credit bureaus. This isn’t even including your DUI attorney’s fees


  • Missed Work: Drunk driving can result in suspended driver’s licenses, mandatory community services, impounded vehicles, time in state prison, and more. All of this can make it  difficult or impossible to make it work . Losing your driving privileges can be devastating, depending on where you live. Combining reduced paychecks with expensive fines can put a dent in anyone’s wallet.


  • Fewer Job Opportunities: Missing work is one thing; being unable to find steady employment is something else entirely. Having a police record can be a red flag to many employers, including your current employer, when it comes time for promotions.


  • Increased Insurance Rates: Higher insurance rates add up quickly and can total a couple extra thousand per year and stay on your insurance for an average of 10 years – that’s a decade of higher insurance premiums from one conviction.

How do you Recover from a DUI?

If you’ve received a DUI, you may wonder – “Is this going to ruin my life?” The good news is no. One offense is just a hurdle; in fact, because of how common they are, there are many paths to recovery.


  • Pay your dues: The first step to overcoming a DUI conviction getting a DUI lawyer and paying all court-assessed fines and completing community service. Not only will this prevent further damage to your credit, but it will also save your bank account from unruly late fees. Plus, financial debts are a great source of stress. Being able to put DUI fees behind you is a step in the right direction. In some circumstances, on-time payments may allow you only to have to pay a portion of the balance due. 


  • Reflect on the DUI: Evaluate the circumstances of the DUI. Consider why you were drinking, where you were driving to, and what caused you to decide. Often, your environment plays a factor in alcohol and drug abuse. High levels of stress-related due to work or home life can lead to poor decision making – as can unhealthy relationships. Understanding your emotional and substance use triggers can help prevent further incidents involving drugs and alcohol.


  • Reduce alcohol consumption: Not everyone that receives a DUI has a substance dependency. However, taking time away from substances following a DUI can help you maintain a clear mind. Plus, DUIs often involve drug testing to help determine the severity of sentencing.


  • Be receptive to treatment: Most DUIs come with court-mandated therapy. However, being open to therapy is an important factor. Driving drunk is a sign of underlying issues; therapy is a way to overcome those issues. Counselors can help provide healthy coping mechanisms and uncover the root of any mood disorders.


Even without  substance use issues  or mental illness, a therapist can help you process the emotions associated with a DUI.


The Take-Away

Remember to stay safe and drive sober. The penalties for driving under the influence continue to affect millions of people per year, but there is a path to recovery. Pacific Sands Recovery Center can provide you with alcohol detox and a treatment program to help you break free of drug and alcohol addiction. Don’t let substance abuse define who you are; let us help you grow. 

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