Local News

Feeling festive? Don't drink and drive

Posted December 21, 2016

— Driving under the influence is dangerous and illegal, but one thing people do not always think about is the financial cost of getting a DWI.

In the past year, 4,000 people were charged with DWI in Wake County.

Defense attorney Karl Knudsen said even first-time offenders can pay dearly for a DWI.

"Sometimes the difference between getting a DWI, and not, may be that one drink you had that you ordinarily wouldn't have, but you were feeling festive," he said.

Knudsen said holiday parties often cause a spike in DWIs.

"At this time of year they are specifically looking for people who have been drinking and driving," he said. "You get stopped for a DWI, and the meter starts running...at hundreds or thousands of dollars at a time."

Court costs, community service fees, a substance abuse assessment and the limited driving privilege fee alone add up to about $740.

In addition, everyone convicted must go through a treatment program.

"You could be required to complete an outpatient treatment program, which could cost $500 or more," Knudsen said.

Attorney fees start at about $1,500, and go as high as $5,000. Fines can range up to $4,000, and insurance rates are likely to go up 340 percent. That brings the total cost of a DWI to anywhere between $2,500 to $10,000, without the insurance or treatment costs.

"It is not unusual for a first offense DWI ending up costing someone $10,000,” Knudsen said

Knudsen said with the ride-sharing services available today, no one should ever drink and drive.

"Just pick up your smart phone, punch in a couple of buttons, and in 10 minutes a nice person will be there to pick you up and take you home, and that is a whole lot cheaper," he said.

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