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Celebrating a night out? Catch a ride instead of DWI

A DWI conviction could end up costing as much as $8,000, but a new service in the Triangle offers a comparatively cheaper alternative to drinking and driving.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — Drive drunk, and it could cost you – there's the potential loss of life, freedom and money.

In fact, it could cost you, financially, anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000, says local attorney Karl Knudsen, who's represented more than 1,500 people facing DWI charges.

"It's a major trauma to be charged with a DWI," Knudsen said. "But it's very expensive, and it's one of those situations where you're a lot better off to prevent it in the first place than to try to deal with a very serious problem later on."

As the New Year approaches, there's now a safer and comparatively cheaper option in the Triangle for getting you and your car home after a night out, especially on a night like New Year's Eve.

For a $10 service fee and a rate of $1 per mile – about a third less than a taxi – Zevo Express provides direct door-to-door shuttle service to bars and restaurants in the Triangle seven days a week.

Founder Darian Smith says he started the service nearly three months ago after a friend was involved in a drunken-driving wreck and suffered injuries that now keep him from walking.

Smith says he doesn't want to see what happened to his friend happen to anyone else.

"We try to get everyone home safe," said Kevin Brienzi, who co-owns Harrison's Bar & Grill in Cary, and helps promotes Zevo Express. "We're definitely pushing it. I have seen people use it. I, myself, have used it."

It works like this: About 20 minutes before you want to leave for home, call the service, 18-NO-DWI-5042, and a professional designated driver will arrive at your location and, in your own vehicle, drive you home.

Although not required, reservations are strongly encouraged.

And even though it might sound a little expensive, Knudsen says it's far less than the estimated $8,000 associated with getting a DWI.

For example, a first-time offender, Knudsen says, lose your license, and you'll likely have to pay a $100 fee to get limited driving privileges.

Another $200 is necessary to get your license back and for substance abuse assessments. Classes cost up to an additional $500.

"And that's before you get to trial," Knudsen aid.

If convicted, fines, court costs, community service fees and other costs are typically at least $500.

Then, depending on the severity of the offense, an alcohol meter installed in your vehicle – can mean an additional $1,000.

"Then, if you have any sense at all, you want to get a good lawyer, and good lawyers are not cheap," Knudsen said. "You could easily spend $2,000 to $3,000 on attorney fees."

And if you're convicted, plan on your auto insurance rates jumping up about 400 percent. For most people, he says, that means increased costs from $3,000 to $5,000.

"It's a whole lot cheaper to call a cab, all a friend, walk – do anything besides get behind a wheel of a car when you've been drinking," he said.


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