It sure would be a lot more fun to spend around $20,000 on a car than it would be to spend that same amount on fines and legal costs after driving drunk in one.  That can be the real cost of a DUI in Idaho, and it serves as a warning heading into a weekend full of holiday parties.

The $20,000 figure is a steep amount to pay toward a huge mistake, and it could be even more than that.  The group Arrive Alive estimated the pocket expense drivers face after a drunk driving conviction is more like $23,000 including court costs and fines, insurance costs, lawyer fees, and installing an ignition interlock system on your vehicle after the court orders it.

This doesn't count the peripheral costs that might come if you lose your license and have to miss some work.  And it doesn't count the emotional costs or the frustrations that come along with having court dates in the middle of the workday and having to rearrange your schedule to accommodate a new reality that could have been avoided with a designated driver.

Every state is a little bit different with the fines and fees, but one lawyer says Idahoans can expect to spend up to $2000 on the initial fines and court costs and the price shoots up from there.  Idaho requires an alcohol evaluation and a victim's panel as part of the sentence.  If your license is suspended, there is a cost to reinstate it.  And insurance rates will go up.  And you can expect to pay a lawyer $2500 to $5000 or more.  Idaho State Police say costs continue to increase for second and third-time offenders.  If the case would go to trial, that can cost $5000 to $25,000.

Another Boise lawyer points out it's possible to get a DUI conviction for being impaired by prescription pills too.  That's prosecuted on a case-by-case basis and can have just as many fines and fees as an alcohol or heroin-related arrest.

This will be a big weekend for holiday office parties and private parties too, and if the worst thing that happens is an embarrassing moment that ends up on Youtube, that's a win.  A drunk driving arrest would ruin the rest of the weekend, and it might mess up your finances for a year or more.  And if someone gets hurt, well that's a cost on a whole other level.

Taking a risk is good in some cases, but not this one. That Uber fare is feeling like a pretty good deal right now.  And without a drunk driving conviction, don't you suddenly feel richer?

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