Consequences of Drinking and Driving During The Pandemic

The fact that drunk driving endangers lives is no longer up for debate. However, apart from drunk drivers risking their lives and countless others, drunk driving can also increase the insurance cost for drivers across the United States.

Recent statistics show that attitude towards alcohol-impaired driving has dramatically changed over the years, thanks to positive organizational movements and campaigns.

However, to date, there are still alarming data about drunk driving—injuries and fatalities are still significant, many individuals still think it’s safe to drive after having a few drinks, and most people don’t even have a clue what the penalties for a first offense extreme DUI are. 

Drunk Driving Statistics

Here are some distressing statistics on drunk driving in a typical year:

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 people in the United States die in motor crashes that involve alcohol-impaired drivers
  • Car accidents that are alcohol-related cost the U.S. as much as $44 billion annually
  • Approximately 67% of U.S. men and women are likely to get involved in an alcohol-related crash during their lifetimes
  • According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), one-third of fatal crashes involve drunk drivers

Drunk Driving and the COVID-19 Pandemic

There is no denying the COVID-19 pandemic has some unexpected impact on today’s DUI statistics. But just how drastically is the pandemic affecting the numbers? To put things in perspective, let’s examine some previous and current statistics. 

For instance, the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) reported 377 deaths and 1,171 injuries due to alcohol-related crashes between 2015 and 2017. At the end of March 2019, Missouri police arrested 293 people for drunk driving. 

This 2020, on the same weekend, police arrested only 94 people for drunk driving. If the numbers stay consistent, Missouri is on track to reducing the numbers by as much as seventy percent!

Fortunately, the same trend is emerging across other states. Case in point: only four people were arrested for driving under the influence in Nebraska on St. Patrick’s Day. That’s a 15-year low for the state. 

Dorchester and Berkeley County, on the other hand, made no arrests in March. Charleston County, on the other hand, detained only 13 individuals for DUI charges last March. New Mexico DUI arrests are also down by as much as fifty percent.

Understandably, these dramatic drops are attributed to the “stay at home” orders implemented in most states. Tourism-dense states like Hawaii attribute the decline in DUI arrests to fewer tourists driving on the roads.

Interestingly though, alcohol sales went up. Nielsen’s study indicated that alcohol sales spiked by as much as fifty-five percent and showed no signs of slowing down. This figure also shows that while Americans are buying and drinking more, they are doing it at home.

DUI During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Consequences and What to Expect

When arrested for DUI, what are the possible consequences?

Immediate financial responsibilities

Make no mistake about it; getting a DUI can be costly. Even before you are formally convicted, likely, you’ll already spend thousands of dollars on the following:

  • For the court to release a bond
  • To get your car back
  • Towing charges
  • Down payment for lawyer services

Restrictions on driving privileges

In most states, individuals convicted of most DUI-type offenses will face ramifications on their driving privileges. For instance, in some states, an individual who refuses to take a BAC test will have their driver’s license suspended automatically. The length of time of the suspension can vary from one state to another. However, the typical range is from three to twelve months.

Might need to pay more for car insurance

If you have a DUI offense on your record, you are more likely to pay higher premiums for car insurance. Sadly, there is no way around this. It is also possible for insurance companies to drop you, and you will have to seek out insurance companies that will accept you.

Expect to be placed on probation

Since a DUI offense is a criminal offense, expect that you will be placed on probation for a period of time following your conviction. Keep in mind that probation will cost money, so expect to incur additional costs.

More fines upon conviction

Once convicted, you will be fined by the court. These fines will often eat up your bond, so you might need to pay additional money. It would be wise to arrange that you are put on a payment program as the fines can be extensive.

What happens when you get charged with driving impaired or driving drunk at this time? 

Now more than ever, it would be a great idea to work with a good and seasoned lawyer. While it is likely that you will be facing the same charges, there are strains and limitations placed on the legal system right now due to the pandemic. 

The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the courts may also offer limited hours and services. It is also highly likely that you will encounter delays and changes to the standard business operations and temporary orders to cease in-person conferences and appearances. 

A good lawyer can help ensure you will get the hearings, counsel, and legal measures that are your due. Currently, until the foreseeable future, you might need to make do with meeting your attorney virtually, through videoconferencing or meetings over the phone. 

However, it is possible to arrange in-person meetings if truly called for. Consider it best to check with your lawyer regarding your needs and how to proceed during this time.

The Bottom Line

A DUI or any related offense can be inconvenient, embarrassing, and downright expensive. Not only that, but the records and ramifications associated with it can also last for many years. The only foolproof way to avoid getting a DUI is not to drive while under the influence.

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