The anatomy of a DUI: What it can cost you

By: Conroy Delouche Email
By: Conroy Delouche Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - One person's decision to drive drunk can affect more than 3,000 lives.

So, what is the fallout and what does that DUI conviction really cost you?

Getting caught driving while drunk or high can cost you thousands in fines, fees and classes. But if someone is hurt or dies as a result, it can mean so much more than that.

Julie Strike's life was changed forever after a drunk driver ran her over six years ago.

Ever since, she has worked with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and goes to schools across the region.

"It's a senseless, pointless crime. You can always find a safe way home," said Strike.

DUI attorney Steve Oberman says when clients come to him, they've hit rock bottom.

"My advice to everyone is don't take that chance. Don't drive and drink, don't take medication that affects your central nervous system or another way to drive," said Oberman.

So, what is the real cost of a DUI?

We asked Oberman to break it down.

When an officer pulls you over and you appear drunk, your vehicle gets towed, which costs about $100, It will be impounded for at least $10 a day until you can pick it up. The court cost will be around $1,000. The blood or breath test is $250.

This all happens right away. Then, the costs of a conviction.

Life and medical insurance will most likely rise. But in some cases, it's not just the dollars that add up, a convicted driver can lose their job and their freedom.

For victims of a crash, it can mean everything.

Kim Ledford's only son, Dustin, was killed by a drunk driver last year.

"We don't have anyone to carry on our family legacy. I'll never be a grandmother to Dustin's children," said Ledford.

She sat in court as the driver was convicted of vehicular homicide, and sent to prison.

"I told her that I forgave her as a person, I'll never forgive the alcohol, and I'll never forgive the act," said Ledford.

"It's a lose-lose situation, no one wins in drunk driving crashes," said Strike.

Strike says more than 3,000 lives are affected by one person's decision to drive drunk. It's a message she tries to send before kids even get their driver's licenses.

Ledford is also pushing Nashville to ratify Dustin's Law. This would add stiffer penalties if someone tests positive for drugs in a crash.

None of this will bring her son back. But she hopes no other mother has to go through what she has, an accident that destroys every life involved.

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