During the holiday season, we hear warnings about the risks of injury and death that could result from driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
What we don't hear are the staggering financial costs associated with this type of driving offence. For the purpose of this column, I'll focus on first time impaired driving convictions, where a person's blood alcohol level is above 0.08.
For a failing a breathalyzer or failing to take a test, a person's driver's license is automatically suspended for 90 days (which is separate from any charge he/she faces in court), and their vehicle is impounded for seven days.
All drivers who receive a driver license suspension are required to pay a $150 administrative penalty prior to reinstatement. If a conviction is merited, the driver must enroll in an alcohol education and treatment program, at a cost of $578.
Then there are the legal costs. The Ontario Ministry of Transportation estimates that legal costs for a first time drinking and driving conviction range from $2,000 to $10,000.
If a DUI charge results in a first time conviction, the courts will impose a fine of $1,000 under the Highway Traffic Act and the offender's driver's license will be suspended for one year.
Aside from the fines and legal costs, there are increased insurance costs to contend with. Expect to pay an additional $4,500 per year for three years ($13,000) for auto insurance, and increased premiums on all of your of you recreational vehicles and life insurance.
A drinking and driving conviction also carries with it a requirement to have an ignition interlock (breathalyzer) installed in your car for one year, at a cost of $1,300. What kind of message does it send to friends and family members when they see that you must blow into a breathalyzer every time you drive?
Having a DUI conviction can also pose restrictions on travelling to other countries. According to the U.S. Customers and Border Protection website, "multiple DUI convictions or a DUI conviction in combination with other misdemeanor offences can make a person inadmissible...."
According to the MTO (mts.gov.on.ca), the total costs for a convicted drinking driver are a minimum $18,128, which doesn't include increased insurance premiums for recreational vehicles and life insurance; and extraneous costs, which could include property damage, loss of employment income and uninsured medical costs.
On top of all the financial costs, a DUI conviction is a source of deep personal shame, not to mention the emotional toll of not having your license for a year and the impact on your job and career.
The thing about a DUI conviction is that it's entirely preventable. I don't get it: people will spends hundreds on a nice dinner but they'll won't spend an extra $30 - $50 to arrange alternate transportation if they've had a few drinks.
There are several excellent designated driver services available in the GTA - a quick Google search will reveal services available in your area.
There are many forces for good at work that make our roads and highways safer. I'm thinking of the police officers who operate the RIDE programs and the countless responsible drivers who arrange alternate transportation for themselves, thus setting a good example for others.
When you get pulled over on a RIDE check, thank the police for doing their job and for helping to keep our roads safer. They provide a great service for us all.
On behalf of the Trillium Automobile Dealers Association, enjoy the holiday season and please use your good judgement when driving.
Once again, the TADA is proud to support Prostate Cancer Canada. This year, our Association has donated a specially-modified 2015 Ford Mustang GT for the Rock the Road Raffle. For more information, visit www.prostatecancer.ca or www.tada.