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The holiday DUI

Des Toups

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CarInsurance.com

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It's beginning to look a lot like DUI season. Your local law enforcement officers are certainly feeling the holiday spirit. Do a quick search for something like “holiday DUI crackdown” and you’ll probably turn up a precise list of roadblocks in your neighborhood right up through Jan. 1.

And if you managed to get snagged, an ever-harsher array of penalties awaits.

Seventeen states now require that all motorists convicted of impaired driving – including first-timers -- install an ignition interlock device, and on Dec. 11 the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that all states follow their example.

An ignition interlock means that even a trace of alcohol will keep you from driving. It also means that a DUI conviction becomes even more expensive.

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You can expect your car insurance rates to double, at minimum, for however long your state keeps the conviction on your record. You can expect fines and fees to total several thousand dollars. And now – in states with an interlock requirement, at least—you can add the cost of installing and renting an ignition interlock. That’ll be anywhere from $700 to $1,300 a year.

All of that assumes that you didn’t hit anything, or hurt anyone, or have a child in the car, or blow well over the .08 percent limit, because then you’d really be in trouble. “Super drunk” laws can add jail time, a felony record and license suspensions so long you’ll have forgotten how to drive by the time you’re allowed back behind the wheel. (See “Calculate your limit and avoid DUI disaster.”)

Washington and Colorado drivers, pot counts, too.

Perhaps you need more convincing.  Picture your perp walk in a Teletubby outfit.

 Or consider that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration says about a third of all traffic fatalities are alcohol-related. Among the 360 fatal accidents a year caused by drivers who enter highways going the wrong way, though, more than 60 percent are caused by drunks, the NTSB says.

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