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‘Tis the Season: Drinking and Driving

With graduations, weddings, camping and back yard BBQ’s abound, one might say ’tis the season for alcohol consumption. For most of us, the thought of killing someone is all we need to persuade us not to drink and drive, but for some that just isn’t enough. As a result, the insurance companies and special interest groups try to persuade people with ads stating you could lose your license, have your car impounded or end up in jail. They also use graphic images of people being injured and killed in car accidents. Despite their valiant efforts, some people continue to drink and drive. So here is just one more thing to consider before you get behind the wheel that most of the ads don’t talk about.

Would people be persuaded not to drink and drive if they knew what it could cost them financially? Maybe yes, maybe no, but the fact is that drinking and driving can result in significant financial loss even when people are not injured.

When you drink and drive you are in breach of your insurance policy, which means that you do not have insurance coverage if you are in an accident. As a result, you become personally responsible for all resulting damage which can include the cost of repairing or replacing the vehicles involved as well as compensating persons who may have been injured in the accident. If the vehicles involved were expensive and people were injured, you can get ready to lose more than your license and your car. Anyone who has had a vehicle repaired knows that you are often looking at thousands of dollars just for damage to the vehicles (tens of thousands if the vehicles are a total loss) and if people are injured you could be personally responsible for anything from $500 to $5 million or more depending on the nature and extent of the injuries involved.

In summary, in addition to other serious consequences, a minor car accident while drinking and driving could put you on the hook for thousands of dollars and a more serious one could put you on the hook for millions. So next time you think you’re “fine” to drive ask yourself whether you are ready to give up everything you have, including having your wages garnished for the next 10 years and if not, find alternate transportation. The inconvenience and cost it creates for one occasion is a lot less than the inconvenience and cost you could be creating for the rest of your life.

*Important Note: The information contained in this column should not be treated by readers as legal advice and should not be relied on without detailed legal counsel being sought.