Drunk driving costs thousands of culprits, the innocent even more | News, Sports, Jobs


News photo by Julie Riddle An alcohol control tie was shown to Alpena last month.

NAFTA – A drive home drunk could cost a driver in northeast Michigan $ 10,000 or more, according to a News analysis.

For the 168 convictions in the Alpena region for driving while intoxicated in 2020, the consequences go far beyond the payment of a simple fine, even for the first offenders, according to the police, the magistrates, the agents. insurance, lawyers, towing companies and others.

Convicted drunk drivers pay for their illegal action on time, inconvenience, embarrassment and thousands of dollars, all for a completely preventable criminal police call.

The cost is even higher for the 40 people injured each year in drunk driving or drug driving crashes in northeast Michigan – and for the families of the 20 people killed by of impaired drivers in the region since 2016.

“Think before you do these things,” pleaded Carolyn Holbrook, a resident of Alpena, who lost her son in a drinking and driving accident in 1999. “There are a lot of consequences.”

News photo by Julie Riddle A Soberlink blood alcohol monitoring device was presented to Alpena last month.


Alpena County police arrest about 132 people each year for drunk or drugged driving.

Once arrested, intoxicated drivers sit in a “drunken tank” cell until the alcohol leaves their system. For someone just above the legal body alcohol limit of 0.08%, such a stay could take five hours – twice as long for the over 50% of those arrested in Alpena County. in 2020 with a blood alcohol level greater than double the legal limit.

Alpena County Jail officials estimate a reservation fee of $ 12, plus a fee of up to 10% of any bond posted. Some first-time drunk drivers get out of jail without bail, but many repeat offenders have to arrange to pay a surety hundreds of dollars to secure their release.

Police confiscate any cash from the driver at the time of the arrest. The money comes back in the form of a check that defendants may have to wait for several days after being released from prison.

News photo by Julie Riddle Near the Thunder Bay River in Alpena last month, Carolyn Holbrook posts a photo of her son, Eric, who was killed in a drinking and driving accident in 1999.

If the police impound the driver’s vehicle, the driver owes about $ 160 for towing, plus $ 40 per day for storage. For a second or third offense, the police could seize the vehicle and sell it at auction.

Drivers who do not qualify for duty counsel could pay several thousand dollars in attorney bills, much more for a more serious offense involving multiple offenses or a charge of manslaughter.


Convicted drunk drivers must pay court fees, fines and costs of $ 375, plus $ 350 for a court-ordered “impact weekend”, forcing the convict to spend a full weekend to intensive training sessions on crime.

As part of probation, the court can order drivers to take time off work to attend sessions, counseling, or community service with Alcoholics Anonymous. For many, this means lost wages, even as the costs of the offense continue to mount.

A Soberlink portable blood alcohol monitor, if court-ordered as part of probation, tests a driver’s breath for alcohol five or more times a day, taking a picture of the user while blowing a small tube for five seconds. The court could also order the driver to wear an alcohol control tie around an ankle. A sensor on the device detects alcohol exuded through the skin.

Drivers convicted of wearing a Soberlink while on probation pay $ 7 per day, which can add up to over $ 2,500 per year. A tether costs $ 11 per day, for a total of over $ 4,000 for a one-year probationary period.

Drug testing, also a common component of drunk driving probation, requires drivers to show up three times a month to urinate into a cup at a cost of $ 70 per month, sometimes up to one. year.

Some drunk drivers, especially repeat offenders, receive jail time as part of their sentence – at $ 25 a day owed in jail. These people could miss their paychecks or even lose their jobs because of incarceration.

All legal penalties are increasing for second and third time offenders. A third drinking and driving offense, a felony, could result in up to five years in prison – or up to 15 years for causing death.


By order of the Secretary of State, convicted drunk drivers lose their license for at least six months, even for a first conviction, and pay $ 125 to get it back. The license suspension automatically lasts one year for drivers with a BAC greater than double the legal limit.

Anyone caught driving with a suspended license could face another fine of up to $ 500, up to 93 days in jail, or both.

Drunk drivers under the age of 21 could face higher fines and more hours of community service.

Insurance rates skyrocket once courts add a drinking and driving conviction to a driver’s record, increasing by hundreds of dollars per vehicle over a six-month period. Some insurers automatically refuse to cover a driver convicted of impaired driving.

Drunk driving convictions during background checks can cost a driver a potential job, apartment, or college scholarship.

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In addition to the other costs and inconvenience, a drinking and driving conviction is often synonymous with embarrassment, shame and damaged relationships – injuries that can last for years.

Some repercussions last even longer.

In 1999, Carolyn Holbrook’s 27-year-old son choked under a three-barrel car and landed on him.

The driver of the car – in which Eric, her son, had been a passenger – had been drinking heavily before the crash, but the two had only planned to drive three miles on a gravel road near Lansing.

Holbrook remembers a phone call from a distraught family member telling him about the accident. She remembers her husband helping her up after a hospital confirmed that her son had died.

She remembers deciding whether to see her body in the morgue when she only wanted to hold it.

“I never saw him get married,” Holbrook said. “I never saw him have children. I never got to dance with him.

Over 20 years later, she is still in pain, still keeps Eric’s picture handy, and still pleads with people not to drive drunk.

Of course, she tells them, they may have to pay fines and go to jail.

The real cost of drunk driving, however, falls on its victims and their loved ones.

“When you leave the bar, there is always someone to accompany you,” said Holbrook. “There is a taxi. These are the two feet you have. You are selfish if you think you are okay and get behind the wheel and start driving.

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