Drink, drive and pay
BY PHIL MULKINS and SHANNON MUCHMORE World Staff Writers
Thursday, December 31, 2009
12/31/09 at 4:01 AM
The cost of drinking then driving has gone up.
In years past, the average price put on a "driving under the influence" arrest was $6,000. But a figure quoted in the "2009 Oklahoma Driver's Manual" is $19,005.50 — enough to buy a new car.
The figures are for an "uncomplicated DUI" — an arrest where there is no attempt to elude police, no resisting arrest and no other traffic violation.
Of course, the Oklahoma Highway Patrol notes that a DUI "could cost you thousands — or worse — your life," according to the manual, which is put out by the Oklahoma Department of Public Safety.
The estimated costs of a DUI arrest in Oklahoma could include fines, court costs, attorney fees and insurance increases. With various evaluations, an Ignition Interlock system and the cost of getting a driver's license back, the cost could soar to $9,880.50.
Although Tulsa County doesn't currently charge a jail reimbursement fee, a more than $9,000 charge could be ordered by an Oklahoma judge in a conviction sentencing elsewhere, according to a DPS official and the manual, tulsaworld.com/OKdrivermanual. That fee brings the total to $19,005.50.
Then there are the additional costs — of time and money.
When Tulsa officers take drivers to jail, Storey Wrecker Service, which is under contract with the city to handle all driver-arrest tows, will take the cars to its "impound lot" at 10 N. Elwood Ave.
Storey charges for hookup, mileage and storage, and the typical fee after a DUI is $150 to $200, said Storey spokesman Terry McBeath.
DUI offenders must do an assessment, meet with a counselor and take classes about laws, consequences and addiction, said Diana Barbee, a certified alcohol and drug counselor with the Oklahoma Safety Center in Tulsa.
"It's usually going to take them a better part of a year to get even a first offense dealt with," she said.
People with more than one DUI arrest must take more classes and may be required to go to counseling groups, Barbee said.
Zach Smith, a Tulsa attorney who specializes in DUI cases, said the cost of an arrest depends on the circumstances, but is almost always financially straining.
An offender may also have to work — or pay for — up to 56 community hours, which cost $500 each if a person chooses not to serve.
The intangible costs of a DUI arrest can be even more wrenching, Smith said.
"The hidden costs of a DUI are the real impact," he said.
His clients are often nervous-wrecks after their arrest, he said. Some can lose a job or professional license; others lose relationships.
"It can certainly cost you your job, your career and your family," he said.
Smith gets clients throughout the year, he said, but he sees a slight uptick during the holidays, particularly when law enforcement is increased and officers are checking specifically for DUI drivers.
The high cost of drinking and driving
Court costs $710.50
Victim compensation assessment $300
Jail reimbursement fee $9,125*
Substance abuse evaluation $175
DUI School $175
Victim Impact Panel $50
Attorney fees $5,000
Probation fees $480
Ignition Interlock $600
Driver’s license reinstatement $300
Insurance increase $590
* A judge-ordered charge not currently imposed in
Source: state driver’s manual
Oklahoma’s DUI Threshold
Avoid a DUI
Storey Wrecker will take “you and
your car home, for free, if you’ve had
too much to drink during the holidays,”
provided you can stand up without
assistance, said spokesman Terry
Call Storey at 585-5571.
AAA’s Tipsy Tow service is available
around the clock through Friday. Drivers
can get a free one-time tow home.
Call AAA at (800) 222-4357.
Know your limit
A calculator on the
University of Oklahoma
Police Department’s Web
site approximates an
individual’s blood alcohol
content based on the number
of drinks, type of drink,
body weight and number of
For example, a 200-pound person would have
0.04 blood-alcohol content
after drinking four 12-ounce
beers in two hours, a 0.07
drinking six beers in two
hours and a 0.11 drinking
seven in two hours.
To try the blood alcohol
content calculator, go to
Phil Mulkins 581-8339, Shannon Muchmore 581-8378
Tulsa Police officer Justin Farley
(left) conducts a field sobriety test
during a traffic stop.
SHERRY BROWN/Tulsa World file