What is the cost of a DUI?

  • Published
  • By Maj. Christopher M. Hague
  • 22nd Maintenance Operations Squadron commander
Most Airmen are familiar with the legal ramifications of driving under the influence, but have they ever wondered what the true cost of a DUI is?

Though the cost is hard to nail down exactly because every state has different laws and every situation is different, here is one general example.

A staff sergeant with eight years time-in-service gets a DUI. As a result he is reduced in rank to senior airman. This is a pay cut of $468 a month.

At the same time, this Airman's auto insurance will increase by about $200 a month. By the end of the year, if no additional fees have been added, the Airman has lost $8,016 a year. If the Airman chooses to stay in, it will take at least three years to make the rank, totaling the cost $24,048. These slow promotions continue throughout the Airman's. If the Airman stays past his 20 years, the cost shoots up to more than $60,000.

Unfortunately, that's the cheapest part of a DUI. Here's what you can't put a price tag on:
  • The feeling when you see flashing lights in your rear view mirror
  • The stress of reporting to your first sergeant, commander, command chief and wing commander
  • The trip to alterations to have stripes removed
  • What you are going to tell your wife, husband, mother or father
  • The cost to your squadron because you can't deploy
  • Walking for one year on base, even if you get to keep a civilian license
  • Finally, and the greatest cost of all, killing or injuring yourself or others
Compare the costs above to these alternatives:
  • Having a designated driver-Free
  • Calling Airman Against Drunk Driving-Free
  • Calling Safe Riders-Free
  • Calling a friend-Free
  • Calling your supervisor, commander or first sergeant-Free
  • Worst case, calling a taxi and paying for a ride home - on average $20 to $30
There may not be an exact formula for figuring the total cost of a DUI, but there is a formula to avoiding one. Have a plan, be responsible and don't get behind the wheel of a car if you've been drinking. We have too many options for a safe ride home to make excuses.