Driving drunk this weekend may cost you more than $15,000

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Law enforcement officials will be out in force this St. Patrick's weekend, looking for drunk drivers whose over-indulgence could cost them a whopping $15,649 -- not including additional criminal charges, injury or death.

According to a new estimate from the Automobile Club of Southern California (AAA), a first offense Driving Under the Influence (DUI) citation costs an average of more than $15,000. Elaine Beno, a spokesperson for AAA, said the number includes legal fees, fines, booking and other costs.

Here's the complete breakdown:

Fine                                    $390
Penalties                            $1,245
Vehicle Tow/Storage      $ 350
Alcohol Ed Classes          $575
Victim Rest. Fund           $140
DMV License Re-Issue   $125
Booking                             $170
Auto Ins. Increase           $10,154
Attorney/Legal Fees       $2,500

The majority of the total DUI cost comes from a skyrocketing car insurance bill. Beno says this part of the estimate was estimated based on what the premium increase would be for a 25-year-old male over a 10 year period.

These costs don't include lost work wages, medical costs or additional court-required fees.

"We aren't even talking about the social consequences such as the impact on your family, your job and even your own self-respect," said Beno.

And despite these costs, Beno said that every year there are still enough DUI offenders in California to fill the L.A. Memorial Coliseum -- twice.

If the hefty DUI fines aren't enough to discourage you from driving drunk, the California Highway Patrol, L.A. Sherriff's Department and L.A. Police Department have reassured the public that they will be setting up roving DUI checkpoints this weekend to discourage partiers from driving drunk, and catch those who do.

Michael Henderson, corporal at Glendora Police Department, said there will be increased enforcement throughout the entire L.A. County.

"It's in response to the high number of fatalities that occurred nationwide last year. And for the last several years, St. Patrick's Day has really been one of the days that has been tainted with several deaths due to intoxicated drivers," said Henderson.

Between 2006 and 2010, more than 700 people across the country were killed by drunk drivers  on St. Patrick's Day weekend. To avoid becoming one of these statistics, law enforcement suggests leaving your car keys at home if you’re planning on drinking, and getting a ride home with a sober friend or taxi instead. Authorities also encourage you to call 9-1-1 if you see someone driving who looks intoxicated.

And if you're not sure what to do this Sunday without the green beer and whiskey, KPCC put together a list of non-alcoholic activities that include Irish dancing at an Orange County festival, and a St. Patrick's themed performance at the Upright Citizens Brigade.


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