The price of crime

(Read the April 2008 and May 2009 updates, information about getting a hardship license, and how I finally got my license back)

Today, I pled guilty for my second OUI. So my license is suspended for two years (in addition to the 3 1/2 months it took to get to this point), I get two years probation, I have to go to a 14 day alcoholics residential program, I have to go for an alcohol evaluation with aftercare, and I am subject to random drug and alcohol testing. I can’t leave the country while I’m on probation, and I have to give 72 hours notice to my probation officer before I can leave the state.

These are for the most part the minimum penalties that by statue must be assessed upon conviction. Possible penalties include jail time. Removing the judge’s ability to use his discretion and adjust the penalties based on circumstances is supposed to reduce the number of people who commit the offense. Hopefully, this will work for you. I was a slow learner.

car1.jpgThen there’s the monetary cost. There’s no votes in standing up for the rights of criminals, so some of the fees are arbitrarily assessed. The way it’s structured, you have to pay for the privilege of being a miscreant. A simple fine would be easier to manage for the state and a more appropriate way to penalize offenders.

Victim/Witness fee – $50 (there were none)
OUI fee – $250 (if I don’t pay it, do I get to skip the conviction?)
OUI victim fee – $50 (there were none)
Head injury fee – $250 (there were none)
Probation fee – $1560 ($65/month x 24 months)
Random drug and alcohol testing fee – ?
Drug/Alcohol evaluation and aftercare – ?
14 day alcoholic residential program – $953.26
License reinstatement fee – $700
Increase in car insurance – ?
Lawyer – $400 (price break from long-time friend)
Lawyer to contest drug testing  and duplicate evaluation and aftercare requirements – ? (the judge did not specify this when sentencing, and anyhow I still have some rights, don’t I?)
New car – ? (cost of new car less $7944 payment for total loss claim on car)

After a year, I can go in to file a request for a hardship license, which would involve more fees. If the request was granted, I would have to get an ignition breathalyser interlock system installed. I found a system online that costs $999 with a $150 installation fee. I’d have to go in monthly and pay to have it checked to ensure I hadn’t tampered with it.

Costs would have been much higher if I contested the case, since there would have been additional fees for my lawyer and for any expert witnesses. Poor people are trapped either way. They can’t afford to contest their case, but they can’t afford the cost of being convicted either.

Rear of carThankfully no one was hurt. That would have added to the cost, but if someone had been hurt, the monetary cost would have been the least of my worries. And thankfully there’s a bus that runs from the station near my home right to where I work.

If you drink and drive and you get caught, if you want to have any chance in court do not admit you have been drinking, do not agree to perform any field sobriety tests, and do not agree to take a breathalyser. Then go find a good lawyer. If you do this, your chance of wiggling out somehow does go from zero to something a little better than zero, but if you lose, the penalty will increase significantly. It’s a judgment call. One that you’ll have to make while your judgment is impaired.

Kids, hopefully you can learn something from this, something that I didn’t learn myself the first time around. Don’t drink and drive!

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