It sure would be a lot more fun to spend around $20,000 on a car than it would be to spend that same amount on fines and legal costs after driving drunk in one.  That can be the real cost of a DWI in Texas, and it serves as a warning heading into a weekend full of holiday parties.

The $20,000 figure is a steep amount to pay toward a huge mistake, and it could be even more than that.  The group Arrive Alive estimated the pocket expense drivers face after a drunk driving conviction is more like $23,000 including court costs and fines, insurance costs, lawyer fees, and installing an ignition interlock system on your vehicle after the court orders it.

This doesn't count the peripheral costs that might come if you lose your license and have to miss some work.  And it doesn't count the emotional costs or the frustrations that come along with having court dates in the middle of the workday and having to rearrange your schedule to accommodate a new reality that could have been avoided with a designated driver.

Every state is a little bit different with the fines and fees, but one Texas lawyer says Texans can expect to spend at least $17,000 on a drunk driving conviction.  Fines can be up to $2000, and Texas requires substance abuse classes as part of the sentence. After your license is suspended, there is a cost to reinstate it.  And insurance rates will go up.

Another Texas law firm points out the initial $2000 fine and adds that if a child is in the car at the time, the fine goes up to $10,000 and that puts the total cost over $25,000.  Costs continue to increase for second and third-time offenders.

This will be a big weekend for holiday office parties and private parties too, and if the worst thing that happens is an embarrassing moment that ends up on Youtube, that's a win.  A drunk driving arrest would ruin the rest of the weekend, and it might mess up your finances for a year or more.  And if someone gets hurt, well that's a cost on a whole other level.

Taking a risk is good in some cases, but not this one. Just wanted you to have the heads up so you can keep making smart choices.  Without that drunk driving conviction, don't you suddenly feel richer?

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