Those who have been arrested for a drunk driving offense frequently plead guilty because they either believe that there is no way they can win their case on the merits or they misunderstand the nature of the direct and collateral consequences of embracing this approach.
It is a common misconception among Iowa residents that it is cheaper to plead guilty to drunk driving charges than it would be to defend against them. People look at the fines imposed by the courts and convince themselves that the cost is less than what they would pay for a lawyer. However, they fail to consider three other major expenses directly linked to a drunk driving conviction.
1. Increase insurance expenses
Everyone on the road has to carry insurance, and what they pay depends on their driving record. Insurance companies assess someone’s recent driving history to determine how much they pay. Given that drunk drivers are responsible for some of the worst collisions that occur, impaired driving infractions drastically increase insurance prices.
People can expect to pay more than 50% higher insurance premiums for the same coverage after a drunk driving conviction. The average policy in Iowa costs $1,106 without any major driving issues. After an impaired driving offense, the average cost of coverage increases to $1,727.
2. License penalties
It is common for the judge to suspend someone’s driver’s license after an arrest for impairment at the wheel. Losing a license is quite expensive, even if it is only a temporary situation.
People become dependent on their spouses to drive them places, or they need to use rideshare services and pay for every trip. If people end up depending on carpools or public transportation, they may find themselves filling up late to work frequently. Finally, if someone has to install an ignition interlock device when regaining their driving privileges, they will have to pay hundreds of dollars for that chemical breath testing system in their vehicle.
3. Career consequences
There are plenty of employers that will terminate workers who run afoul of the law while working for their company. Even if a company doesn’t let someone go, a criminal conviction can diminish the faith that someone’s employer has in them and reduce their likelihood of promotions. Having a criminal record will hold someone back when they apply for new job opportunities or even educational programs.
Those who choose to fight against impaired driving charges with the help of a legal professional can potentially protect their licenses and their driving privileges. A successful defense can also eliminate the possibility of a criminal record that could hold someone back for many years. Understanding the true impact of an impaired driving conviction could help those who have been recently arrested in Iowa make informed decisions about what steps to take next.