A first offence for impaired driving can cost up to $7,000, CAA-Quebec says

QUEBEC CITY, Dec. 14, 2012 /CNW Telbec/ - With the Holidays just around the corner, CAA-Quebec wants to remind the public of the financial consequences of impaired driving. While the accidents that result under such circumstances can be truly tragic, the financial impact of a first offence for driving while under the influence is also something to think seriously about. CAA-Quebec has estimated that the various expenses faced by someone accused of a first offence can amount to approximately $7,000.

Multiple expenses…
Over the years, the fines, costs and penalties imposed before and after a guilty verdict have risen dramatically. For example, since 2008, the term of the immediate suspension of the offender's driver's licence has increased from 30 to 90 days, and the minimum fine has risen from $600 to $1,000. Additionally, convicted drivers must take part in a session, costing $300, to have their alcohol-related behaviours evaluated.

Aside from these fixed costs, a conviction for impaired driving has a considerable impact on one's automobile insurance premium, which may increase by nearly 400% the first year alone: that translates to an average extra expense of $3,000 for a yearly premium! "People may not realize just how serious the financial consequences of an arrest for impaired driving can be for an individual," emphasizes Sophie Gagnon, CAA-Quebec's Assistant Vice President, Public and Government Relations. "It's more than just paying the fine: there are also the many disadvantages that a conviction entails, from a one-year ban on driving, to a criminal record, to inconveniences if the person wishes to travel outside the country." It's also important to point out that, under the Criminal Code, for at least the first three months, the prohibition on driving applies to all motor vehicles, not just road vehicles (this includes snowmobiles, watercraft and aircraft).

… and a variety of indirect costs
These inconveniences are compounded by expenses for storing one's vehicle, the cost of having a new driver's licence issued, legal fees, and a number of formalities to deal with. For example, if the offender wants to travel to the United States, he or she will need to have the court judgment professionally translated—which costs money. CAA-Quebec has posted a comprehensive table of costs on its website, caaquebec.com, showing the full extent of the potential financial consequences.

Sobering statistics
Last year, 1,797 people were arrested on charges of impaired driving within the City of Montreal alone. In 2010, according to an estimate by the Société de l'assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), the total number of arrests for drinking and driving in the province was approximately 14,000. And the SAAQ's annual road accident statistics report for 2010 reveals that, of the 180 drivers killed on our roads who were subsequently tested, 62—or 34%—were found to have a blood alcohol level over the legal limit.

Solutions exist!
This Holiday season, CAA-Quebec reminds motorists who have had a few drinks how important it is to choose a drive-home service such as Operation Red Nose, take a taxi, or opt for any other reasonable solution. "All things considered, setting aside a small part of your budget for an evening out to make sure you get back home safely is an excellent investment, and proof of good judgment," Ms. Gagnon notes. Between now and December 31, there's even a no-cost solution: Operation Red Nose. And the rest of the year, or when Red Nose services aren't available, CAA-Quebec offers members one free ride home per year if they are unable to take the wheel.

CAA-Quebec, a not-for-profit organization founded in 1904, provides automotive, travel, residential and financial services and privileges to its 1.1 million members.


For further information:

Cédric Essiminy 
Public Relations Officer 
514 861-7111, ext. 3210 
Cell.: 514 717-4040 

Philippe St-Pierre
Communications Advisor
418 624-2424, ext. 2418
Cell. : 418 580-1633

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