How to Make a Million in the DUI Business

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on July 14th, 2005

In past posts, I’ve commented upon the increasing profits made by government and industry from the escalating "war on DUI" (see, for example, "DUI Roadblocks for Fun and Profit" and "DUI Ignition Interlocks: Dangerous but Profitable"). These profits call into question the underlying reasons for the allocation of police resources and the fairness of penalties imposed for this offense. Consider a news story appearing yesterday:

Albuquerque Makes a Million from DUI

Drunk-driving is generating a million a year in profit for the city of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Drunk driving does not pay in Albuquerque, New Mexico — unless you’re the city treasurer. Last year, Albuquerque generated a million dollars in profit from its drunk driving enforcement program, doubling the take from 2003.

New Mexico DWI penalties are stiff. A driver caught for the first time with a .08 blood alcohol level must pay a $500 fine. But that’s just the beginning. The crime also carries a six-month license revocation where the offender can only legally drive a vehicle that has an ignition interlock installed. This device is designed to allow only a sober individual to operate the car.

That’s where the fees kick in. The interlock runs $960 per year and there’s a $45 "interlock fee." That, plus a $100 license fee, a $65 crime lab fee, a $75 community fee, a $200 alcohol screening fee, a $20 corrections fee. All this adds up to $1615 in extra fees combined with the fine for a total of $2115, a number which does not include the cost of increased insurance, treatment, lost wages, towing and storage, court costs and attorney fees.

The city hits the jackpot with anyone foolish enough to become a repeat offender, where the direct fines rise as high as $5000 and the city confiscates and sells the offender’s automobile. Apparently, repeat offenders are not rare. In 2003, Albuquerque seized an average of 125 vehicles every month. It auctioned between 40 and 50 cars monthly, returning only 40 a month to innocent owners.

(Thanks to Richard Diamond.)

  • nyer4evr

    I found your site by accident, and have been reading these blogs and I’m outraged. I don’t understand how any American citizen can sit back and allow this to happen! I don’t drink but obviously that doesn’t matter, if I run into a copthat thinks I have been. I live on Long Island and our newspaper Newsday has a section called the wall of shame where they post the picture of every person that has been accused of DUI even before they have been convicted. (Obviously GUILTY BEFORE PROVEN INNOCENT). A woman in her 50’s a few months ago suffered a diabetic seizure while driving. A cop pulled her over arrested her and even after they realized she hadn’t been drinking, and the DA dropped all charges Newsday still refused to take her picture down. She promised to sue the police dept, the county, state, and Newsday. I haven’t heard anymore news about her, and I hope she does sue them for every penny she can get. I’ve been calling America the new Soviet Union for a number of years now and it’s not just the 4th amendment. Freedom of speech is basically gone also. If MADD was able to brain wash the American people and pressure the government into passing these ridicules laws that do nothing but punish innocent and responsible people that may have had a drink or two and then pulled over while driving home, then we must fight back. Here’s my idea…The holidays are approaching. I want to get a group of friends about 10 of us. Find a sobriety road block. Have video camera’s rolling and if we are stopped questioned and or asked to step out of our car to perform the sobriety test (even though we haven’t been drinking of course) We all then fill the court room with lawsuits against the police, county, and state. It won’t matter whether we win or lose the fact is if thousands and thousands of Americans did this in every city and town, wasting taxpayers money and time the supreme court would have no choice but to put an end to our constitutional rights being violated. If anybody else has any better ideas, I would love to hear them.


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  • Bryan

    No wonder they hate Uber! & rideshares.