This week marks American independence, and with parties and parades planned from Portland to Philadelphia, it’s the biggest birthday bash of the entire year. The Fourth of July weekend means picnics and beach parties, fireworks and flags, sun tea and sparklers, and lots of road trips.

Independence Day data: the celebratory, and the scary

Some 34.4 million Americans are expected to travel by car this Independence Day weekend, and there’s probably a BBQ at the end of many of their trips. Last Fourth of July, Americans had around 74 million BBQs, grilled an estimated 155 million hot dogs, and cracked open about 68 million cases of beer. In fact, more beer is sold on Uncle Sam’s birthday than on any other holiday (including St. Patrick’s Day and New Year’s Eve).

Unfortunately, all those comings and goings, combined with well-stocked coolers, means more drunk drivers on the road. In fact, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety tells us the Fourth of July is the worst day of the year for fatal car crashes. And, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association, 40 percent of all highway deaths between 2007 and 2011 were caused by drunk driving over the Fourth of July weekend.

DUI statistics: what it costs

Obviously, driving drunk can have a terrible price. But even if you’re fortunate enough to avoid an accident, you could end up paying a lot. For starters, a DUI can triple your car insurance premium for as long as 5 years. So that means if you pay $150 a month now, your premium could increase to $450 a month. Spread that extra $300 a month over the next 5 years and you will have paid $18,000(!) extra for the same coverage.

Once you have a DUI on your record, your car insurance company considers you a high-risk driver and will charge you a higher rate to offset the added risk. Additionally, you might not qualify for any car insurance discounts you may have been receiving prior to your DUI (such as good driver or claim-free), causing your rates to increase even further.

Of course, the numbers vary by state and circumstance, but after you add in fines, court costs, and DMV fees, the average DUI costs between $5,000 and $25,000. Compound all that needless expense with the inherent dangers of drinking and driving — along with the fact that you could lose your life, take someone else’s, or wind up spending time in jail — and the reasons for staying smart and safe this weekend become more than evident.

So consider this a friendly reminder from a friendly car insurance company to avoid drunk (or even tipsy) driving this holiday weekend. Whatever you have planned, from a picnic in the park to fireworks on the beach, have a great Fourth and stay safe.

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The Drunk-Driving Debate

Safe and smart | Travel hacks


about Ellen

Ellen has spent many years as a professional wordsmith, helping to shed light on such topics as world travel, cargo pants, and the porosity of bath tiles. As a freelance copywriter for Esurance, she brings her boundless curiosity to the world of insurance. Outside work, she can be found cheering on the San Francisco Giants, hiking in the Oakland hills, and (barely) resisting smuggling penguins home from Antarctica.