NASCAR Driver AJ Allmendinger Pays High Price for DUI

Mary Jo BuchananSenior Writer IOctober 30, 2009

MARTINSVILLE, VA - OCTOBER 23: AJ Allmendinger, driver of the #44 Coleman Natural Foods Dodge, looks on in the garage prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series TUMS Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway on October 23, 2009 in Martinsville, Virginia.  (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images

AJ Allmendinger, driver of the No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Cup car, is the latest NASCAR driver to experience the high cost of driving while under the influence.

Allmendinger was arrested in Mooresville, N.C., after being stopped for a sobriety test, where he blew a .08 in the breathalyzer test, the threshold for drunk driving in that state.

NASCAR reacted swiftly, putting Allmendinger on probation until the end of the year.  Ramsey Poston, NASCAR spokesperson advised that, under the terms of his probation, another infraction by the driver would result in serious penalties and ramifications.

While this is an important penalty, Allmendinger no doubt will face the even higher costs of a DUI charge, one that every person who is arrested for this reason experiences.  That penalty is the shame and humiliation factor.

The actual experience of being arrested is one that is frightening, humiliating and traumatic, all at the same time. 

When the police put the handcuffs on and the ride in the back of the police car commences, it is one of the most humbling experiences for anyone who has been caught drinking and driving.

For Allmendinger, the shame factor is even more pronounced, given his visibility as a NASCAR driver.  The news was immediately broadcast and the Facebook links and tweets came out fast and furious.

Another major penalty that comes out of a DUI is the knowledge that others are now disappointed in you or the feeling that you have let those that you know and love down.  Allmendinger certainly must be experiencing this, especially driving for one of the biggest names in motorsports, Richard Petty.

Petty had this to say, "I am deeply disappointed this has happened.  A.J. has accepted full responsibility for his actions and will work to make this right."

There are also real consequences of a DUI.  One of the most important for many is the loss of your driver's license, a penalty that often hits those charged hard, as they are unable to work.

Allmendinger has indeed lost his driver's license for 30 days.  NASCAR has confirmed, however, that its race car drivers do not need a valid driver's license in order to participate, so Allmendinger will race this weekend at Talladega.

Other penalties for DUI are financial in nature, including fines, attorney fees, insurance surcharges, the cost of participating in mandatory DUI classes, and paying for possible treatment options.  In most states, the total "cost" of a DUI can add up to well over $10,000 for all of these charges.

While Allmendinger may not have to worry so much about the financial implications as others, there still may be ramifications in the driver's pocket book. 

While he will have to shell out additional dollars through the process, the biggest financial impact may be on his marketability and loss of attraction to sponsors and others willing to support his race car and career.

Allmendinger was fortunate in that no one was hurt or killed as a consequence of his choice of drinking and then driving.  Unlike the situation for many others, this driver will at least not have to bear the penalty of guilt for the rest of his life for his actions.

There is no doubt that AJ Allmendinger will now begin the retribution phase of his DUI penalty.  He has already done so, apologizing to his fans and supporters, and urging all to learn a lesson from his actions.

"It was a bad judgment call and I apologize for that… to my fans, sponsors, team and NASCAR," Allmendinger said. "... Hopefully I can be an example of being more aware of drinking responsibly and even if you feel fine, take a cab, call a friend. Just don't risk it."


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