Mistakes are a part of life. Every person has and will make mistakes. The consequences of those mistakes, however, are often overlooked. This is true for drunk driving and DUI convictions.
Many people think of DUI convictions as having only legal consequences, like fees and fines, possible jail time, and the temporary loss of the right to drive. These are all possible, but DUI convictions can have long-term and long-lasting effects on other important aspects of life. Even things like your insurance coverage can be affected by a DUI conviction.
Not every person is affected the same way by DUI convictions. Many of the consequences depend on the state the conviction is given and the circumstances of the DUI arrest.
Regardless of where, it is important to find the necessary support and representation to wade through the mess of court appearances and answer questions like “Will my car insurance rates increase after a DUI?”
What is a DUI?
The idea of a DUI is not new. Many popular movies and TV shows use the term DUI to add drama and suspense, but in many cases, the term is used incorrectly. This makes it difficult for people to understand a DUI charge if they receive one. It’s important to know the true, legal definition of a DUI.
The legal definition of a DUI is often thought of as a person driving a car who has a blood alcohol content above the legal limit. That definition, however, is only a small part of the legal definition.
A person is guilty of driving under the influence if they are found to be intoxicated or impaired and driving any type of motorized vehicle with a drive train. This definition goes far beyond driving a car.
A person who is intoxicated and drives any motorized vehicle including a lawnmower, mopeds, or jet skis and other motorized watercraft is guilty of a DUI.
What are the legal consequences of a DUI conviction?
The most immediate consequences of a DUI conviction are those given out by the legal system. Those convicted of a DUI are most often charged with a felony, sentenced to a jail stay of differing lengths, and required to pay thousands of dollars in fees. The specifics in each case are determined by state law.
In more severe cases, like repeat offenders, the individual is at risk of a suspended license. The loss of your license has additional consequences as well. Without a license, you can’t drive to work or to other obligations. This can place additional pressure on you and your loved ones.
It is also possible to have additional charges attached to a DUI conviction. A person can also be charged with careless or reckless driving. This and other additional charges will depend on the state a person is charged in and the circumstances surrounding the arrest or incident. Each additional charge can carry more fees, fines, and jail time.
There are long-term legal consequences as well. After a DUI conviction, many drivers are placed on probation.
During this time of probation, drivers will be required to stay away from all alcohol and maintain contact with their probation officer. Any breach of the terms of probation may result in an extension of the probation period, additional jail time, or fees.
Drivers may also be required to take alcohol education classes or substance treatment. These consequences are given in hopes that drivers will learn from their mistakes and reduce the number of repeat offenders. This requirement is determined by state law and the judge presiding over the case.
How does a DUI conviction affect your employment?
DUI convictions do not stay secret. In fact, DUI convictions are visible to current and future employers. DUI convictions can make it more difficult to find a new job. Jobs that require any sort of driving may be completely off limits, while unrelated employers may still be uncomfortable hiring someone with one or more DUI convictions.
Current employment may also be at risk. A DUI conviction requires court appearances, possible jail time, and even possible community service. All of these obligations require an extensive time commitment that may interfere with a work schedule and make it difficult to maintain a job.
How does a DUI conviction affect your academics?
These types of convictions can also affect your academic future. If you are convicted of a DUI and the recipient of a scholarship, then that scholarship may be in jeopardy. Scholarships can be revoked or denied after a DUI. Without a scholarship or grant, college becomes more expensive and, in some cases, unattainable.
If you are in the process of applying to colleges and universities, you may be asked to disclose any criminal history. A DUI conviction may make it more difficult to be accepted to institutes of higher learning.
How does a DUI conviction affect your relationships?
Felony convictions, like DUIs, can also have negative effects on personal and professional relationships. People often view DUI convictions more harshly than other traffic offenses and misdemeanors. This can result in strained or severed relationships.
How does a DUI conviction affect your car insurance?
Insurance companies often consider a driver’s past driving history and overall record when determining coverage and policy cost. A DUI conviction will almost always lead to higher rates and premiums because these convictions result in a “high-risk” designation.
Higher insurance premiums coupled with the sometimes extensive legal fees can cause considerable financial stress.
The good news is many insurance companies will work with you to reduce the effects of a DUI conviction on your insurance coverage. Contact your insurance company after being charged with a DUI.
DUI convictions are costly and often debilitating events. People find themselves in a mess of legal ramifications that are too often followed by other social and professional consequences.
Even after those hurdles are overcome, a DUI conviction can still have a grip on your life, but there are ways to limit the long-term effects. Don’t stay trapped by the mistakes of your past, find help and regain control.
Laura Gunn is a legal expert who writes and researches for the legal and insurance education site, FreeAdvice.com. She is passionate about informing her readers on their legal rights and how to get the representation and support they need.