Beyond the Courtroom: The Collateral Consequences of a DUI
You probably already know that a DUI can cause a world of legal trouble. You may have heard about the common penalties – from fines and fees, community service, and drunk driving education to more severe consequences such as driver license revocation and jail time. You also likely have a general sense of the litigation involved in a DUI case, including multiple court hearings, possible depositions, evidence review, and court filings. Naturally, you know a DUI is a criminal case and can stay on your record for life.
What you may not immediately think about are the problems a DUI can present outside of the criminal courtroom. Even after your case is closed, the collateral consequences of Driving Under the Influence can be just as devastating as the criminal legal process. Read on to learn about other ways a DUI can impact your life.
A DUI arrest triggers an administrative suspension of your license from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), or the DMV for short. If you consented to the breath test and blew over the legal limit of .08, the DMV suspends your license for six (6) months. If you refuse the breath test, the suspension is for one (1) year for the first refusal and eighteen (18) months for the second or subsequent refusal. If you are later convicted of DUI, a new suspension kicks in that can last anywhere from six months to a year for a standard DUI; for DUIs involving a prior record of Driving Under the Influence, serious bodily injury or death, the driver license suspension can exceed five years or can even be permanent. These suspensions, as mentioned earlier, are part of the legal consequences of Driving Under the Influence.
But beyond law, there is more to worry about when it comes to your license. In most instances, you will be responsible for fulfilling separate requirements with the DMV, such as reinstatement fees and additional paperwork. You may also have to install an ignition interlock device in your car and complete DUI school regardless of whether these were requirements for your court case. In short, reinstating your license after a DUI charge can be a headache.
We return to the legal world for a moment to warn you of the possibility of a civil lawsuit in addition to your criminal case. If the allegations of driving under the influence involve a crash with injuries, a personal injury lawyer or law firm may send you a demand letter on behalf of the alleged victim and later file a formal lawsuit against you for out-of-pocket expenses PLUS noneconomic damages (such as pain and suffering). A civil suit can subject you to further punishment in the form of money and extended litigation. While your insurance may cover some of the cost, insurance caps can prevent full protection. Additionally, you may still have to answer to subpoenas for depositions, in-court testimony, and documents.
Auto Insurance Rates
Speaking of insurance, it is almost a certainty that a DUI charge or conviction will raise your auto insurance rates. This is especially true if your DUI involves a crash with property damage or bodily injury. In crash cases, you may even be responsible for purchasing additional insurance. To understand the specific consequences of a DUI on your insurance, be sure to review your insurance policy carefully.
Employment / Background checks
As previously mentioned, a DUI arrest can remain on your record forever. (There are exceptions for DUI cases that are dismissed or reduced to lower charges; for more information, check out our Sealing and Expunging page.) Your DUI is public record and can be found in professional background checks, your local clerk website, and even Google. Imagine applying for your dream job and being removed from consideration because of a DUI arrest, despite your excellent qualifications. Or, worse: Imagine getting fired over your DUI charge. Unfortunately, it is common for employers to refuse employment to individuals with a criminal record. A charge of Driving Under the Influence can affect your livelihood and professional goals.
Professional and Personal Relationships
Justified or not, a DUI charge subjects the arrestee to judgment from coworkers, friends, and – yes – even family. Even if you don’t lose your job, you may lose the ability to be effective in your job or gain new business; coworkers and potential customers may avoid you and choose to work with others. Your friends and family members may hold you in contempt for your alleged transgression. In other circumstances, you may receive support but still lose the trust of your loved ones. Driving Under the Influence certainly has a negative connotation in our society, and it may take a while to rebuild your reputation after a DUI arrest.
School / Scholarship Opportunities
Are you a student at a college or University? Are you currently applying to a post-secondary school? Whether you’re already in college or in the process of applying, a DUI arrest can diminish the prospects of completing post-secondary education. Depending on school policy, you can be denied admission, expelled from campus, or lose critical scholarship opportunities. Each school may have its own policy, but what is clear is that every school takes DUIs seriously.
Give Your Life the Investment It Deserves
For reasons that go far beyond the law, you cannot afford to disregard or diminish your DUI case. Driving Under the Influence can rob you of the opportunity to make the most out of your life and can be a source of trauma for you, your family, alleged victims, and everyone else involved. Of course, the best practice is to avoid a DUI arrest altogether. However, if you are already a Defendant in a DUI case – or believe you will soon be charged with DUI – don’t delay in protecting yourself. You should immediately seek representation from an experienced DUI attorney. A great DUI lawyer will protect your constitutional rights and fight for the best outcome in your case. This, in turn, can save you time, money, and opportunities in the long run.
Our Palm Beach County DUI law firm is ready to get to work. Leading attorney Lourdes Casanova is a former prosecutor for the 15th Judicial Circuit with extensive experience in DUI litigation. Her DUI courtroom experience will give you the advantage you need when facing a charge of Driving Under the Influence. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.