Collateral Consequences of a DUI
Drunk driving is Pennsylvania’s second leading cause of accidents and fatalities, behind only speeding, with Philadelphia making up a large percentage of these tragedies. For this reason, even a first-degree offense can lead to serious legal repercussions, including substantial fines, mandatory drug, and alcohol counseling, even jail time. While you may be aware of these consequences, you may not realize the long-term collateral damage it also causes. So before you call just any lawyer to defend your DUI case, here are the collateral consequences you could be risking.
Increased Auto Insurance Premiums
In addition to the potential fines, you’ll be responsible for, a DUI conviction can make your auto insurance a real issue. First and foremost, your rates will increase significantly. And switching insurance companies won’t help; your criminal record makes you a high risk no matter where you go which will make companies reluctant to cover you. You could wind up paying premiums of up to hundreds or thousands of dollars more than drivers without a record.
One of the risks you take with drunk driving is losing your license. In some cases, a defendant can petition the court for a restricted license that allows you to still (and only) get to and from work, but in many cases, you won’t be so lucky. Without public transportation, that makes daily commutes a major inconvenience on you and your loved ones. Consider driving your kids to school or sporting events, grocery shopping, going to the bank or post office, or doctors visits when someone gets sick or hurt. Not to mention if traveling is part of your job, you’re looking at far bigger problems.
Lost Employment Opportunities
As an at-will employment state, employers-employees in PA can be terminated by either party for any reason (within discrimination laws). So even if the state simply accuses you of a DUI, your employer can fire you without recourse. What’s worse is they don’t have to rehire you if the charges are dropped or you’re acquitted. A clean driving record is necessary for a multitude of jobs which require good character (medicine, finance, social services, etc.), so your future employment opportunities will be significantly affected as well.
The student code of conduct at many schools and universities prohibit any illegal activity, including drunk driving. As a result, students can face serious repercussions from their academic institution after a conviction. This includes:
- Loss of a scholarship or financial aid package
And if education is in your future plans, you should know that schools may use a criminal record as a factor when deciding on applicants, which could result in the derailment of your academic plans before they even start.
If you’re facing a DUI charge, it’s crucial to understand that a conviction is not necessarily inevitable. With an experienced attorney, you’ll have the very best chance at providing a defense that applies to your case and could help you avoid a criminal record. Contact our lawyers to discuss your case in a free consultation.