By now, everyone is aware that drinking and driving is both dangerous and illegal. Moreover, you likely have at least a passing understanding that driving under the influence, or DUI, laws across the country have been strengthened over the past several decades. A violation of those laws will certainly place you in immediate danger of serving time in jail and/or spending time on probation. However, have you considered how a DUI might impact your future? If you have been charged with DUI, and you are only concerned about the immediate consequences of a conviction, you are missing the bigger picture. When it comes to a DUI conviction, the damage to your future is often more significant than your immediate punishment.
Your DUI Sentence
If you are currently the defendant in a DUI prosecution, you are likely worried about the outcome of your case. Your concern, however, is likely focused only on the sentence you could receive if convicted. That sentence might be negotiated by your DUI defense attorney and the prosecuting attorney as part of a plea agreement or you could be sentenced by the judge if you take your case to trial and are convicted. Either way, the sentence you receive will have an immediate impact on you and your life as it will likely require you to serve time in jail or prison and/or to spend a period of time on probation. You might also be required to satisfy special conditions of your probation such as performing community work service or completing an alcohol evaluation and treatment if deemed necessary. All of these things, however, will only impact your immediate future. What about the long-term impact of a DUI conviction?
The Long-Term Consequences of a DUI
People often make the mistake, particularly if it is their first DUI arrest, of simply wanting the entire thing to “go away.” Unless there were aggravating circumstances, such as an injury accident or minor present in the vehicle, you may be able to avoid spending any additional time in jail for a first-offense conviction. All too often, people don’t think past that fact, causing them to accept a plea agreement without taking into consideration how a DUI conviction will affect their future. With that in mind, take a moment to consider the long-term, and often far-reaching, consequences a DUI conviction could have on your future:
- Insurance rates – you probably realize a DUI conviction will impact your insurance rates, but are you aware of how much of an impact it will have? It is not unusual for insurance rates to double , or even triple, after a DUI conviction. Moreover, those rates will likely continue to be high for three to five years, or even longer.
- Professional discipline – if you hold a professional license or degree (attorney, doctor, real estate agent, nurse, social worker, teacher – the list is long) you will likely face disciplinary action up to, and potentially including, the loss of your license.
- Future convictions – hopefully, this was just a one-time mistake – a momentary lapse in judgment. However, if it wasn’t and you are convicted of any criminal offense in the future, this conviction could be used against you to increase your sentence or penalties.
- Employment opportunities – a DUI conviction will automatically disqualify you for a number of employment opportunities – and not all of them even involve driving. Social workers, teachers, and many other jobs that interact with the public may be closed off to you as a result of a DUI conviction.
- Custody/visitation with children – if you are currently going through a divorce, have been through a divorce, or will go through a divorce in the near future, your spouse could use your DUI conviction against you if custody is contested and/or to try keep you from having liberal visitation with your children.
As you can see, the future consequences of a DUI conviction are often much more troubling than even the immediate punishment meted out by the court. Be sure you think about these consequences before just accepting a plea agreement because it keeps you out of jail.
If you have been charged with driving under the influence, or DUI, in Nebraska contact the Petersen Law Office 24 hours a day at 402-513-2180 to discuss your case with an experienced DUI defense attorney.