DUI is a criminal offense that many individuals commit without realizing the severity of their actions and the consequences they may face. Drinking alcohol is rarely looked upon as anything but a common activity for adults. Since most adults drive, getting behind the wheel after having a few alcoholic beverages happens frequently. For many individuals facing their first DUI charge, it is the first time they have been arrested or have any involvement in the court system. For this reason, it is often a terrifying experience that enlightens the individual to the consequences of their actions. The biggest question most first-time offenders have is, “Will a DUI ruin your life?” The good thing is that the answer to that question is, typically, “No, a DUI does not have to ruin your life.”
In many cases, hiring an experienced DUI attorney will result in an outcome that allows them to go on with their life with relatively little change. A skilled Riverside DUI attorney will be able to work with you on a strategy to mount a defense that gets your charges dropped or wins your case. These are the most desired results, as they allow you to move on with your life with no repercussions at all. In some circumstances, a DUI lawyer will be able to reach a plea deal with the prosecutor that results in less severe charges, such as reckless driving. It is always best to hire a DUI attorney if you are facing charges, rather than handling matters on your own, because most individuals don’t have the experience to achieve the best outcome on their own. If you are convicted of your DUI charges, you will face various potential punishments that affect different aspects of your life in one way or another.
How Do First Offense DUIs Affect People?
For most people, their first DUI offense will result in misdemeanor charges, but there are situations in which a DUI may be considered a felony. For instance, if you are arrested for driving under the influence with a child in the vehicle or are involved in an accident whereby someone is hurt or killed, it affects your case. You will face much more extreme charges and punishments than you would in a case where you were simply pulled over after having a few drinks. Consider the following ways that first-offense DUIs affect most individuals.
- Your finances. One of the places that DUIs hit individuals the hardest is in their bank account. DUI cases are known to be extremely expensive, and these are some of the costs that are typically involved:
- Auto insurance. When you have a DUI on your record, your car insurance rates will almost assuredly go up significantly and potentially continue to cost you more for years to come.
- Reinstating your driver’s license. When you are convicted of a DUI, you will lose your license for a period of time, and you will need to pay the necessary fees to have it reinstated afterward.
- Vehicle-related fees. Your car may be impounded upon your DUI arrest, and you will have to pay the impound lot fees to get it back. You will most likely also be required to have an ignition interlock device installed when you get your license back and pay all the installation and maintenance fees involved with the device.
- DUI school. One of the mandatory punishments for DUI convictions in the state of California is attending DUI classes, which may cost you anywhere from $500 to thousands of dollars, depending on the specific situation.
- DUI fines. The initial fine for your DUI can be as much as $1000, but it doesn’t end there. The courts will impose additional penalty assessments to your fine to cover state and court costs. In some first DUI cases, these additional fees are between $1000 and $2600, but they can be significantly more.
- Your career. Getting a DUI can affect your current job in various ways, the most obvious being missed work time if you receive a prison sentence. In addition to that, a DUI conviction will go on your permanent record unless you are able to get it expunged. This means that any time you apply for a job in the future, you will be required to disclose it as part of your criminal history. Some employers require a criminal background check to verify that you are truthful on your application. Although it may seem that a DUI isn’t that serious when it comes to getting a job, many employers consider it to be a liability.
- Your freedom. Among other restrictions to your personal freedoms that may result from a DUI conviction, jail time is typically the most dreaded. A first-offense DUI may require you to spend anywhere from 48 hours to six months in prison.
- Your license. It is common knowledge that you will lose your license if you get a DUI. This affects each individual differently depending on how long they lose their driving privileges and their ability to take public transportation or find another means of getting from point A to point B. In cases where the judge shows extreme leniency, an individual’s license may only be revoked for four months. In other cases, it could be years. There are multiple ways that a Riverside DUI attorney can help you to hold onto your license for a bit longer, receive a shorter revocation period or attain a restricted license for driving to work or school.
Although a DUI will not necessarily ruin your life, there are many ways that it can change your lifestyle and have a negative effect on your personal freedoms. If you wish to fight your DUI charges, or at the very least aim to get your charges reduced or a lighter sentence, it is vital to have a knowledgeable attorney on your side. An experienced DUI attorney has the resources and know-how to help you achieve the outcome that least affects your daily life.
Will a DUI Ruin My Career?
Just as a DUI doesn’t have to ruin your life, you can also avoid the negative impact it may have on your career by hiring a Riverside DUI attorney to represent you and fight to reduce your sentence or have your charges dismissed. There is never a guarantee that you will be successful, but it is worth the effort when you consider the many ways that being convicted of a DUI can affect your current job and your future. Consider the various negative impacts that a DUI may have on your career.
- CDL drivers. If your job requires you to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to operate work vehicles, a DUI may force you to find new work. When you are convicted of a DUI in California, the conviction will prevent you from obtaining a CDL for 55 years.
- Furthering your education. You may need to take classes to further your career, but you could have trouble doing so if you are convicted of a DUI. Some colleges and universities will not accept students with a DUI on their record. Some schools may accept the student but deny financial aid applications, making it nearly impossible to afford classes for some individuals.
- New jobs. When you apply for a job, the employers will likely ask you to disclose any crimes you have been convicted of, including DUI, and some will check your public records to verify your response. Many employers consider DUI drivers to be a liability and will not hire them.
- Missing work. You may think you can hide your DUI from your employer, and you may be successful in doing so, but it will involve some serious wrangling with your schedule. DUI convictions typically involve your presence for several court appearances, probation meetings, potential jail time, and attendance at DUI classes and substance abuse programs. Most of these requirements take place during the hours that individuals typically work.
- Professional licenses. Depending on the nature of your work, you may be required to maintain a professional license. These types of jobs include but are not limited to accountants, nurses, doctors, and lawyers. Most agencies require you to report the conviction of any crime to your employer immediately if you hold a license, and some will revoke your license if you commit a crime.
- Diversion programs. You may be able to avoid jail time by attending a rehabilitative or diversion program when you are convicted of a DUI. While this is beneficial to most individuals, it may still cause you to lose your job, as the courts may require you to inform your employer, and a caseworker may come to your place of employment.
- Mandatory firing. Many employers now require employees to report an arrest to them as soon as possible. Some employers have provisions outlined in the employee handbook that details their policy on immediate termination for employees who are convicted of any type of crime.
- Driving to work. When you are convicted of a DUI and lose your license, it will immediately affect your career if you drive for a living. Even if you don’t, however, your commute could be a serious issue. Many individuals can’t afford to take cabs or rideshare services to and from work every day, and public transportation is not always reliable enough to get you to work on time. Paying for transportation can be especially difficult while you are paying for DUI related court costs. Keep in mind, too, that your insurance company may cancel your insurance if you get a DUI, regardless of whether you can get a restricted license or not. It may be difficult to find another company to cover you. If you drive for a living and your employer’s insurance company refuses to cover you, it may also mean that you will lose your job.
As you can see, there are many ways that a DUI can have a devastating effect on your career. There is no doubt that DUI convictions have ruined many individuals’ careers, but that doesn’t have to be the case. When you hire a reputable Riverside DUI attorney, you increase your chances of getting your DUI charges dropped or reduced to a lesser charge, which may save your job and increase your future earning potential.
What Countries Can’t You Go to With a DUI?
Many individuals neglect to consider when they take the risk of drinking and driving that a DUI conviction may prevent them from traveling abroad. Of course, for those who have no desire or need to travel, this may not be an issue. For others who only travel abroad on very rare occasions for vacation, it may not matter. Some individuals are required to travel for work, though. This is yet another way that a DUI conviction may have a negative impact on a person’s career.
If you travel for any reason, especially for your job, it may be vital for you to hire a DUI attorney to help you navigate the legal process of fighting your DUI charges. Although you may obtain special permission from some international governments to travel there with a DUI on your record, it could create complications when you must travel at a certain time for work or have a family emergency in another country. Consider the following countries that many Americans commonly travel to for work, family, or vacation.
- Australia. Americans enjoy the ease with which they can travel to Australia on an electronic visa. However, that can quickly be taken away if you have a DUI on your record. The visa application requires no convictions, no criminal record, and no close ties with anyone involved in criminal activity. They may even ban you permanently from entering the country in some cases.
- Canada. Our neighbors to the north don’t take impaired driving lightly. In fact, the crime is considered to be a felony there. Americans convicted of a DUI are restricted from crossing the border into Canada for at least five years. Traveling there will still require you to apply for criminal rehabilitation or pay a $200 fine. After ten years with a clean DUI record, Canada allows Americans back into the country, as they consider you to be “rehabilitated by time”.
- Malaysia, Japan, and China. Many Americans have family in these countries or travel there for their jobs. If you need to travel to one of these places and you have a DUI, you will most likely need to apply for a travel waiver, as they do an extensive background check on anyone entering the country.
- Mexico. Like Canada, Mexico will typically deny entry to anyone convicted of a DUI in the past ten years. They consider the crime to be an indictable offense, which is basically the same thing as a felony.
Although you can apply for waivers that allow you to travel to these countries with a DUI on your record, it is certainly easier if you avoid the DUI conviction in the first place. Other countries that may present problems include South Africa, Iran, and the United Arab Emirates.
Can a DUI Affect Buying a House?
When you apply for a mortgage, the mortgage lender is not likely to require a criminal background check, but having a DUI conviction can still affect your ability to get a home loan. Lending institutions do extensive research into your employment history, credit, and financial background. Since DUIs can affect these factors in various ways, they can inadvertently cause you to be denied for your mortgage. The following circumstances detail the ways that a DUI conviction may affect your ability to buy a home.
- Credit. There are many scenarios in which a DUI can have a negative impact on your credit report. A DUI conviction involves hefty fines and court fees that must be paid according to court guidelines to avoid further criminal charges. In some cases, the additional financial burden of paying these costs affects an individual’s ability to pay rent and other bills on time. This can, of course, harm the individual’s credit. These negative impacts could last for years.
- Job loss. If you lose your job due to your DUI conviction, or if you end up losing the job because you can’t get to work regularly when you lose your license, you will certainly have trouble paying your bills and DUI fees. Other factors like transportation costs may affect your ability to pay bills, even if you maintain your job, or you may have to accept a position with another company, making less income than you made before the DUI.
- Gaps in employment. If you are convicted of a DUI and are sentenced to time in prison, you may have to miss a significant amount of time from work, even if your employer allows you to keep your job. Regardless of whether you go back to the same job after your prison sentence or start with a new employer, your mortgage lender will see this gap in your employment history. You will have to explain that you were in jail. They cannot hold the jail sentence against you, specifically, but they can deny your application due to missed work time.
How Do I Get a DUI off my Record?
If you are convicted of a DUI, you will most definitely want to get the conviction off of your record as soon as you can. Among other reasons, you will want the charge to be gone so that you have a clean record if potential employers require a background check. Many Californians are under the impression that a DUI conviction will simply disappear, or “drop off”, of their record, but this is not true. If you want a DUI conviction off of your permanent record, you will have to petition the courts to expunge your record of the offense. Hiring a Riverside DUI attorney is the best way to approach the courts to expunge your record. Some of the basics you may want to know include the following.
- Should you hire an attorney? The best way to handle a DUI expungement in California is to hire a lawyer to handle the case. The courts will require sufficient evidence that the expungement is in the interest of justice, and an attorney will be able to help you prove that. California courts place the legal standard for DUI expungements at a higher level than that of other crimes, so you will want to be sure you have an attorney on your side. Prosecutors will often object to your application for DUI expungement. The courts have the power to side with the prosecutor and deny your petition, so handling the legal process by yourself is not recommended.
- When can you apply? You can apply for a DUI expungement at the end of your probationary period in California, which is typically three years after the conviction. If you have fulfilled all the obligations of your probation, there is no additional waiting period before you can apply for the expungement. If you wish to attempt to get your DUI expunged from your record in less time than this, there are provisions in place that allow for a motion to end probation for DUI offenses early. This is not an easy task to accomplish. Courts, prosecutors, and judges in California do not want to give the impression that they are soft on DUI convictions.
- How long does it take? In most cases, your DUI expungement will take between three and four months, but this is always subject to change. The courts do not consider expungements to be high priority cases, so delays may occur.
- Can I travel to Canada after my record is expunged? Yes, Canadian courts have ruled that they will yield to the jurisdiction in which the offense occurred. So, in short, if the California courts say that your record is expunged, the Canadian government will honor that and allow you into the country without going through the hassle of paying the Canadian fine or attending their requisite rehabilitation program.
If you are facing a DUI or have been convicted of one and are concerned about how it may hurt your life or career, a skilled Riverside DUI attorney can help. Reach out to the team at the Law Offices of Catherine A. Schwartz today at (951) 338-5962.