The Consequences of a DUI Conviction

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on August 2nd, 2013

I've written in the past about the severe consequences of a DUI conviction — consequences far beyond the immediate fines, suspended driver's licenses, schools, ignition interlocks and jail terms.  See, for example, What Does a DUI Cost?.  In most states, a first-offense misdemeanor DUI can have more serious repercussions than many felonies — and in the long run, more….far more.  

The following comments posted on this blog by a reader are illustrative:

A DUI is like a cancer, as is mentioned in Mr. Taylor’s web site. Like he wrote, it’s expensive to fight a DUI, but the alternative is scary. I’ll add that it is like a cancer for another reason — the penalties are so far reaching and numerous that, still, 3 years after my DUI conviction (I pleaded guilty, not knowing what I was in for) I am still finding ever more ways how that DUI will and is affecting my life. Even someone with advanced spreadsheet skills would have a tough time creating a spreadsheet that would completely illustrate the penalties of a DUI from the MVD, the court, your insurance company, your professional licensing organization (mine was nursing), your employer (if you’re lucky enough to keep your job), local and state and federal government agencies and benefits, schools, the ignition interlock company, and the list so far, in my case, continues to grow. Like a cancer… 

Listen GOOD: a DUI will ruin your life, slowly, but surely. If you have to sell your soul to the devil himself, FIGHT YOUR DUI LIKE HELL, because the alternative is a LIFE of HELL.

As a DUI defense attorney, I suppose this is self-serving, but…If you are ever arrested for drunk driving, find the most qualified DUI lawyer you can — one specialized in DUI defense with extensive experience and a sterling reputation in the field.  (For guidance in finding a good DUI lawyer, see one of the FAQs on my website, What will a good DUI attorney cost?)

  • Iso

    It’s 3 years since my misdeanor DUI. A crime so ‘deliberate and violent’ so some people would have me believe (sleeping in my vehicle- so violent in fact I wasn’t even arrested, they sent me home in a taxi?), that the cancer continues to spread, unemployable, defined solely by that momentary lapse in judgment. I may as well have been convicted of a sexual attack with a weapon. A DUI will RUIN your life, people, like you cannot even imagine. And if you think only ‘drunks’ get DUIs, or that you have to be ‘drunk’ to get a DUI, or even that you have to be impaired to get a DUI? You’re right where they want you to be- ignorant.

  • Iso

    Strangest of all, maybe, is the sense of shame people feel after a DUI, and the topic of DUI is so taboo, and big time. Nobody wants to talk about it- either because they have one and feel ashamed, or the mere thought of getting one is too disturbing to contemplate? I don’t get it. There are 1 or 2 million DUI arrests every year. In Wisconsin, for example, 1 in 8 adults has a DUI conviction. And the number is only growing as they lower the bar. You can now be arrested for walking out of a bar with your keys in hand, before even getting into your car. Everyone in this country drinks and drives. Congressmen who make the DUI laws drink and drive. Lots of cops get DUIs every DAY. Judges drink and drive. Members of MADD drink and drive and get DUIs. Even defense lawyers get DUIs. Everyone drinks and drives, yet most people clamor for harsher DUI penalties. This country is sick.

  • Art

    After the legal BAC finally makes it to .00, so they can then simply wave a wand through the air in your car to detect trace alcohol and arrest you for DUI, then they will perfect a sensor that can be rubbed down your arm like a roll-on deodorant, to detect minute trace cannabis metabolites from your pores. After all, even as marijuana becomes ‘legal’, at the same time they are crafting new laws to make driving ‘with trace metabolites’ a DUI offense. So, millions of naive and unsuspecting pot smokers, lulled into a sense of ‘legal pot’, can then also be arrested for DUI. (And no more need to mess with saliva, breathalyzers, blood or any other inconvenient test to prove you guilty, on the spot). Wake UP, people…

  • Iso

    And then (it’s happening in a slight way already), there will laws that you can be arrested for ‘cell phone DUI’, by talking while driving, whether you have been drinking, or have pot in your system, or none of the above. And since cameras are everywhere- you’ll be caught on one with your cell phone in hand (like red light cameras) because your GPS chip will activate the camera, then you’ll be sent a ‘cell phone DUI’ arrest, and be ordered to appear to be arrested.

  • Art

    Question, for anybody?: CA is ordered to reduce its prison population by 8%, even if they have to waive local and state laws. Governor says there aren’t enough eligible prisoners to be released. While the standoff happens- all the while they pass more laws, to arrest and convict more people, more easily, and to extend sentences for more crimes. How to reduce prison crowding while arresting ever more people and keep them locked up longer while SCOTUS orders you to reduce the prison population? I’m just curious.

  • Iso

    The cancer spreads, and the American mental sickness continues to infect: I inquired about a vacation rental in Palm Springs. Owner searched my name online, found my DUI, and pulled the rental offer. I asked what a DUI had to do with a condo rental? Was told- ‘doesn’t look good, is all. You might not pay the rent’. I said, do you ever drink and drive? He said ‘of course- this is Palm Springs. But I never have more than a few drinks, because I don’t want a DUI’. I have now possibly entered the realm of Alice in Wonderland?

  • Karl

    Reported today on CNN, the NSA has the ability to activate the camera on your cell phone. Knowing that- since your phone also has GPS tracking, it’s no stretch to assume they can monitor your activity, and for example, how many drinks you had, then would be able to report your location to law enforcement when you leave the bar?

  • Karl

    Speaking of consequences?

    My crime: Sleeping in my vehicle after I drank 4 beers, because I was ill from heatstroke- it was 118 degrees that day. So begins the descent into my HELL…

    Charges- DUI liquor/vapors and DUI BAC above .08
    Conviction- DUI liquor/vapors(BAC charge dismissed, but still also permanently on my criminal record)

    Court sentence:
    -10 days in jail, 9 suspended
    -Fines, jail add on fees, DUI ‘fee’, and misc. ‘fees’ total $1786. (Note- the actual ‘fine’ for DUI is $300, but the fine for running a redlight is $350!)
    -Probation one year
    -MADD ‘impact panel’ attendance, plus $50 to MADD
    -Criminal record will remain for life. In this state, there is no expungement, there is ’seetting aside’, which is worthless for a misdemeanor, so for employment I forever will have to claim my conviction.

    Lawyer: I decided I could not afford to fight it, so paid a lawyer $750 to ‘hold my hand’ as I drifted through the hellish maze I had been cast into. Sadly, he didn’t do much to sway me to fight it- he told me ‘it’s only a misdemeanor’, it won’t be too bad for your future’?

    MVD sentence:
    -License suspended for 90 days
    -Alcohol screening. Done by former addicts on a for profit basis- the worse the evaluation, the longer they can force you to take and pay for ‘counseling’ sessions. Level 2= no addiction probable, 16 hour DUI class required. Level 1= probable alcohol problem, 16 hour DUI class required plus counseling sessions (from 5-15 based on the ‘counselor’ you pick at random). The screening is $50-100. The 16 hour DUI class is $150. The counseling is up to $100 per session, so up to $1500, depending on whether you picked the WRONG counselor to perform your alcohol screening. First one I picked was a mistake, he labeled me Level 1. I went to another who labeled me Level 2, which saved me from any counseling.
    -Six points on my license
    -Ignition interlock for one year. $100 to install, $70 per month, $55 to remove.
    -Shame driver license, after IID installed. In a white box on the driver license were the words IGNITION INTERLOCK. Allegedly to alert law eneforcement to the need for the IID, really used to shame the DUI offender. Shame box removed when IID completed.
    -Traffic survival school. One day, $150.
    -The DUI remains on my MVR forever. For ten years, a second DUI will cause enhanced penalties.

    Insurance: I didn’t tell them, LexisNexis did that for me. They raised my premium by a mere $8 per six months- that I don’t understand. Three years later, however, the DUI affects my ability to obtain cheaper coverage.

    Board of Nursing:
    -Swear an affidavit admitting that I am an ‘addict’
    -No alcohol for 3 years, with random monthly testing, $100 per test
    -Be evaluated by another addiction counselor, approved by the BON, to determine whether I need a 4 week, or a 6 week inpatient rehab stay. (There was no option to allow for no rehab, since they deduce that everyone is an addict that gets a DUI, and step one is admitting to be an addict?)
    -Not allowed to work during rehab, meaning you’ll lose your job
    -AA meetings daily for 90 days, then twice a week for 3 years, all must be documented by another member (so much for the ‘anonymous’ part?)
    -Monthly addiction evaluation be a counselor, three years
    -Monthly physical by a physician to determine any use of alcohol or drugs
    -Monthly reports (three pages) from your employer to detail your appearancem attendance, any drug errors, etc. This alone would get you fired- nobody wants that hassle.
    -Not allowed to have narcotic access for three years (this will get you fired, also)
    *I’m not an addict. I refused to admit to being an addict. I could not afford these conditions even if I could admit to being an addict. Therefore- my license was revoked. A lifetime career- over in the blink of an eye. In five years I can reapply, but more than likely all of the above will be required, even then.

    ETC: There are lots more things I have forgotten. But since the DUI over 3 years ago I cannot find work. Even manual labor jobs require ‘clear driving record’, or ‘must pass background check’, etc. I will forever be defined by that one lapse in judgement…and forever penalized. By the way- did I mention this was my first and only offense? That I had no points on my license? That there was no injury nor property damage? That I was sleeping in my vehicle?

    Thanks, America.

  • Karl

    The collateral costs of my DUI to society:
    -The loss of an outstanding, competent, compassionate, and highly regarded nurse of 25 years.
    -Since I lost my nursing license I also lost both jobs, making $70,000 and paying lots of taxes.
    -Since I lost my income, I let my 4 houses foreclose. I owed mortgage debt of 1.4 million dollars. When the houses were sold they caused a loss to the taxpayers of $350,000. Also, my foreclosures directly impacted the prices of the others in the area, causing other people to lose equity.
    -To update my houses I used credit cards, totalling $87,000. Those debts have since been written off as bad debt.
    -I then went on public assistance after I had lost everything. So far, food stamps to the tune of $5000. Also, I went back to school using federal grants and loans. So far I’ve received grants of about $20,000 and loans of about $25,000- loans that will likely never be repaid, because my DUI is preventing my from obtaining gainful employment. Also, I took advantage of my new poverty status to obtain thorough medical care from Medicaid to include a colonoscopy (that I couldn’t afford through my own insurance even working as a nurse), which has amounted to about $7000.
    -There are more debts that have been written off, and more damages that I have not listed. That said? My advice:

    Keep up the good work, America!

  • Karl

    Thanks, Andre. I appreciate sane opion form an other

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