Being arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) in California has several short-term consequences. For example, you could spend the night in jail, and the police officer confiscates your driver’s license.
After being arrested for DUI, the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) may suspend your driver’s license in an administrative hearing. A driver’s license suspension can have a ripple effect throughout many areas of your life. For example, you may be unable to get to work or take your children to school.
However, being arrested and convicted of drunk driving can have long-term consequences. The long-term consequences of a DUI can have lifelong implications. Working with a California DUI defense lawyer can help minimize the adverse effects of a DUI arrest and conviction.
Long-Term Consequences of a DUI in California
The long-term consequences of a DUI charge and conviction may include, but are not limited to:
Car Insurance Rates Increase
Most insurance companies increase auto insurance rates after a DUI charge. An insurance company views DUI convictions as a high risk. People who drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs have a higher chance of being involved in a drunk driving accident.
Therefore, your insurance premium for car insurance could increase for several years. Furthermore, an SR22 form is required when you want to reinstate your driver’s license following a DMV license revocation or suspension. You must also have SR22 if you continue driving with an ignition interlock device (IID).
An SR22 is a certificate of insurance. You must contact your insurance company to obtain the SR22 certificate. It will now know if your insurance company did not previously know about your DUI conviction. The company accesses your DMV records to determine why you need the SR22 form.
Many insurance companies do not provide SR22 coverage. Therefore, if the insurance company cancels your policy or you must find insurance with another company to obtain an SR22 form, you might be deemed a “high risk” driver. If so, you may pay a much higher insurance rate.
Eventually, you may see your car insurance rates decrease if you have a clean driving record for at least three years.
Driver’s License Suspension or Revocation
Being convicted of drunk driving may result in losing your driving privileges. Your driver’s license may be suspended for six months to a year for your first DUI conviction. However, the court could suspend your driving privileges for much longer for repeated DUIs or when there are aggravating factors.
You must apply for a new driver’s license at the end of your suspension. You must pay the fees and assessments for obtaining a new license. If your driver’s license is revoked, you cannot reinstate your driving privileges.
Being unable to drive makes it difficult to get to work. If your employer requires you to drive as part of your job, you may lose your job. In addition, your children may have trouble getting to school and extra-curricular activities.
Losing your freedom to drive means losing your freedom to attend social gatherings and run errands. Arranging for rides and public transportation after a DUI can be costly, time-consuming, and frustrating.
Installation of an Ignition Interlock Device
The court might order you to install an ignition interlock device (IID). An IID is a device that checks your blood alcohol level (BAC) before you can start your car. You must choose an IID company approved by the court.
The IID is wired to your vehicle’s ignition system. You must provide a breath sample by blowing into a valve before the engine starts. If the device detects alcohol, the car will not start. You might need to blow into the device periodically while driving to ensure you have not consumed any alcohol.
You are responsible for paying for the IID device. Installation can cost several hundred dollars. Additionally, the company charges a monthly monitoring fee. Courts may require IIDs for several years. If you want to drive, you have no choice but to pay for the device.
Employment and Professional License Suspension or Revocation
A DUI arrest may immediately jeopardize your employment. Employers may fire you for missing time from work for court hearings, community service, and jail time.
Truck drivers, delivery drivers, and other people who must drive a vehicle for their job could immediately lose their job for driving under the influence. If you drive for work, you might need to change your career because of a DUI conviction.
If you do not lose your job, you might have trouble finding employment in the future. Future employers may check your criminal record. A DUI remains on your criminal record for ten years. Felony DUIs stay on your record forever.
A drunk driving conviction could impact some professional licenses. If you hold a professional license, review the standards for revocation of your license. Even though the association does not discover your DUI immediately, it could be a problem when you apply for your license renewal.
Enhanced Penalties for Subsequent DUI Offenses
Under California law, DUIs are “priorable” offenses. Each DUI within the past ten years enhances your sentence for a current drunk driving conviction. Felony DUIs remain on your record forever.
Enhanced DUI penalties could include longer jail sentences, higher fines, mandatory IID installation, longer terms of summary probation, and longer periods of driving suspension.
Disclosure in Background Checks
In addition to employers, schools, landlords, financial institutions, and other parties may conduct background checks. A DUI shows up on your criminal background check.
A DUI could result in not receiving a scholarship or grant for college. A landlord might deny a rental application. Many companies perceive a drunk driving charge as a negative indication of your reliability and ability to make sound decisions.
Increased Life Insurance Rates
A DUI on your record could increase your premiums when you apply for life insurance. The life insurance company may view you as high risk and more costly to insure. It is similar to someone who smokes cigarettes, works in a high-risk job, or participates in high-risk activities.
International Travel Restrictions
DUIs can complicate travel to another country. Some countries bar entry for anyone who has a criminal record. For example, a DUI conviction can prevent you from entering Canada.
Damage to Personal and Professional Relationships
A DUI conviction could impact your relationships with co-workers, friends, and family members. People may perceive you differently after a DUI arrest or conviction. For example, your family members may be angry that you risked your life and the lives of others in the vehicle with you.
Some individuals experience guilt or embarrassment after a drunk driving charge. Those feelings could cause depression and isolation, negatively affecting professional and personal relationships.
End or Deny a Military Career
DUIs for active service members can be problematic. You may be punished in criminal court, but you could also receive penalties from the military. If you want to join the military, a DUI on your criminal record could be a problem.
Military personnel are held to higher standards than the general public. Therefore, driving under the influence could result in being found unfit for duty or being demoted in rank.
Issues with United States Immigration Status
Being arrested for any reason could negatively impact your immigration status. For example, being convicted of DUI in California could result in deportation. In addition, repeated DUIs might prevent you from gaining permanent U.S. citizenship.
LIability in Civil Lawsuits
Causing a DUI accident results in severe criminal penalties. In California, killing or injuring someone while driving under the influence can be punished with decades in jail and extremely high fines.
However, you may also face a civil lawsuit. The person you injured may sue you for damages. Damages for a drunk driving accident could total hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you do not have sufficient auto insurance, you could be personally liable for those damages.
How to Avoid Long-Term Consequences of a DUI in California?
Being charged with driving under the influence is not a conviction. You must plead guilty or the state must prove its case against you for a conviction. You have the right to retain a California DUI criminal defense attorney or fight the DUI charges yourself.
It is in your best interest to talk to a California DUI lawyer. A DUI lawyer understands California’s drunk driving laws. In addition, an attorney knows what the state must prove to make its case.
Your lawyer investigates the circumstances and facts of the traffic stop and DUI arrest. If law enforcement officers violate your civil rights, your attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence. Without evidence, the prosecutors may not be able to prove their case.
With an attorney’s assistance, you might receive a better plea deal. Your attorney argues the facts of the case to reduce DUI charges and penalties.
A prosecutor is more likely to work with an attorney than with you. The prosecutor takes advantage of your lack of legal knowledge when negotiating a DUI plea agreement.
If the police arrest you on DUI charges in California, do not talk to the police. You can refuse a roadside breathalyzer and the field sobriety tests without penalty in California. However, you must take a chemical test after a DUI arrest or face enhanced penalties for a DUI conviction.
As soon as possible, contact our California DUI defense lawyer to discuss the best way to fight the drunk driving charges to avoid criminal penalties and long-term consequences of a DUI.