You may already know that a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in California can have serious legal consequences. As qualified Orange County DUI lawyers, we know that even a first conviction for DUI can be penalized with a hefty fine, alcohol education classes, a driver’s license suspension, and in some cases, time in jail.
What you may not realize is that a DUI conviction can also have extra-legal consequences that may impact your life substantially for years to come.
Specifically, a conviction for driving under the influence can affect your life in three specific areas: employment, housing, and auto insurance. There is also a fourth and less specific “social” stigma attached to a driving under the influence conviction.
Furthermore, if you are a professional in California, or if you are an immigrant in this state, a driving under the influence conviction may have additional serious ramifications.
HOW CAN A DUI CONVICTION AFFECT YOUR EMPLOYMENT PROSPECTS?
A driving under the influence conviction can restrict your employment prospects substantially. Anyone who is convicted of driving under the influence will not be allowed to work in a driving job or any job that necessitates driving.
Even for employment that does not require driving, when employers learn of a DUI conviction, they may decide to hire another candidate. The hard truth is that any driving under the influence conviction can make it more difficult to get almost any job.
WHAT ABOUT YOUR CURRENT EMPLOYMENT?
Of course, drivers accused of DUI will be most concerned about their current employment. If you work as a delivery driver, a bus or taxi driver, or even as a salesperson, a driving under the influence arrest could mean losing your job. A conviction will make that loss certain.
You can’t drive if your driver’s license is suspended, and the job may not be available when the suspension is over. Some employers cannot insure drivers who have DUI convictions; other employers have established a policy against hiring or retaining anyone convicted of DUI.
And if you miss work because you are in jail, court, or court-ordered treatment, your employer can terminate you legally and hire someone else. An employer’s response to a DUI arrest or conviction will depend on the employer, the line of work, and your record as an employee.
HOW CAN A DUI CONVICTION AFFECT YOUR HOUSING OPTIONS?
A landlord may want to know if you have a criminal record. Landlords risk liability if they fail to screen prospective tenants for a criminal history, so they will probably find any applicant’s DUI conviction.
A driving under the influence conviction will probably make a housing search lengthier and more difficult. However, to avoid discrimination claims, a landlord needs to screen all prospective tenants equally.
HOW WILL A DUI CONVICTION IMPACT YOUR INSURANCE COSTS?
A DUI conviction stays on someone’s record for 10 years in California, so an auto insurance company will find any recent driving under the influence conviction when it checks a driver’s record to issue or renew a policy.
If your policy does not need renewal, the company will find a DUI conviction when your license suspension is lifted because you’ll have to request an “SR 22” form from the insurance company – and present it to the California Department of Motor Vehicles – to reinstate your license.
WHEN CAN AN AUTO INSURANCE COMPANY CANCEL YOUR POLICY?
In the state of California, an auto insurance company cannot cancel a policy or raise the premium while the policy is still in effect, but after a DUI conviction, the company may cancel your auto insurance policy or increase the premium when the policy needs renewal.
Finding an automobile insurance company to work with after a DUI conviction may not be easy. Some companies will insure you, but they can be hard to find. The important point is that your premium will inevitably cost much more after a conviction for driving under the influence.
WHAT IF YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL CHARGED WITH DUI?
Pilots, architects, engineers, doctors, nurses, lawyers, pharmacists, law enforcement officers, school counselors and teachers, and others in positions of trust will be scrutinized when they face driving under the influence charges.
Licensing boards in California are genuinely concerned about addiction and alcoholism. After a DUI conviction – or even an arrest – anyone who holds a professional license in California may face disciplinary action and a possible suspension or revocation of his or her professional license.
A professional may have to convince a licensing board that a driving under the influence arrest was a one-time, isolated incident that is not a reflection of your true character, and to accomplish that, you may need a DUI lawyer’s help.
WHAT IF YOU ARE AN IMMIGRANT CHARGED WITH DUI?
If you are an immigrant in California, you need to know that driving under the influence is considered a crime of moral turpitude by the U.S. immigration authorities, which means that a DUI conviction may cause someone who holds a visa or a green card to be deported.
For immigrants, professionals, and many other people in California, pleading guilty to a DUI charge is not an option. If you are charged with DUI in Southern California, you must reach out for legal advice and help – immediately – to a qualified DUI attorney.
WHAT CAN BE THE “SOCIAL” CONSEQUENCES OF A DUI CONVICTION?
Finally, and for every DUI offender, there is a social aspect to every driving under the influence conviction. DUI carries a stigma. For many people, a driving under the influence conviction is a strong, negative statement about your character.
A DUI conviction might mean that you lose some friends, and you’ll almost certainly meet with the disapproval of close friends and family members. The cost of driving under the influence is never, ever worth it. And the real cost of DUI is not limited to the driver and his or her victims.
We all pay the cost of DUI. In 2016, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation reported that the total cost of DUI in the U.S. is $132 billion each year – including courts, jails, legal services, law enforcement and sobriety checkpoints, and emergency medical resources.
If you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence in southern California, you must contact an experienced Orange County DUI attorney immediately and get the legal help that you are very much going to need. Your future will depend on it.