Having a police officer accuse you of drinking and driving is nerve-wracking. And while the next day after an arrest you will no doubt still be quite shaken up by the whole ordeal, this is unfortunately just the beginning. What happens next - the actions you take or do not take -- have the potential to greatly change the trajectory of the next few years of your life.
While what happened leading up to the arrest is very important -- and will play into what options you have for fighting the charge -- it is important to really understand the long-term effects of a drunk driving conviction.
Penalties are steep for a first-time DUI
With literally millions of people arrested for drunk driving, it is safe to assume that there is most likely someone in your life who has gotten a DUI. However, just because it's not an uncommon charge, or just because you know someone with a DUI on their record, do not underestimate the consequences of a conviction.
If you are found guilty, there will most likely be a fine, a drunk driving program and even some community service. Losing your driver's license for some time is also par for the course. Depending, you could also be looking at jail time.
Knowing these things going into it, and just wanting to move on from the whole experience, many mistakenly think that just pleading guilty is the way to go. Especially if this is a first-time offense, many think it would be easier to throw in the towel. However, before doing this, consider the following:
- How you are going to get to work, the store or to pick up your kids after school without a driver's license? You can't guarantee that your boss will make any adjustments in your schedule to accommodate your transportation challenges, and having to even explain the situation -- to anyone -- will certainly be embarrassing.
- What happens if you drive for a living? A DUI conviction will most likely cost you your job. This means not only being out of work, but having to find a whole new profession.
- What happens if you are job-hunting? Even years after your DUI, having this on your record could stop you from being hired.
- Your insurance premiums will increase dramatically, for quite some time. Well after the suspension period is over, you will be paying a higher premium since you are now considered a "high risk."
Bring up these possibilities is not meant to scare you. Rather, it's to educate you before you make the potentially life-altering decision to plead guilty. Admitting guilt when it comes to drunk driving is not the easier option and can cost you more than you may realize.