Driving while impaired (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI) is one of the most common criminal offenses in the U.S.
According to safehome.org, 10% of all criminal arrests across the country are for driving under the influence – more than all violent crimes combined!
You may already know about the short-term consequences of getting charged with a DWI or DUI, such as incurring hefty fines and having your driver’s license temporarily suspended.
However, there are also many long-term consequences that you may not be aware of and which can significantly alter the course of your life. In this article, we’ll go over what these long-term consequences are so you can better understand what’s at stake.
Let’s get started!
1. Permanent criminal record
DWIs and DUIs go onto your permanent record. That means they’ll be discovered anytime someone performs a background check on you. Think future employers, landlords, schools, and lenders.
As a result, getting a DWI or DUI could keep you from getting a job, an apartment, or a scholarship, for example. Many organizations hesitate to hire or work with someone that has a criminal record. This is especially true for jobs that require driving, like school bus driving or truck driving. Such jobs may be permanently closed to you.
The same goes for working in the military. Having a DWI or DUI on your record could make it harder to join the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, or Coast Guard—all of which have strict codes of conduct.
2. Driver’s license revocation
Getting your license suspended for a short period is one thing. But getting it revoked permanently or for many years is another.
When you get a DWI or DUI, you could lose your driver’s license, especially a commercial driver’s license, such as one used to drive trucks and buses.
Losing your license could impact your ability to get to your job, forcing you to miss work and potentially even lose your job.
In addition, not having a driver’s license can make everyday life more challenging. It’ll be harder to go grocery shopping, get to doctor’s appointments, and meet up with friends.
3. Higher insurance premiums
A DWI or DUI will also make your auto insurance premiums go up. According to ValuePenguin.com, getting a DUI will raise your car insurance rate by an average of 83%, or an increase of $1,484 per year!
Why? Because if you have a DWI or DUI on your record, you pose a higher risk of getting into a future car accident. As a result, your auto insurance company will raise your rate to offset the increased risk.
The same goes for life insurance policies. You’re more likely to die if you drink and drive, which means the cost of insuring you will go up along with your premiums.
4. Damaged personal and professional relationships
When you get a DWI or DUI, you may feel shame or embarrassment around family and friends. They may also treat you differently. Whether they do or not, your relationship with them could change for the worse.
The same goes for your professional relationships. A DWI or DUI can hurt how you are perceived by employers and coworkers, and in some cases, you could lose your job.
5. Restricted travel and residency
Having a DWI or DUI may also make it harder to travel to certain countries that don’t admit those with a criminal record.
In addition, your residency status could be affected. For example, a DUI or DWI could jeopardize your ability to legally stay in the U.S. and gain permanent citizenship.
6. Civil lawsuits
Finally, if you also caused an accident as a result of driving under the influence and someone else gets hurt, you may be held liable for their losses and injuries.
Though your insurance may cover some of these costs, you may still be responsible for a significant sum, which could require you to go into debt or even bankruptcy.
That’s why it’s important to consult an experienced DWI and DUI attorney if you ever are charged with a DWI or DUI. They can help you navigate the complex legal system and minimize your liability. Most DWI and DUI lawyers offer free consultations, so you have nothing to lose.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, you should avoid getting a DWI or DUI at all costs. It could end up haunting you for years and dramatically reduce the quality of your life moving forward. Decide now to never drink and drive. It’s not worth it.