Your friends may have told you to shake it off since it's your first offense and no worse than a traffic ticket. You will likely get a slap on the wrist and a fine, and before you know it, you'll be ready for the next party. Isn't that what summer is for, especially after all those months of studying, classes and exams?
What your friends may not realize is that a DUI conviction can have consequences that may follow you for years into the future. A DUI may even affect the rest of your life, including your future at the University of Mobile or the University of South Alabama.
The immediate cost of a conviction
While your friends may be right that there are short-term consequences, even those penalties can create a ripple effect that reaches many areas of your life, for example:
- The administrative court will suspend your license.
- Your insurance rates will likely rise.
- You will pay fines and fees.
- The court may mandate community service.
- The court may order alcohol education at your expense.
Can you picture yourself bumming rides from friends, waiting for cabs or relying on public transportation to get around? How long will you be able to keep your summer job if you regularly show up late because you can't get a ride?
Beyond the short-term penalties
In many cases, police routinely notify colleges and universities when they arrest students for drunk driving. Some universities levy their own penalties if the court convicts you of the offense. Aside from those fines and warnings, you may face severe, long-term consequences, such as:
- The university may place you on academic probation, which may remain on your permanent record even after you transfer to graduate school.
- Scholarship donors may revoke your awards, including academic scholarships.
- You may lose your campus housing privileges.
- You may have to relinquish your studies in certain areas that require professional licensing.
- You may have a difficult time finding internships or employment after you graduate.
- Depending on the institution you attend, the administration may suspend or expel you.
Many industries require candidates to pass background checks before consideration for employment. Having a DUI on your record may cause potential employers to see you as a risk or as someone who makes poor decisions.
Salvaging your future
You can take the advice of your friends and allow the chips to fall. However, courts may not be lenient on convicted drunk drivers, even first offenses. The number of drunk driving accidents and fatalities continues to climb, and many states are working to tighten the legal consequences of a conviction.
You may fare better by seeking the advice of someone who has knowledge and experience defending people accused of drunk driving. Having an attorney who will fight to defend your rights will give you an advantage that may improve the outlook of your future.