Any criminal conviction will become a stain on your record that impacts every area of your life. A drunk or drugged driving conviction is no exception. You might not feel like you committed a crime, especially if you did not crash and no one was injured as a result of you driving under the influence, but the Commonwealth of Virginia sees it differently—and so might future employers and landlords. A DUI conviction can impact many areas of your life well into the future. However, when you hire a skilled and experienced DUI defense lawyer, you can fight for the best possible outcome to protect your future.
Penalties for a Virginia DUI Conviction
One thing is for certain. If you are convicted of a DUI, you face serious penalties. Virginia imposes a mandatory minimum jail sentence if your BAC is .15 or higher—even for first-time violations. You could also lose your license, have your vehicle impounded, and pay a fine of up to $2500 and restitution to any victims. However, as much as these penalties will affect your life in the short term, having a criminal record could impact your life in the years to come in ways you haven’t even thought of.
Potential Future Impacts of DUI Convictions
There is no way to know for sure how a DUI conviction will affect your future. Much of it depends on how much you have to lose. If you are just starting out in life, a conviction could haunt you for years to come. If you are a doctor or teacher, you could lose your professional license. When you are arrested and charged with DUI, be aware that a conviction could affect your:
- Job prospects. Many employers ask on applications if you have any criminal convictions, and they also run background checks. A conviction, even if it is “just” a single DUI, could stop them from hiring you. If you caused a crash while intoxicated and someone was injured or killed, your criminal record would look even worse to employers.
- Professional licenses. Health professionals, teachers, commercial truck drivers, contractors, and others have to maintain a license in order to work in their fields. You could put your professional license in jeopardy if you are convicted of a DUI.
- Transportation. Losing your driver’s license or your vehicle, even for a short period of time, will affect your ability to go to work or school, care for your children, maintain your household, care for elderly relatives, and much more. Most people cannot afford to lose the freedom to drive their own vehicles.
- Insurance. DUI convictions will raise your auto insurance rates, potentially putting it out of reach completely. Not driving—or choosing to drive without insurance out of desperation—will have a serious impact on your life.
- Finances. The fines, legal fees, insurance increase, job loss, and additional financial impacts of a DUI conviction can add up to a significant hit on your finances. The snowball effect could mean you can’t afford your rent, lose your house, or have to sell your car.
- Personal relationships. All of the potential effects listed above could also affect your personal relationships. You could lose your partner or spouse, lose custody or visitation rights of a child, and lose friends as a result of the fallout of a DUI conviction.
So, what can you do to avoid these outcomes? Don’t drink and drive in the first place, of course. But if it’s too late for that and you are pulled over and charged with DUI, the one thing you should do is call an experienced DUI defense attorney immediately.
We Are Here to Fight for You
At James E. Short, PLC, our criminal defense team will take every step to ensure that you get the best possible outcome. Building a DUI defense is complicated and requires legal knowledge and skill that come with time. In the 30 years that James Short has been in private practice, he has handled hundreds of DUI cases for clients from Chesapeake, Portsmouth, Norfolk, Suffolk, Virginia Beach, and the surrounding areas. If you've been charged with a DUI in Virginia, please call 757-410-5042 or contact us today to request a consultation to discuss how to best proceed with your case.