Everyone knows that drunk driving is against the law, and most of us are aware of the fact that a DUI can result in serious legal consequences. Even a first offense can result in substantial fines, probation, mandatory drug and alcohol counseling, community service, and even jail time. But did you know that a DUI conviction can have collateral consequences that can last for years or even decades after the sentence imposed by the judge has ended? Here are some of the ways that DUI can affect you outside of the legal system:
As Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state, the employer-employee can be terminated by either party and for any reason (provided that it is not a reason that is prohibited by law, such as because of an employee’s race or gender). As a result, if the state even accuses you of DUI, your employer could terminate you, and you would have no recourse. In addition, your employer would not have to hire you back even if you obtained an acquittal or the prosecution dropped the charges!
In addition, if a court convicts you of DUI, it can make it extremely difficult to get a job in the future. Most employers these days conduct a background check on their applicants, and a DUI conviction would likely hurt your chances of getting hired.
Many schools have student codes of conduct that prohibit their students from engaging in illegal activity—drunk driving included. Consequent, if you are a student, you could face serious sanctions from your school after a drunk driving conviction. These potential sanctions include the following:
Furthermore, if you plan to go to school in the future, it is essential to keep in mind that schools may use an applicant’s criminal record as a factor when making admission decisions. As a result, a DUI conviction could derail your academic and professional plans before they even start.
If you are facing a DUI charge, it is essential to understand that a conviction is not a foregone conclusion. There are often legal defenses available that may be able to help you avoid a conviction. For example, if the police pulled you over without legal justification, it could result in a judge suppressing all evidence gathered during the stop—typically forcing the prosecution to drop its case against you. Other defenses may be available, and you should speak to an attorney immediately to find out if any of them apply. Finally, the representation of a lawyer may be able to help you get into a diversionary program such as Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) that, if completed successfully, may allow you to avoid having a conviction appear on your criminal record.
As the information above should make clear, the consequence of even a first-time DUI conviction can go far below a slap on the wrist from the court. At the Skinner Law Firm, we are committed to protecting our clients’ futures and do everything we can to mitigate the short and long-term effects of a DUI case. To schedule a free case evaluation with a criminal defense lawyer in Chester County, Pennsylvania, call our office at (610) 436-1410 or contact us online.