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The Cost of a DUI: Personal & Financial Impacts
Did you know that every 53 minutes, someone in the U.S. dies from a DUI accident?
Simply put, you should never drink and drive. Buzzed driving is drunk driving, and both are treated equally in the eyes of the law. Should you find yourself on the wrong side of the law with a DUI on your hands, the consequences stretch beyond hefty fines and rehabilitation programs.
A DUI can even negatively affect your credit score, as financial reporting organizations will access your public criminal record and reflect it accordingly.
Drunk driving is interchangeable with impaired driving, and registering a blood alcohol content (BAC) at 0.08% or above is a criminal offense. It used to matter what state you’re in when you get a DUI, but it no longer does.
In fact, some states don’t rely on your blood alcohol content to determine intoxication. Instead, they rely on tests and other evidence to prove your impaired state.
Getting flagged for a DUI offense will also inevitably raise your insurance premiums as, in the eyes of the insurance company, your safe-driving skills are now deemed minimal. How long does a DUI stay on your insurance? If you find yourself asking “what are the consequences of a DUI” Read on to find out.
How Insurance Companies Penalize DUIs
Insurance companies use their own independent point systems to determine increases in your premiums, and most states have their own ways of penalizing DUIs. The number of points you incur for a DUI depends on your insurance provider, but all insurance providers use the same calculation to determine penalties.
The formula is simple — take the number of points you earn from your DUI and multiply it by a predetermined rate.
James Murphy of Murphy Lawyer adds, “Keep in mind that DUI offenses tend to get higher points than, say, speeding violations, so you can expect a steeper penalty for a DUI.”
If you get a DUI, it can stay on your insurance for up to 10 years, but there are measures you can take to reduce this amount of time.
What Are The Consequences of a DUI Financially
The financial ramifications of a DUI are many, and they start with your credit score. Financial reporting organizations will receive notification of your DUI and reflect it on your credit score appropriately.
A hit to your credit score, especially if it’s already either fair or poor, will make it even harder for you to be deemed a creditworthy borrower in the eyes of lenders for necessary debt, like your home’s mortgage.
You May Lose Your Job
The next thing you should be worried about after receiving a DUI conviction is losing your job. Your employer will have free, public access to your criminal record as well as your DUI’s official case number. If your employer doesn’t hire candidates with DUIs on their records, to begin with, this is your ticket out.
It’s up to your employer as to whether they’ll fire you, but should you lose your original job, it’ll be even harder for you to find a new one. Some employers simply can’t afford to hire employees with DUIs due to either legal or ethical reasons.
On every new job application you fill out, you’ll have to claim and explain your DUI. Should you try to hide it, your employer will find out through your background check.
It’ll Be Harder for You to Borrow Money
Finally, while a DUI negatively affects your credit score, to begin with, from a professional standpoint, lenders will have even more difficulty lending you money. A DUI places a nice, big blemish on your public reputation.
Even if company policy doesn’t strictly prohibit lending to those with DUIs, the lender can still use their own professional discretion to decide if it’s still a good idea, and a DUI certainly isn’t working in your favor.
If you’re a small business owner, losing your job from a DUI may not be an issue for you. But if you haven’t legally separated your personal assets from your corporate ones, there’s no corporate veil that masks your personal liability.
You’ll be using your personal score (now scarred by your DUI) instead of your business’ credit score to signal creditworthiness to lenders. This is why it’s almost always a good idea to keep the two separate when you start your own business.
The Psychological Effects of Alcohol and a DUI
Excessive alcohol consumption affects everyone differently. There’s no single formula used to determine its consequences across the board. However, if your alcohol consumption has led to a DUI, chances are higher you’re in the territory of long-term, excessive drinking and not so much that of a stupid mistake.
The effects that alcohol consumption has on your mental health can range from short-term memory loss, long-term memory loss, and even a steady decline in your dopamine levels. A drink here and there is not overly concerning, but your drinking habits should never lead you outside the realm of smart decision-making.
For instance, if you like going out on the weekends with your friends and drinking excessively, you should always have a system or process in place that helps you pace yourself and prevent drunk driving. Decide who will forego drinking and drive for the night or take advantage of the many ride-sharing services available.
One Drink Too Many, Too Often
Usually, for casual drinkers in a state of mildly impaired judgment due to alcohol consumption, you’re still capable of some rational thought. This rational thought should be able to still stop you from getting behind the wheel in the first place.
It’s when you begin to feel like you can do anything, after that casual drinking becomes too habitual, that you should stop and let somebody know in your group or at the establishment you’ve traveled to (particularly someone who isn’t as impaired as you are) that you’ve reached that point.
But if over time, you’re finding there’s less and less need to do this and are starting to develop “beer-goggle” confidence, this may be a sign that your brain’s hippocampus has grown too accustomed to your heavy drinking habits and isn’t firing the “Hey, that would actually be a really bad idea,” message.
If that sounds like you or someone else you know, give drinking a nice, long break.
What to Do After a DUI
The best way to fix your DUI is to avoid one in the first place, but if it’s too late, your goal at this point should be to prove to your insurance company that you’ve learned a valuable lesson you intend not to repeat.
Attend safe driving courses or other rehabilitation programs. Drive safely from that point forward, avoid all traffic violations, and you can work towards slowly reducing your insurance premiums.
It’s possible that your state has its own rehabilitation program that, if passed, can remove your DUI from your record permanently. For example, in Pennsylvania, you can expunge your DUI from your record if you apply to, attend, and complete their accelerated rehabilitative disposition program.
These programs may involve community service, attending substance abuse programs, and even restitution to the victims of your DUI. You could, of course, challenge your DUI in court if you’re eligible for expungement, but there are no guarantees this will work.
Should you go this route, prepare to pay some fat attorney fees.
About the Author
Luke Williams writes and researches for the auto insurance comparison site, Insurantly.com. His passions include writing about how people can save money, spend smarter, and drive with peace of mind.