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  • Can a DUI Ruin Your Life?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    A DUI is more than just serving some time in jail, paying a fine, and moving on with your life. Instead, a DUI is a severe criminal offense that has long-term consequences most defendants do not realize. Whether it will ruin your life or not depends on how much it impacts, whether it was your first offense or subsequent, and the level of representation you have at the time.

    A DUI does not have to ruin your life. When you hire a defense attorney, your attorney can negotiate a better deal and maybe even get the charges dropped entirely, which means you can go on with your life without it affecting it too much.

    If, however, you go to trial and you are convicted of a DUI, your life most definitely will change, and in some instances, those changes can be drastic.

    Exploring the Consequences of a DUI Conviction

    To fully absorb how a DUI ruins your life, you need to look at each consequence and consider the impact it has on your life right now. Note that some of these only apply when convicted, while others apply regardless of conviction status:

    Driver’s License Revocation

    The most significant consequence, and one often overlooked by first-time offenders, is your driver’s license status.

    You can lose your driver’s license even if you are not convicted in court of a DUI, which is why it is essential to know about this consequence and your rights.

    If the arresting officer conducted a breathalyzer and your results showed you were over 0.08%, then the Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) will revoke your license automatically for six months whether you plea to a lesser charge or the charges are dropped by the state. If convicted, then the MVD does an automatic one-year license revocation.

    After your arrest, you must attend a separate administrative hearing with the MVD. It is recommended that you bring your attorney to argue on your behalf and do not miss the hearing date. These hearings are quite challenging to win, however. This is because all the MVD requires is evidence that you either were over the legal limit or refused to take the test and they will revoke your license.

    Jail Sentencing

    Another consequence is jail. The amount of time you spend in jail for a DUI depends on whether it is your first or subsequent offense. The more DUIs you have in the lookback period, the harsher the sentence will be – and you may face a prison sentence depending on the circumstances of this particular DUI arrest.

    Here is a breakdown of jail sentencing per offense:

    • First Offense: Up to 90 days in jail.
    • Second Offense: Up to 364 days in jail.
    • Third Offense: Mandatory minimum of 30 days and up to 364 days in jail.

    If charged with an aggravated DUI, the mandatory minimums increase. A first offense carries no mandatory minimum. But if this is considered an aggravated offense, you have a minimum of 48 hours for the first offense, 96 hours for the second offense, and 60 days for a third.

    Jail, even for a few days, can affect you the rest of your life. Not only does it put your employment at risk, but it can create a stigma among coworkers, friends, and family members.

    You might be looked at differently by your peers since you “served time,” and you may notice family members treat you differently or even look at you like someone else just because you served a few days in jail.

    Future Career Opportunities May Be Impossible

    Depending on whether you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony, the DUI never leaves you alone – even years after your conviction. Each time you apply for a new employment opportunity, that employer will ask that you disclose criminal records on the application. Furthermore, when they do a background check, they may find your DUI arrest or conviction. Drunk driving, for most employers, is a liability that no one wants; therefore, they will remove you from their applicant pool.

    Long-Term Costs of a DUI

    The financial burden of a DUI conviction is just as serious as the time you serve in jail. There are more than just fines you have to worry about. Instead, your financial stability can be permanently altered with a DUI conviction because:

    • You pay fines to the court post-conviction. First, you will have guaranteed fines you owe the court after conviction. Depending on the number of offenses, these fines can range from as little as $500 to as high as $1,000.
    • You must attend mandatory DUI education courses at your expense. All DUI offenders are required to attend a court-ordered DUI education course, and they are not cheap. You must pay for the course yourself, and they can cost $500 to a few thousand, depending on how long and the type of course you must take.
    • You must incur the costs of an IID. If your driver’s license is reinstated, the MVD will require that you use an ignition interlock device (IID). You are required to pay for the installation initially, monthly maintenance, and any repairs needed.
    • You pay fees to reinstate your driver’s license. Reinstatements are not free. You must pay the application fee on top of the IID monthly costs.
    • You may be required to get special insurance. Before you can reinstate your license, you may be required to obtain SR-22 insurance, which is incredibly expensive and can cost you hundreds each month – even if you have a perfect driving record other than the DUI.

    Hiring a Defense Attorney Is Your Best Defense to Long-Term Consequences

    If you do not want a DUI to impact the rest of your life, the first thing you need to do post-arrest is to contact a defense attorney with experience in DUI cases.

    The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices has helped countless clients just like you lessen the impact a DUI has on their life. Whether it is getting the charges dismissed or finding a favorable plea, our goal is to ensure that a single night of mistakes doesn’t affect you the rest of your life.

    Schedule a free case evaluation at 505-200-2982 or request more information online.