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  • Does a DUI Affect Your Credit Score?

    Posted on by JACK MKHITARIAN

    A man being tested for DUI.There are a lot of consequences of a DUI that you might not realize, but one that you may wonder about is your credit score. While a DUI conviction has a far reach, your credit score is not directly impacted by that conviction. However, your credit score could be inadvertently impacted, so it is important to understand how your credit could become the victim of a DUI too.

    There are serious financial consequences to being convicted of a DUI – even if it is your first offense. Therefore, if you want to preserve your criminal record and financial record, including your credit score, you will want to contact an attorney right away. While you wait for your consultation, here are a few long-term financial consequences of a DUI conviction to know about.

    A DUI Does Not Show Up on a Credit Report

    If someone were to run your credit report using your social security number, they would not see that you were convicted of a DUI. Criminal and credit records are two different things. If, however, your social security number is run as part of a criminal background check (which some landlords do in addition to running your credit), then your DUI arrest and conviction would show on that report.

    Regardless, the DUI itself is not factored into your credit history or credit score directly.

    How a DUI Can Impact Your Credit – It Reaches Further Than You Might Think

    So, now that you know a DUI does not impact your credit score directly, how will it indirectly affect your score and financial future?

    The Cost of an Attorney Means You May Skip Bill Payments

    You will want to hire an attorney, regardless of cost, because a DUI conviction will affect you for the rest of your life. However, you might be tempted to skip bill payments to pay for your attorney. As you know, skipping a payment or becoming more than 30 days past due can trigger a late payment on your credit history. The longer that delayed payment goes (30 to 60 to 90 days) the harsher the impact on your score. If you continue to generate late payments, that will erode your score and overall history.

    Furthermore, you might use a credit card to pay for your attorney, which means your available credit to used credit ratio changes. The more debt you have versus available credit, the lower your credit score can go and the higher your lending risk becomes. If you do not pay that credit card on time either, it will lower your score.

    Increased Insurance Premiums Cause Financial Distress

    Even one DUI will trigger your insurance to raise your premiums. The more DUIs you have, the higher those premiums will go. In some cases, you may have to carry special insurance for several months (or years) until you can get back to a normal premium. The added monthly expense may force you to use credit cards to supplement where your cash cannot, or you may skip payments on other bills and debts to pay for your insurance.

    Jail Sentence Removes Your Source of Employment and Income

    Whether it is a first-time DUI or a subsequent one, you may spend some time in jail. Even a few days in jail could force your employer to replace you. Worse, if you have a job that requires driving a company vehicle, you may lose that job because of your temporary driver’s license suspension. Certain professions will not allow you to continue if you have a criminal record, even if it is a DUI, and you could lose a professional license that once qualified you for a position.

    Once you lose that income and stability, you are more likely to go into debt, become late on payments, and even default on loans.

    Unpaid Debts and Fines May Go to Collections

    Your unpaid debts, once they remain unpaid for a certain amount of time, are often sent to collections, and that collection automatically goes on your credit report – dragging your score down with it.

    You May Experience Repossession or Foreclosures

    On certain items, such as a home or vehicle, if you fall behind, the lender will foreclose or repossess the item to cover their losses. Not only does that take a tremendous toll on your credit score, but you are still responsible for the remaining balances.

    For example, the bank repossesses your vehicle. They sell that vehicle (at current market value) to cover your loan. You owed $18,000; the bank sold it for $15,000. That remaining $3,000 does not disappear. Instead, the bank will then send that remainder to collections and work toward getting a legal judgment against you for the balance due.

    Judgments and Liens against You Go on Your Credit History

    Judgments are court-ordered repayment requests. That means the creditor has gotten the court’s approval to collect, and the judge may allow them to go as far as garnishing your wages or seizing assets to pay for the debt. A judgment or lien is by far the hardest hit to a credit report, and they remain on your credit report for 10 years – which means your score could suffer for a decade. Even if you repay the judgment, you will need to go through special processes to have that negative action removed from your report.

    The Financial Consequences Are Only Part of the Long-Term Consequences If Convicted of a DUI

    Couple of keys and a small glass of drink.These are only the financial consequences of a DUI, and there are many other long-term consequences if you are convicted. Not only do you have the immediate ones (like a driver’s license suspension or time in jail), but you will have a criminal record that follows you everywhere you go. You may have to take court-ordered alcohol treatment classes, use an ignition interlock device, and suffer through the constraints of probation or parole.

    Bottom line, if you want to avoid the harsh consequences of a DUI, you need someone by your side ready to fight for your rights. The team at New Mexico Criminal Law Offices knows how a single night can destroy a person’s life. We fight aggressively to protect our clients and get the best possible outcome.

    Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation or use our online contact form to get started.