The Collateral Consequences of a DUI Conviction
If you have recently been charged with drunk driving and talked to others about the issue, you may have been told that it’s not that big of a deal, particularly if it’s your first time. While it is true that the standard outcome of a simple DUI case in which there are no aggravating factors typically does not involve jail time, it’s important to understand that every DUI is a serious matter, and the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction can often be much more damaging than the sentence imposed by the judge.
What are Collateral Consequences?
Collateral consequences are the consequences you can experience as a result of a criminal conviction that are not directly imposed by the court. Importantly, these kinds of consequences can arise years or even decades after your court-imposed sentence has come to an end. Importantly, the existence of these kinds of consequences can change the calculus when it comes to accepting a plea bargain. For most people, a Suspended Imposition of Sentence (SIS) is a great outcome to a DUI case, but if you are in a regulated profession, it may result in serious career consequences. For this reason, you should be sure to discuss your professional life and goals in detail with your attorney early on in your case.
Some of the more common collateral consequences associated with a DUI conviction are discussed below.
Employers are understandably hesitant to hire people with a criminal record – particularly if that criminal record may indicate a problem with drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, because Missouri and Illinois are both at-will employment states, your current employer is free to fire you for a DUI or any other criminal conviction, even if it does not directly relate to your job.
Most educational institutions have rules that prohibit their students from engaging in illegal activity or abusing drugs and alcohol. As a result, a DUI conviction could very easily land you in hot water with your school. Some of the sanctions your school could impose include probation, rescinding your admission, suspension, or even expulsion. You could also lose your scholarship or financial aid package because of a DUI conviction.
Damage to Your Reputation in the Community
A DUI conviction is a matter of public record, and these things do not tend to stay secret, particularly if you are a person who is active in your community, either socially or professionally. A DUI can have a significant impact on your reputation in your community and cause people to wonder whether you have an issue with drugs or alcohol.
Fortunately, a Lawyer May be Able to Help
If you are facing DUI charges and are starting to realize the seriousness of your situation, we have some good news: a lawyer may be able to help you avoid a conviction or at least mitigate the consequences you are facing. If you are a first-time offender, an attorney may be able to obtain a suspended imposition of sentence (SIS), which may allow you to avoid a conviction if you successfully comply with the terms of your probation. Furthermore, an attorney may be able to uncover procedural or substantive defects in the prosecution’s case that may result in a dismissal or acquittal. The best way to learn about what options are available to you is to discuss your case with an experienced defense attorney as soon as possible.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a St. Louis DUI Defense Attorney
If you have been accused of drunk driving in the St. Louis area, you should call Bruntrager & Billings as soon as you can. Several of our attorneys are former prosecutors, giving them insight into how we can resolve our clients’ cases in the most favorable way possible. To schedule a free case evaluation with a DUI defense lawyer in St. Louis, call our office today at (314) 646-0066 or contact us online.