Philadelphia prosecutors and those throughout Pennsylvania in general are cracking down hard on drunk driving. It’s Pennsylvania’s second biggest cause of accidents and fatalities, behind only speeding. Philadelphia produces a huge percentage of the state’s drunk driving fatalities—not surprising since it contains the largest population in Pennsylvania.
The harsh consequences for a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) are generally well known. The offender may have to pay fines and penalties, serve time in jail or on probation, attend required classes, or complete community service. Their driver’s license may also be suspended or revoked. The consequences of a DUI are determined by state law, and may depend on factors such as whether it is a repeat offense, the driver’s blood alcohol content, if minors were passengers in the vehicle, and whether an accident or injuries were caused by the intoxicated driver.
While many people are aware of the primary consequences of DUI, they not know about the “collateral consequences,” or impacts beyond the court’s disposition of their case.
Auto Insurance Premiums Will Rise
Once someone has a conviction for DUI on their record, auto insurance may become a serious problem. Their auto insurance premiums may significantly increase, or they could even see their policy canceled.
At a minimum, most insurance companies will automatically raise rates when a customer is convicted for DUI. Furthermore, changing insurance companies will not necessarily help lower rates. A criminal record may make a driver so high risk they cannot get a policy at all, or if they can, they will have to pay premiums of hundreds or even thousands of dollars more than drivers with clean records.
The risk for cancellation of a policy, or the inability to obtain a new policy, increases with each subsequent DUI conviction or accident on record.
Transportation May Become a Challenge
If a driver loses their license because of a DUI conviction, it may become difficult or impossible for them to commute to work. In some cases, they may petition the court for a restricted license that will allow them to drive for the sole purpose of getting to and from work each day, especially when there are no public transportation options. However, the special exception for working does not apply to anything else. Consider the many places most people need to drive to on a regular basis, and how the loss of a license could make family, personal, and life responsibilities almost impossible to fulfill:
- Transporting children. If children live in the household, they likely need a parent or caregiver to drive them to and from school or daycare, after-school activities, medical providers, and the homes of family and friends. The loss of a license may mean there will be a constant struggle to ensure children are safely delivered and picked up from a multitude of locations every day.
- Handling household responsibilities. Grocery shopping may be the most significant regular responsibility that will be impacted by a suspended or revoked driver’s license, but it is just one of many errands that could become painfully complicated. Getting to the bank, post office, doctor or dentist, dry cleaners, shopping center, or vet office with a sick pet could become virtually impossible.
- Traveling for work. There are additional challenges of a DUI conviction for anyone who needs to travel as part of their employment. That may include anything from being a commercial driver to an inspector who has to visit multiple sites each day to the person who has to regularly pick up office supplies for their employer.
Lost Employment Opportunities
People who already work in an industry that relies on a driver’s license and clean record may lose their jobs. An employer who does not immediately fire employees for their criminal convictions may still need to place them on probation.
A clean driving record is a necessity for a multitude of jobs, and so a DUI conviction may mean an offender becomes ineligible for future employment opportunities. Additionally, many job applications request information about prior criminal convictions. It may seem unfair, but a DUI conviction may exclude an applicant for any job that requires good character, including professional opportunities in medicine, education, law, finance, social services, and government.
Depending on facts such as where the DUI was issued, the driver’s intoxication level, and whether it is a repeat offense, the fines and fees for a DUI conviction may be substantial. However, the impact of a DUI conviction on an offender’s finances has the potential to go well beyond the immediate fines imposed by the court. Other DUI-related costs include:
- Substance abuse treatment. A court may order substance abuse treatment and the offender will be required to attend and pay for their program. Expenses for private treatment may easily run in the thousands of dollars, while even government-subsidized treatment can quickly become very costly.
- Alternative transportation. In cases where a driver’s license was suspended or revoked, paying for alternative transportation may rapidly drain financial resources. While public transportation fares may not break the bank, many people live in places without a system and are forced to rely on private options, or expensive alternatives such as taxis and rideshares.
- Court-ordered restitution. In addition to the fines assessed by the court, an offender may be ordered to make financial restitution to victims injured by their negligence or recklessness. The amount of restitution will vary, based on the damages they caused.
Legal Consequences Beyond the Conviction
A DUI conviction may have serious legal consequences beyond what happens in criminal court. Any offender who is also attempting to immigrate to the United States may have their application negatively impacted. Any offender involved in a divorce or custody battle may have to show the domestic court why it should not limit parenting time or custody.
Do You Need a Lawyer?
If you have been cited for DUI, speak to an experienced criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. You need a strong advocate to work for you and help protect your employment, insurance, mobility, finances, and legal exposure. Attorney Brian Zeiger is committed to representing every client zealously in order to obtain the best results possible in each case. Contact The Zeiger Firm at (215) 546-0340 or online today to schedule a free consultation and learn if we may be able to help you.