If you make a habit of drinking and driving but somehow live to tell about it, you’re bound to be arrested for DUI sooner or later. After you pay costly fines and fulfill your legal obligations, the long-term effects of a DUI in California could continue to haunt you for years.
Of the 8 percent of Californians who have a substance use disorder, 75 percent are alcohol-dependent. More than 250,000 drivers had their licenses suspended or revoked in 2015.
Those were the lucky ones. Alcohol plays a role in a third of all fatal car crashes. It factors into more nonfatal emergency room visits than all other drugs combined.
It takes less alcohol than you might think to affect your ability to drive safely. In all 50 states, the legal limit on blood alcohol content is 0.08 percent. There’s no acceptable BAC limit for minors. Depending on your weight, gender and other factors, even a drink or two can impair vision, hearing, coordination, judgement and reaction time.
If you drink or use drugs and push your luck behind the wheel, the immediate and long-term consequences of DUI may convince you to seek help.
Loss of Driver’s License from DUI
Even for a first offense, you could lose your driving privileges for up to two years. Consider how heavily you rely on driving to earn a living, run errands and stay in touch with friends and family.
Fines for DUI
Fines in California range from $390 to $1,000. With penalty assessments and various fees tacked on, that could balloon to thousands of dollars. Just the booking fee to the arresting police department could set you back more than $350.
If fines go unpaid and are referred to judgment, your credit score will take a hit. In short, you can’t afford a DUI. It might take years to get back on your feet.
Potential Job Loss
Every case is different. You might be lucky enough to keep your license so that you can get to work. Still, bosses don’t look favorably on tardiness or absence, and DUI convictions take time.
You’ll miss work for court dates, court-ordered classes and community service. Depending on your BAC at the time of your arrest, the mandatory DUI class takes from three to nine months to complete, resulting in possible missed work days and absence from friends and family.
In the meantime, job performance may suffer. Professional relationships may sour. If you have to serve a jail sentence, your job probably won’t be waiting for you when you’re released.
Jail Time After DUI
First offenders typically serve three to five months on probation, but it’s possible to receive a two-day to six-month jail sentence in special circumstances. However, if you’re a repeat offender, you could land in jail for up to 16 months.
A Felony on Your Permanent Record
DUIs become felonies when they are numerous or when they involve exceptionally high BAC, child endangerment, bodily injury or death. Felony DUI carries a one- to five-year sentence in a state prison.
Unless a shrewd lawyer can get an expungement, a felony DUI will remain on your record forever.
Difficulty Passing Background Checks
Employers, schools, landlords and volunteer organizations routinely do background checks. Misdemeanor DUIs stay on the record for 10 years.
A DUI could prevent you from getting a job, especially if you’re applying in delivery, trucking, sales, catering, ride-sharing or other industries that require driving or the use of company vehicles.
Getting an apartment and volunteering at your child’s school could prove challenging as well.
Skyrocketing Auto Insurance Rates
Your car insurance premiums could double or triple after a single DUI conviction. Some providers are so nervous about high-risk clients that they even terminate coverage.
Loss of Educational Opportunities
Many colleges, universities and school athletic programs conduct criminal background checks and deny students who have DUI convictions. Being expelled or losing a scholarship could alter the course of your future.
Loss of Voting Privileges
If you are convicted of felony DUI, you may not vote until you’ve completed both your prison sentence and parole.
Getting sued is one potential outcome of a DUI involving injury, death or property damage. At best, you’ll owe a fortune in attorneys’ fees. At worst, you’ll owe a sizable settlement.
Civil lawsuits sometimes drag on for months or even years costing you not only money but your time as well.
There’s no denying that the effects of a DUI in California are legally and financially life-changing. The most devastating consequence of substance abuse, however, is its impact on relationships.
Every day, drug use and problem drinking tear families apart. Marriages are put to the test. Friendships are strained. Business partners are alienated. Lives are ruined.
If your habits are getting out of control, a DUI is the least of your worries.
Let Us Steer You in the Right Direction
Does drinking have an increasingly negative impact on your life? Have friends expressed concern when you insist on driving after you drink or use drugs? Have you tried without success to stop using? Do you mix alcohol with other substances such as prescription drugs? Are you dishonest about how much or how often you drink?
These are all warning signs of a growing problem.
Substance abuse is a progressive brain disease that affects ordinary Californians from all walks of life. No amount of willpower can reverse it, but professional treatment makes it a lot easier to manage.
At Ocean Hills Recovery, we offer proven methods like one-on-one behavioral therapy, peer-group meetings and family counseling. We provide resources and a strong network of support for long-term recovery.
Rehab is a safe place to be yourself without fear of judgment. This is a great time to refocus on your goals and dreams.
Don’t wait to hit rock bottom before you reach out for help. Avoid DUI, mend broken relationships, and reclaim your life by calling Ocean Hills Recovery today.
A DUI can change your life forever, but professional treatment can too.
About the author:
Greg opened his home and heart to alcoholics and addicts in 2003. He is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor (CATCI). Starting in 2009 Greg has fostered the growth of Ocean Hills Recovery into one of the most respected and effective treatment centers in the area and has been working with people with addictions since March of 2001. Greg believes in a holistic approach to recovery. His focus is on drug alcohol addiction treatment with a combination of 12 Step work, therapy and counseling, and the rejuvenation of the body through healthful eating and exercise. He has designed his program to foster a family-like atmosphere and believes that people in recovery are just beginning their lives. He encourages the people he works with to learn to enjoy life in sobriety. Greg is married to Nicole; they have two adorable sons together and an energetic yellow Labrador Retriever.