Three Unexpected Consequences Of A DUI Conviction

30 June 2015
 Categories: , Articles


It's a well-known fact that you can be sentenced to jail, ordered to pay fines, and have your license stripped away if you are convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. However, a DUI conviction can negatively impact your life in ways you may not have anticipated. Here are three unexpected consequences you may face if you lose your DUI case.

Bad Credit

To be clear, a DUI conviction will not show up on your credit report, at least not directly. It will be listed on your criminal record, which will show up on every background check potential employers and landlords conduct on you. Because it is also considered a moving violation, the charge will show up on your driving record as well, which may make it difficult to secure affordable auto insurance or obtain jobs that require you to have a clean driving history.

However, a DUI charge and conviction will almost always require an outlay of cash to resolve. In addition to fines levied against you by the court, you'll typically have to pay an attorney to defend you. There may also be costs associated with your sentence. For instance, you are generally responsible for paying the cost of having an ignition interlock installed if you're ordered to have one. If you cause an accident while driving under the influence, the victims may sue you for damages in civil court.

At minimum, you could be looking a financial hit of $5,000 to $12,000 for a first-time DUI, even if there were no injuries or property damage. Considering 76 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and one in four have no emergency savings, a DUI charge and conviction can quickly land a person in serious debt. You may not be able to pay your other bills or may be forced to take out loans to pay the fines, both of which can hurt your credit if you fall behind on your payments. Additionally, judgments from civil lawsuits do show up on your credit report, knocking your score even lower.

Restricted Bankruptcy Protection

If the debts you incur from being arrested for DUI become overwhelming, you can get some relief by filing for chapter 7 or chapter 13 bankruptcy. Your debts will either be completely wiped away and you won't have to pay them, or you'll be able to consolidate your debt and reduce it by making affordable monthly payments to the bankruptcy court.

Unfortunately, certain types of debt cannot be eliminated by the bankruptcy court.  Namely, fines and penalties associated with breaking the law cannot be discharged. So you will continue to be responsible for paying the $700 Utah courts charge defendants for first-time DUI offenses, for example.

Bankruptcy law also prohibits the discharging of debts stemming from DUIs and DWIs. So if you are sued in civil court for damages resulting from an accident you caused while intoxicated, that debt will survive the bankruptcy, and you'll still have to pay it.

Vehicle Forfeiture

With all the possible debt you'll incur from dealing with a DUI, keeping your job will be more important than ever. However, the state can make that exponentially more difficult by seizing your vehicle. Many states have laws that allow law enforcement to take possession of vehicles involved in DUIs, and those laws often afford the state the right to permanently keep them depending on the circumstances of DUI case.

For instance, in Utah, the police can impound vehicles driven by intoxicated persons. Typically, you'll be allowed take possession of the car or truck after you sober up by paying any associated fees or resolving your DUI case. However, the prosecutor can file a motion with the court to forfeit your interest in the vehicle. This may occur if

  • You were previously convicted of a felony DUI
  • Someone was killed by the vehicle
  • You were driving on a suspended, revoked, or otherwise disqualified license

Not only will you be stuck bumming rides from friends and family members or taking public transportation, you'll still be responsible for paying the car note if you took a loan from a bank to buy the vehicle.

The consequence of being charged and convicted of a DUI can extend far beyond the penalties typically assigned by the court system. Work with an attorney to develop a strategy that may help minimize the fallout associated with your DUI. For more information, visit websites like