When thinking about criminal convictions the immediate penalties come to mind, serving time in jail or thousands of dollars in fines. Avoiding those consequences are important. However, sometimes even more important is avoiding the collateral or indirect consequences of these criminal convictions. This may be particularly true for young defendants who may face problems stemming from the conviction for the rest of their life.
For example, take the case of driving under the influence.
A DUI conviction in California can carry harsh penalties, including jail time, fines, and a driver's license suspension. Although most people are aware of these obvious consequences, there are numerous, and often unconsidered, ways in which a DUI can affect your life indirectly.
These "hidden" penalties are often more severe than the known consequences and can have a significant impact on how a DUI case is defended. A knowledgeable DUI attorney will be able to recognize and avoid or minimize the effects of such consequences.
The following are common ways in which a DUI can impact your life that you may be aware of:
1. Commercial Drivers - Anyone with a commercial driver's license convicted of DUI will lose their CDL for a minimum of one year and a second conviction will result in a lifetime suspension.
2. Licensed Professionals - Doctors, lawyers, cosmetologists, and daycare workers, to name a few, are required be licensed to practice in their field. These professionals may face sanctions from their respective licensing board if they are convicted of DUI, including fines, counseling, probation, license suspension or revocation.
3. Car Insurance - Some auto insurers will drop you from their coverage if you receive a DUI conviction. Even if your insurer doesn't drop you, at the very least you can expect a significant increase in your monthly premiums.
4. Pilots - Any pilot with an FAA Airman's Certificate is required to report a conviction for DUI the FAA, which could result in suspension or revocation of their license.
5. Travel Restrictions - In 2011, Canada passed the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, allowing officials to prevent anyone convicted of DUI from entering the country.
6. Child Custody/Adoption - A DUI conviction can be especially damaging in the event you are involved in a child custody dispute or attempting to adopt a child. Courts and adoption agencies consider a DUI conviction when determining what is in a child's best interests, making it more difficult to win custody or obtain an adoption.
7. Enhanceable Offense - In California, a DUI is considered an "enhanceable offense". This means that a misdemeanor DUI can be charged as a felony if you have three or more previous DUI convictions within the last ten years. A conviction for felony DUI can carry the following penalties: sixteen months to four years in prison, $390-$1,000 fine with penalties assessed, habitual traffic offender status, and a four year driver's license suspension.
The forgoing are just some of the many ways a DUI conviction can indirectly affect your life. Attorney Lauren K. Johnson has extensive experience defending the rights of the accused in DUI cases. If you have been charged with DUI in California, contact Attorney Lauren K. Johnson today.