Get convicted of a DUI can have a major impact on your life in several different ways, but like any unpleasant experience, it doesn’t help to dwell on the past. What’s important is to focus on what you can do to overcome the situation and move forward with your life.
Exactly how a DUI will affect your life depends on a number of factors including
- Whether it was a first offense
- Whether anyone was harmed in the incident
- Your BAC at the time of your arrest
- Effectiveness of your attorney in getting you a more lenient sentence
- Your attitude and willingness to learn from your mistake
The first thing you need to do after a DUI conviction is to take a good look at the punishment the court has dealt you, and reflect on what this means. There are various consequences you will have to live with that will be either inconvenient, expensive, or both. You may be instructed to
- Pay fines
- Serve time in jail
- Report to a probation officer
- Take classes on safe driving practices
- Complete a drug/alcohol treatment program
- Undergo license restrictions, including suspension or revocation
- Restrict international travel, including Canada
- Install an Interlock Device on your vehicle
Evaluate Your Alcohol/Drug Use
Whether going into treatment is one of the things the court asks you to do, getting a DUI should prompt you to think about whether or not you have a problem with alcohol or drugs. This is especially true if your DUI is not a first offense, or if you know you have driven under the influence on other occasions, but have managed not to get caught.
It is possible that you might have a drinking problem or may be experiencing alcohol abuse if
- your drinking makes you feel guilty or ashamed.
- you lie about it,
- friends and family are worried about you,
- need to drink to feel better or relax,
- suffer blackouts,
- are unable to regulate your drinking/drug use
- your performance at work or school is suffering
- often drink or use drugs in dangerous situations including while driving or mixing alcohol with prescription medication
- your drinking/drug use causes relationship problems
If you have built up a high tolerance to alcohol or other drug. You may experience withdrawal symptoms, such as shaking, anxiety, depression, irritability, fatigue, loss of appetite, insomnia, headache, nausea or sweating. it is possible you may have crossed line from alcohol or drug abuse to developing an addiction or alcoholism
Those with an addiction or alcoholism have a tendency to drink or use more than they plan to. They may try to stop drinking or using, but fail. Alcohol and drugs may also get in the way of other interests or aggravate health problems.
Whether a treatment program was part of the judge’s ruling or not, consider committing to some kind of treatment program, if alcohol or other drugs are seriously impacting your life in a negative way.
Dealing With Driving Restrictions
Driving is a big part of many people’s lives. It gets people to work each day, and allows them to run necessary errands, as well as getting to and from social activities. Facing the suspension of your driver’s license can be a real pain. When it is near the end of your driver’s license suspension, or if you are being allowed to drive under limited conditions, such as back and forth to work only or with a Ignition Lock System attached to your vehicle, which prevents it from starting if you have been drinking, you will need to get your auto insurance realigned before returning to the road.
Often, those who have been convicted of a DUI will also have to file a SR-22 form in order to prove that they do in fact carry the insurance they are supposed to. Expect that your insurance rates will be higher than they were before the conviction. The court will likely require that your fines be paid before you resume driving, and the DMV may also have additional fees of their own and may put restrictions on your actual license.
Alternatives to Driving
At least temporarily, it is likely that you will not be allowed to drive at all, even for the purpose of getting to and from work. It is in these situations that you need to look at alternatives, especially when it comes to keeping your job. It may be possible to carpool with your coworkers and offer to pay for gas. In some areas, public transportation may also be an option. Depending on your fitness level and length of your commute, walking or biking may also be a transportation option. In some cases, employers will give you the option of working from home at least some of the days. Taking advantage of these options will give you a chance to save money in order to pay the necessary fees required to get your license back or settle the fines the court has assigned.
Preventing Future DUIs
The best way to avoid a DUI is to avoid drinking or using other drugs while you are behind the wheel. Besides undergoing any necessary treatment, you can reduce your temptation to overindulge by seeking out people who will support that decision. This might be current friends and family, or it may be other support groups. It’s a good time to reengage yourself in old hobbies or develop new interests that don’t center around alcohol or other drugs.
If you do find yourself in a position where you’re being pulled over after you’ve been drinking, be polite to the officer, but don’t perform a roadside sobriety test or admit that you have been drinking. You aren’t under oath, and likely have not been arrested when the officer asks you to do this.
If you are arrested, your rights include remaining silent, not incriminating yourself, and to have an attorney. Wait to take a sobriety test until you actually arrive at the station — it’s against the law to refuse entirely. If it is at all possible, hire your own experienced DUI lawyer rather than settling for whomever the court assigns. Topduilawyer.com can help you find a qualified attorney in your area, regardless of where you live.
Talk to your lawyer before talking to the police. Given the chance, they will use whatever you say against you. Try to remember as much detail about your interaction with the police as possible. If an officer fails to follow proper procedures, charges can sometimes be dropped or reduced. Due process can be time consuming and complex, and you may be surprised by how much the right lawyer can do for you.