Driving under the influence (DUI) is something that can derail your life in many ways, like so many other criminal offenses. There are over 700 possible collateral consequences of criminal charges, and undoubtedly if you’re convicted of a DUI, your life is going to change in some obvious ways, but also less apparent ways.
Generally, if you’re convicted of a DUI, it’s either a misdemeanor or a felony.
In many states, the first and second DUI convictions are misdemeanors. License suspensions for a misdemeanor DUI conviction can be a few months up to a year, and many states also quire the use of an ignition interlock device.
A felony DUI conviction usually comes after someone has two or more prior DUIs.
Other factors that could lead to a DUI being a felony instead of a misdemeanor include injuries or deaths, or having children in the car at the time of the offense.
While DUIs are often judged harshly not only in the eyes of the law but also society and public perception, we’re all human and make mistakes. The fallout from a DUI can lead people to experience problems in their careers and their relationships and may also cause them to experience mental health symptoms, including depression.
When you’re first arrested for a DUI, it’s extremely important to enlist the services of an experienced attorney.
An attorney can help you deal with an overwhelming and complex process, and perhaps get you a better outcome. When you work with an attorney, their goal is going to be to mitigate the fallout as much as possible of your arrest.
In some cases, however, you may be convicted of a DUI even with a great lawyer, and in that situation, you have to think about moving forward.
If you are convicted of a DUI, it’s important to realize your life isn’t over, and you can get your life back on track, although it takes work.
Be Realistic and Proactive
If you’re convicted of a DUI, don’t pretend like it’s not happening or it’s not going to affect your life. Be clear with yourself about the different ways that it will affect your life almost definitely.
When you understand the ripple effects and the challenges it’s going to create, you’re in a better position to tackle them proactively.
Sometimes either after your initial arrest or perhaps your conviction, you may be in a state of denial or shock. You may try to hide from the true reality of the situation, and that’s just going to slow your progress.
Create Goals for Yourself
Once you’re out of your state of shock or denial, you have to start thinking about rebuilding your life, because it’s the only choice you have.
You can do this by creating goals for yourself.
Set both shorter-term and more achievable goals and then also longer-term, larger goals.
Enlist the support of loved ones to help you stay accountable in reaching your goals.
Having a DUI on your record can change your career trajectory, and it’s important to consider that and rebuild your plans for yourself if necessary.
When you have some short-term goals that are realistically attainable, it can help you start to get over the guilt you may be feeling and help you rebuild your confidence in yourself.
Get Professional Help If You Need It
If you get a DUI, that doesn’t instantly mean that you’re an alcoholic, but you could have an alcohol abuse problem. If you think you do, it’s important to get help sooner rather than later.
Maybe you go to an inpatient rehab center, but there are other options aside from that. For example, you can go to a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous, or you can participate in individual counseling.
These steps can be an important part of getting your life back on track after a DUI not only because of the alcohol abuse component but also because you’ll need support, and you’ll likely need to work through some pretty serious emotional effects of your arrest and possible conviction.
What If You’re Looking for a Job?
Many employers will require a background check when you apply for a position, so if you have to find a job after a DUI conviction, it can be challenging.
Before you begin applying for jobs, do a background check on yourself to see what shows up. Sometimes DUIs don’t show up on records for a number of reasons.
On the other hand, you should check your record because there may be mistakes that make the situation look even worse—for example, the DUI may show up twice.
If you find errors, you can work to get them removed before your job search.
If the DUI is on your record and a potential employer does a background check, be honest but don’t share too much.
You might explain the circumstances, but again, don’t offer more than what’s asked of you.
You should also know your rights in your state as far as what employers can look for on your background check and reasons they can have for not hiring you.
Find Something to Focus On
After a DUI conviction, your life may be consumed by that.
Think about ways you can put your focus elsewhere while you go through this difficult time in your life. For example, maybe you find a new hobby or start a fitness routine.
You have to find something that brings you joy in your life and takes your mind off some of the other consequences.
Finally, it is possible that you can eventually have a DUI expunged from your record under certain circumstances.
Your ability to get an expungement can depend on the specifics of your arrest and conviction and laws in your state. If you’re interested in expungement, speak to an attorney who can help you understand the process where you live, and what an expungement will and won’t do.
A DUI conviction will change your life, that’s true, but you also have the control to determine your path moving forward from that.