Life After A DUI: Everyone Makes Mistakes, So Let’s Keep You Solvent

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By Benjamin Steele

Listen, I get it. Everyone really does make mistakes. Driving impaired is pretty high on the stupid scale — I mean, you probably should have stuck to doing unspeakable things to campus statues — but I’m not here to judge. You’re about to go through enough withering stares and admonishment, without me adding to the mix. So let’s focus on making plans, because life is about to get complicated.

Do I need to mention that I don’t endorse the riding of public art, drunken or otherwise? It’s unthinkable. I certainly wouldn’t dream of it, especially not the giant rocking horse in the theater and film department building.

Get Representation

I can’t stress this enough. That’s why it requires Shia. Even if the case against you is rock solid. Even if you threw up, made a slurring proposition to the cop and sang sad songs all the way to the drunk tank, getting representation for yourself will help.

Attorneys will be able to negotiate more effectively than you can, which could lessen the impact of even a guilty plea. They might even be able to build a case for a not guilty plea, or pick apart the science and procedures of your arrest.

They also may be able to help you lift your license suspension under certain conditions (such as installing an ignition interlock device). Legal repercussions include an immediate license suspension, but you may be able to lift it so that you can get to work. Keep in mind that depending on your state, refusing a breathalyzer test can increase your penalties and prevent you from reinstating your license.

It can be a tall order to hire an attorney, especially with the very real possibility of fines coming your way. But chances are you won’t regret the money spent if they can get you a deal.

Don’t Get Fired!

You’re gonna need time off, bucko, especially if you plan on fighting the charge. Court dates can be real frustrating, but the good news is you’ll likely have plenty of time to plan your work schedule. Do not forget to ask for those days off.

Start planning your transport immediately. It’s going to be at least a month before you’ll be able to reinstate your license, so that’s a month of public transit, carpooling, cycling, or whatever else you need to do to keep earning. If you get rides to work, don’t forget to be very gracious and offer to chip in for gas.

Now then, here’s the rub. Do you tell your boss?

Well, you aren’t required to disclose a DUI by law unless you drive for your job, or signed a contract to that effect. Some job applications will require a background check, in which case you’re likely at the HR manager’s mercy. But if you’re already employed, chances are you won’t have to tell your boss. On the other hand, if you’re worried about getting fired, one thing that’s pretty much guaranteed to get you the boot is lying if you’re asked about it directly. So while you may not be required to provide the information without prompting, if you are prompted, it’s best to fess up.

Insurance Is Going to Be a Nightmare

Yeah, sorry. There really isn’t much getting around this one. If you can get your driving privileges reinstated, CONGRATULATIONS!

You’re about to enter the wonderful world of high risk pool insurance rates!

The term you’ll be hearing a lot is SR-22, and it’s a tricky concept. SR-22 isn’t as much a type of insurance as it is a certificate of proof that you are insured as a high-risk driver. So shopping around for different SR-22 providers won’t help; you’ll want to look at companies willing to help you out as a high risk driver, because even after the legal consequences go away, you’re likely to bear the burden of that high-risk status for a long time.

You’re going to have to budget carefully for your new rates, but don’t be afraid to try and negotiate with your company. Agreeing to an interlock device that requires you to take a breathalyzer before your car starts or adding telematic tracking to your vehicle might get you some lower rates. Either way, it’s going to be tough to avoid at least some rate increase. You’ll want to live on the cheap for a while to help adjust to all these extra fees.

Don’t Do It Again!

Kind of a no-brainer, but it needs saying anyway: Apart from being dangerous, getting behind the wheel while under the influence again could land you with far more serious consequences. If you avoid jail the first time, you probably won’t the second. Depending on the timing, it might be upgraded to a felony charge. When and if you get your license back, good luck finding affordable insurance.

Getting through a DUI isn’t easy. For most of the process, you may feel like you’re in limbo, waiting on decisions that have everyday consequences on your life. Keep your sights set on the future, and keep a solid plan:

Lawyer up. Do that as early as possible, because navigating the complex court system yourself won’t be fun. Make plans to keep your daily schedule going. Whether you’re working, going to school, or both, surviving a DUI financially will depend on your ability to keep running your life. Start shopping around for insurance, and keep your nose clean.

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