Getting a DUI is more than just getting caught by police after having one too many (or even just one). Driving over the limit can set off a domino effect of consequences that you’ll have to deal with for the rest of your life, the worst of which may be the death of a passenger or pedestrian.
The legal limit in the U.S. is 0.08% blood alcohol concentration, which equals around four to five drinks. If the police stop you, and a field sobriety test or breath test shows that you’re on or over this blood alcohol content limit, they will consider you to be impaired. The immediate fallout is license suspension or a massive fine if you refuse a breath or blood test. But driving under the influence may also lead to the following:
You May Be Arrested
If police stop you for a suspected DUI, they may search your car. If they find probable cause to arrest you, they will take you to the local police station. There, police will book and cite you for the DUI (or other offenses like drug possession, if relevant). Getting arrested is a traumatizing experience, not only for you but for your family. And, if you cannot afford bail, you will stay in jail until your hearing.
An Arrest Is the First in a Long Line of Consequences
If you make bail after, you must go to court to answer the charges against you. This means taking time off work and potentially losing a day’s pay, not to mention the income you’ll lose if you cannot make bail at all. Furthermore, if you do not appear in court, it could lead to the judge issuing a bench warrant for your arrest.
If you appear in court and are convicted of a first offense misdemeanor, you may lose your license for a long time and pay a fine. But a DUI misdemeanor may also mean serving up to 12 months in jail and then facing years of probation. You may also need to get an IID (ignition interlock device) installed on your car for a specific period.
Losing your license can directly impact your ability to earn an income in the foreseeable future. For instance, if you travel a lot for work, you will need to rely on other means of transport. This may lead to lost wages, or you may even lose your job. If you have kids, someone else will have to pick them up from school. If there is a medical emergency, you will have to rely on someone else to drive you to the hospital or ER.
Far worse, if you drive under the influence and cause an accident that leads to the death of another person, you will likely go to prison for a long period. You will also need to pay restitution to the victim’s family.
Even More Consequences Await
Even if you don’t kill or harm anyone while driving drunk, you will face long-term consequences. If you lose your job because of the DUI charge, you will find it challenging to find another one. Many employers won’t even consider hiring someone charged with a DUI. Even if the job doesn’t require driving, an employer is likely to view a DUI charge as a lack of judgment and reliability on your part.
Another part of your life that will suffer because of a DUI is your personal relationships. Your friends and family may be disappointed in you to the extent that they break all ties with you. This often happens to drivers charged with multiple DUIs. In these cases, a driver may promise to never let it happen again, only to get another DUI a few weeks later. This situation causes intense relationship strain and communication breakdown, leading to separation.
Your mental health won’t escape consequences, either. It is tough to live with the consequences of a DUI. You may struggle to sleep because of the guilt and shame you experience. You may have mood swings because of anxiety over an upcoming court appearance. You may feel constantly scared, worrying about the outcome of the court appearance. Other people’s judgment and rejection of you can lead to social isolation and withdrawal. This will only make your emotional struggles worse.
Break the Cycle to Avoid the Worst Consequences
You can move on from one DUI if no one gets hurt because of your actions. Break the cycle immediately to avoid ending up in a situation where you may get another DUI. After seeking legal counsel and completing court-mandated probation periods, join a support group. This will help you identify the reasons you tend to want to drink and get behind the wheel. It will also allow you the time to take full responsibility for the DUI and commit to making a change.
Taking immediate action after getting a DUI can help you save your job and your relationships. It will also have a healing effect on your mental health.
Just Don’t Drink and Drive
The best way to avoid all consequences is to never drink and drive. There are so many alternatives to getting behind the wheel while impaired. You can rely on a designated driver. You could use public transport. You could also make use of ride-sharing services.
Drinking to the point of impairment affects not only your life but can end the lives of others. If you’re at a party or wedding where you’ve been drinking, don’t drive. A DUI is never going to be just another traffic violation. One decision can change your life forever and the lives of other innocent people.
If you grasp the cost of a DUI on your life and your future, it will be easier to stop yourself from getting in your car after drinking. It will also help you encourage safer choices for others. Drinking and driving is just not worth the risk of a DUI or, worse, the death of another person. Think first before you drink and drive.