Whether you are graduating from high school or college, there are plenty of reasons to celebrate! Unfortunately, underage drinking and DUI charges can rob you of nearly all of them. A DUI conviction can have a lasting impact on the future you’ve worked so hard to prepare for. Celebrate, but keep these considerations in mind before you get behind the wheel.
- DENIED College or Graduate School Admissions: Most colleges and universities ask about criminal convictions. Many will deny enrollment to students who carry a DUI or drug conviction.
- DENIED Financial Aid and Scholarships: Most Federal programs will deny aidto students who have had a felony DUI conviction or a drug conviction of any severity level. Often, even an arrest without a conviction for any offense will severely hinder your chances at receiving any type of scholarship.
- Special Scholarships– There are scholarships available for students trying to make a fresh start after a DUI conviction. These options, however, are limited. There is no guarantee they will be able to save your college career.
- DENIED Professional School Admissions: post-graduate schools for professional occupations such as medical, pharmacy, and law school will often deny admission to applicants with a DUI or criminal conviction.
FUTURE EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES
- HESITANT Employers– Applicants with a DUI conviction might be considered a risk around vehicles or machinery. Many times an employer’s insurance will go up if they hire someone with a DUI, felony, or drug conviction. So, employers might be hesitant to hire you if you have a criminal conviction.
- DENIED Licensing– A DUI conviction in some fields can mean loss or denial of license to practice, which can spell the end of a career before it even begins for new graduates. If you want to go into teaching, most states (including Georgia) will not allow you to be a certified schoolteacher if you have a DUI on your record. Furthermore, if you are already in a profession, you face possible loss of certification and ability to work in your field – a schoolteacher in Georgia will almost certainly lose his or her job and face a high risk of losing teaching certificates.
- INCREASED Insurance Rates– An employee with a DUI conviction equals higher rates for business owners. If you are planning on owning your own business, you aren’t exempt from those increased rates due to the view that employees and business owners with a DUI record are a higher risk to the company.
A NOTE REGARDING AUTO INSURANCE: If you do not lose your auto insurance completely, your auto insurance rates will skyrocket if convicted of a DUI. Most companies “look back” 5-7 years into your record and will increase your rates during that time period–easily costing you an average of 10 to 15 thousand dollars in increased premiums (or more) over time.
TOO MUCH TO RISK
With all of this at stake, the risk is far too high, not to mention that you could seriously injure or kill someone if you drink and drive. So, as you celebrate this tremendous milestone, be sure to celebrate responsibly. You, our graduates, have a bright future ahead of you, and there is far too much to look forward to in life to risk losing it. The best possible choice is to avoid alcohol if you are underage, never get behind the wheel if you have been drinking, and stay far away from illegal drugs.
WE ARE HERE FOR YOU
If you find yourself faced with a DUI charge, there are some important steps that you can take to help keep your future bright:
- OFFER RESPECT BUT NOT MUCH ELSE – ALWAYS treat law enforcement officers with respect, and follow instructions. Do not give the officer any more information than is asked for.
- WRITE DOWN EVERYTHING – While the details are fresh in your mind, write down everything you can remember about the stop, even if it seems insignificant. Remember the “W’s”: Who, When, Where, and Why were you stopped. What tests did they do, and what did you tell the officer?
- KEEP A LOW PROFILE – Do not have anything posted of you online that you would not want the judge to see. Change your social media profiles to private if possible. Prosecutors will often dig deep into your online image to find incriminating photos and posts.
- FIND WITNESSES – Find friends and family members who saw you just before or after your arrest. Ask them to write down a description of what they know or saw that relates to the offense. Ask if they would be willing to testify on your behalf.
- HIRE AN EXPERIENCED ATTORNEY – Finding an experienced DUI lawyer can be the most defining decision of your case. Be sure you have an attorney who will listen and work with you to protect your future, and who has the experience necessary to get the best possible resolution for you.
Attorney Scott Brannen, and his team at The Brannen Law Office, P.C., has helped hundreds of individuals navigate the legal system, and find the best way to move into a promising future during and after a DUI charge. We can help. It is our hope that no one gets behind the wheel of a car intoxicated, but if you are facing a DUI charge, we will work tirelessly to defend against a DUI conviction and all of the implications that follow. Call our office today and let us help you!
We are proud of our area’s graduating seniors, and we want to see you succeed in whatever path you undertake. Congratulations, Seniors!