It’s commonly known and understood that going to jail is bad. It is not a fun time, it is not a critically acclaimed Netflix show, and it is not something that anyone wants to experience firsthand unless it’s one of those swanky Swedish prisons with TVs in the cells. In the same obvious vein, the general public is pretty aware of crimes notorious for leading to prison time. Murder, armed robbery, assault, some white collar crimes, and — of course — driving under the influence can all end with someone behind bars for a significant amount of time.
That being said, people also tend to know (or think they know) that not every crime ends with prison, and even the bigger offenses may have some wiggle room. They mistakenly think that as long as they avoid incarceration, any penalties they face after conviction can only be so bad. Fines stink, but you’ll have freedom. After all, nothing’s worse than prison, right?
When it comes to something like DUIs, though, the hit your reputation takes can be almost as damaging as a prison sentence. There is way more to being convicted of a crime of any sort, DUIs or otherwise, than just fines and jail time. In fact, DUI convictions specifically have the ability to stain your name and affect almost every aspect of your life in ways you definitely don’t want to be blindsided by.
Can a DUI affect my ability to get student aid?
For example, let’s talk school and actually financing a four-year degree. No matter how traditional your educational path has been, you’re likely to at least consider some sort of aid. So, if you’ve been charged (or convicted) with a DUI and you’re thinking about going to school, making sure you’re still eligible for financial aid of any sort might actually make all the difference in getting you through the door.
The good news is the FAFSA doesn’t ask about or consider DUI convictions when determining eligibility. They used to care about DUIs that involved specifically drugs and other drug-related crimes, but they no longer do. If you have been convicted of a drug crime of some sort, apparently you do have to fill out an extra worksheet about it when you apply for aid, but it doesn’t affect your eligibility. Being actively behind bars for any reason limits your eligibility the most, but those limits lift whenever you’re released.
When it comes to private loans by schools or state loans, it’s a little bittersweet because there’s no definitive answer, because there’s no rule about what they “have” to accept or not. So, some institutions may offer you aid even with a DUI conviction like the FAFSA, some may actually help you while you’re still behind bars, and some might take one look at your record and move on to the next candidate. That’s why (in general, frankly) applying for as many programs as possible can be your best bet. We’d like to think educators would be all about providing opportunities for rehabilitation and career-building for people who have been through a bad rough patch, and many are! But they don’t have to be, so…some might not be great about it.
Lesser known consequences of DUI convictions are still serious
I mentioned before how a DUI conviction stains your reputation, and this is exactly how that stain affects your life way beyond any time behind bars or paying fines. This isn’t Game of Thrones; it’s not about protecting your own sacred family name from slander across the lands and there are no dragons (I checked). It’s about DUI convictions being public record and carrying a social connotation of recklessness, carelessness, and — yeah — stupidity.
So, every time you apply for a loan, a job, financial aid, housing, or ANYTHING that triggers a background check, you run the risk of those entities seeing that, jumping to their conclusions, and saying “sayonara!” No, of course it’s not fair. While a change in attitude may be happening very slowly amongst employers (who are apparently trying to consider more factors about an applicant’s situation if they have a DUI conviction), it is absolutely not universal, and it is absolutely not legally required. Even if you can get hired, you’re going to be limited in the roles you can take on, and this is still only for employment. There are a lot of opportunities for a conviction like that to bite you in the rear.
Aside from prison, aside from fines, aside from even complications getting a job or a loan, you could have to deal with:
- Increased insurance premiums
- Ignition interlock devices, required in Maryland for anyone convicted with a DUI
- Damage to your personal relationships, as even friends and family may not be understanding or supportive
- Civil lawsuits if the influenced driving resulted in an accident that hurt or killed someone else
- A long-term loss of your drivers’ license
This isn’t a list of “oh, you might or you might not deal with one of two of these things;” this is a list of “you can very much get every single consequence, including prison.” Remember how I mentioned Maryland taking DUIs seriously? Yeah, well, first offenders can get a year in prison, a $1,000 fine, or both. And then you get to add legal fees and the rest of that list on top, and then you remember all that is for the first conviction (because oh yes, it just gets worse from there). While courts can’t exactly decide that your wife must leave you or your job must fire you, consequences like that happen so often it’s in some random awesome attorney’s blog.
We don’t add consequences to our blog that we haven’t dealt with for clients before. More specifically, we don’t add consequences we don’t know how to defend against. When you’re in a situation like this, facing a possible DUI conviction, the best thing you can do for yourself and your freedom is trust someone like us to work for you. There are always defenses, no matter the situation, but they require experience, education, and finesse to tailor successfully to your specific case — and that, my friend, is exactly what us criminal defense attorneys have. Getting started and hiring the right representation as soon as you can puts you in the race with some necessary pep in your step.
Annapolis and Ellicott City residents trust our criminal defense attorneys here at Drew Cochran, Attorney at Law, because we have a proven record getting things done for those who hire us. No BS, no judgement, no bias — we just want you to be treated fairly, and whether this means getting the charges against you dropped entirely or simply reducing your penalties to something like an alcohol treatment program, we work tirelessly to try and make it happen. Our number is 410-271-1892 , and our contact form is ready to listen. Remember that you have the right to an attorney. Remember you have the right to a fair trial. Remember there’s no such thing as an impossible case.
And remember — Keep Calm, and Call Drew!