VA DUI Facts and Hidden Costs
The ramifications of a DUI/DWI charge can be seemingly endless. Most people are familiar with the basic facts of potential incarceration and the loss of driving privileges. The list of less-obvious – but serious – hidden costs you will pay for a DUI conviction can be lengthy.
Below are just a few of the most common consequences you will be forced to face because of your DUI conviction. To understand what you are up against, and to mitigate any potential penalties you may face, contact a dedicated Virginia DUI attorney today.
Probation may be granted in-lieu of incarceration, allowing you to continue working and supporting yourself and any of your dependents. Probation, however, does not relieve you of the duty of paying fines or fees that may be ordered by the court. In addition, there are often strict rules and requirements that you must adhere to when you are granted probation. You will have to meet with a probation officer regularly and you may be subject to scheduled or random drug or alcohol testing.
If you are required to wear an alcohol monitoring device or to install an ignition interlock device on your vehicle, data is regularly transmitted from these devices to your probation officer which forms the basis for surprise sobriety tests or summons to immediately appear at the probation office or court. And most jurisdictions require that you cover the cost of installing the devices, though sometimes your attorney can argue for a waiver if your income is limited.
Jail Time and Criminal Fines
Depending on the circumstances of your DUI conviction, the penalties in Virginia can vary greatly. According to Virginia State Code Section 18.2-270, you can face up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $250 to $2,500, for a first conviction, and up to one to five years in prison and a fine of at least $1,000, if convicted of involuntary manslaughter or maiming as a result of driving under the influence.
If additional criminal charges are levied against you, those periods of incarceration and the fines can increase.
For example, if you are convicted of a DUI-related assault with your motor vehicle that results in injury to others, you may face an extra year behind bars and an additional $2,500 fine – per injured victim.
If you kill someone while driving drunk, involuntary manslaughter can land you in prison for up to five additional years and another fine of at least $1,000.
Second degree vehicular homicide is a particularly serious charge that is punishable by five to 40 years in prison. And if you’re found guilty of any felony DUI repeat offenses, your vehicle may be impounded.
Community service is work that is performed without pay for a nonprofit or civic organization. It is often a condition of DUI probation and/or part of a plea agreement. Sometimes, first-offenders can choose from a list of court-approved organizations for their community service, such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, YMCA, a local humane society, homeless shelter, or any other court-approved organization.
Defendants who are skilled professionals — such as doctors, plumbers, teachers, electricians, or mechanics — may be able to donate their skills to a local social service organization — such as a free clinic, Habitat for Humanity, or some other nonprofit. Again, the organization must be cleared and accepted by the court.
Lower Credit Rating
Your credit score can take a serious hit with a DUI conviction as a DUI conviction is viewed by my financial lending organizations as an indication that you are a high-risk investment. This, in turn, can lead to higher interest rates for loans, including a home loan or car loan, or outright rejection. You may also be unable to qualify for a rental agreement as a lower credit rating can make you seem as though you are an undesirable risk for landlords and property managers.
Loss of a Company Car
If your DUI causes you to lose your company vehicle; that translates into a loss of the financial savings represented by not having to own and maintain a vehicle. You also lose the savings of not having to insure that car as well. And if you drive a company-leased vehicle; virtually all reputable leasing or rental agencies prohibit customers with a DUI to drive any of their vehicles.
Revocation of your Driver’s License
Those convicted of DUI can lose their driving privileges for periods ranging from a few weeks to several months. Given the circumstances of your conviction, you could see your license permanently revoked. You can also lose your Commercial Driver’s License (CDL), which might endanger your job or career. If you have a military drivers’ license or other military base driving privileges you could lose those as well.
Increased Car Insurance Premiums and High Risk Insurance
Your auto insurance rates are destined to increase with any type of DUI conviction. If you lose your driving privileges and your car remains uninsured six months or more, once you are reinstated your rates will likely skyrocket. Your insurance carrier might decide to drop your coverage.
For those convicted of felony DUI charges, you will likely face the challenges of an assigned-risk (SR-22) insurance policy. These policies typically provide minimum coverage for double – even triple – your former rates.
Life Insurance companies may also view you as undesirable and, if you have such coverage already, may raise your rates or deny you coverage. If you previously qualified for a low-cost “preferred risk” premium you will no longer qualify for that benefit. Rates can also increase for DUI offenders who have individual health insurance policies. You could also face cancellation of your health insurance.
Restricted Entrance Into Foreign Countries
One hidden cost of a DUI that many people do not expect is the sudden restriction on your ability to travel internationally, which can affect your ability to do your work or see family depending on your circumstances. Canada is among several countries that generally does not allow people with DUI convictions to enter their country, although waivers can sometimes be secured. For information on that subject, you can visit the US Customs and Border Protection website here.
If you are a legal alien in the US and have a pending citizenship application, your application may be delayed for several years or rejected. If you are convicted of a felony DUI charge, such as vehicular manslaughter, you could face deportation. Work and travel visas can be placed in serious jeopardy. If you have a DUI conviction and no proper proof of current legal residency in the US, local law enforcement may turn you over to ICE (federal immigration invest) pickup.
Loss of Security Clearance
DUI convictions can seriously threaten your ability to qualify for a number of security clearances or, if you already have clearance, could jeopardize your current standing. That impacts those who work at military bases and other government sites or businesses that contract with the government for services and products, such as nuclear power plants and many defense-related product or service suppliers. Military service members may face sanctions or denial of on-base privileges and could face restrictions of their duties. If a pattern or illegal drinking continues, there is a risk of dishonorable discharge.
Ignition Interlock Systems
Virginia State Code Section 18.2-270.1 defines ignition interlock systems as devices that connect a motor vehicle ignition system to an analyzer that measures a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). The devices prevent a motor vehicle ignition from starting if a driver’s BAC exceeds .02 percent. They are also equipped with the ability to perform a rolling test and electronically log the driver’s BAC during ignition, attempted ignition, and rolling tests. Ignition Interlock systems are designed for habitual DUI offenders.
Having an interlock device installed in your vehicle is also costly. In addition to paying an initial installation fee most devices require a monthly maintenance fee. For more information on IIDs and other monitoring devices, click here.
Court-Ordered Alcohol Treatment
The judge may order some form of addiction treatment as a part of your sentence or probation. Or your lawyer may be able to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor prior to your trial for a lesser charge and based upon your willingness to undergo treatment.
Treatment costs vary widely and depend upon the type of treatment required, such as inpatient or outpatient treatment, and the facility. Many people cannot afford the exorbitant fees charged by many rehabilitation programs. Some facilities, however, may offer a sliding payment scale based on your income and ability to pay.
VASAP is the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program. By law, all individuals convicted of a DWI in the Commonwealth must complete the program. It begins with an initial intake evaluation where you are assigned a counselor. That counselor will discuss your prior record, your drinking behavior and a number of other factors that impact your risk status. Once that is determined, your counselor will develop a specific course of treatment.
You must comply with all program assignments and maintain contact with your counselor. Violations of any terms of the program can result in the imposition of some – or all – of your suspended jail time.
Endangering Future Employment
Many reputable companies have “morals clauses” that can result in immediate termination if you are convicted of crimes such as drunk driving. Investment brokers run the risk of having their business licenses revoked. Every time you apply for a job, you must check the “yes” box in your application regarding convictions. The same rule applies to professional license applications.
As such, issuers of such licenses can withhold or delay licensure or, in cases of serious felony DUI convictions, may initiate revocation proceedings – such as a State Bar or Medical Board.