Every state differs in the penalties for a DUI offense. The average person spends a day or two in jail for a first offense DUI and in many cases can still drive to work via a work permit. Some argue that the penalties aren't harsh enough; others say the indirect penalties alone are enough to seriously damage an individual's life.
In Arizona, a person can receive up to 180 days in jail for a DUI along with a suspended license. In most cases, however, many actually serve no more than a few days and are even able to drive to and from work. Advocates against drunk driving argue that penalties for DUI offenders are too lenient and amount to a slap on the hand. Even adding in court fines and community service to the equation, some say, doesn't penalize drunk drivers enough.
Some argue that people focus too much on direct penalties associated with a DUI offense and fail to comprehend the collateral damage that stems from a DUI conviction.
Unsuspected Collateral Damage of a DUI
Many DUI offenders take note of the penalties listed under the law they could face. However, many fail to identify or comprehend the unforeseen consequences of a DUI including:
- Increased insurance rates: As soon as the auto insurance carrier finds out about a person's recent DUI conviction, the risk to insure that person increases exponentially. How much auto insurance rate increases will depend on each individual situation and previous driving record. In some cases, a person could pay $100 or more per month following a DUI conviction. The carrier could even cancel or refuse to renew the policy. Now an individual will have to look for new car insurance with a DUI conviction AND a cancellation-which will be even worse on the wallet.
- Required SR22 Form: By law an auto insurance company is required to submit an SR22 form to the DMV if a person they insure is convicted of a DUI. The SR22 is a form and essentially an agreement between the insurance carrier and the DMV that they will not only agree to insure a person with a DUI conviction but also notify the DMV if the offender cancels the policy for any reason. This closes the loophole for offenders to simply sign up for the insurance then later cancel to save a few bucks. SR22 insurance in Arizona is mandatory for three years so the costs for this type of high risk policy can really add up.
- Traveling out of the country: Another incidental consequence of a DUI conviction many fail to realize involves traveling outside the United States. In some cases, a person with a DUI conviction is banned from entering another country. For example, a DUI is a felony in Canada, and therefore an excludable offense under the Immigration Act. If a person has a conviction in the U.S. equal to a felony in Canada, they cannot enter the country, regardless of the date it happened.
- Unemployment: Many employers today perform criminal background checks for all potential employees before hiring them. Despite the qualifications of the applicant, some employers will not hesitate to deny employment to an individual with a DUI conviction. Each company has different policies on how far back they look into an individual's criminal record-some even go back as far as ten years. If a person receives a DUI conviction and is already employed, that person could face losing their job depending on the line of work. Some companies periodically run a driver's history report on their employees.
- Ignition Interlock Charge: In Arizona, a person convicted of even their first DUI offense is required to have an ignition interlock device installed on their vehicle for at least one year if authorized to drive. The cost and maintenance of the device is the sole responsibility of the offender. What many fail to realize are the collateral costs associated with this device. Installation costs and maintenance fees could easily end up costing $1000 or more.
Both direct and indirect costs associated with a DUI conviction can have a devastating effect on a person's life. If you or someone you know has been convicted or is currently facing a DUI, whether it's a first, second or third offense, contacting an experience DUI attorney in your area is vital.