Drivers in West Virginia all know that they should not get behind the wheel when they are under the influence of alcohol. Not only does alcohol affect your ability to safely drive, but it can also lead to criminal charges.
It is illegal to drive when there is a noticeable difference in your skill because of chemical impairment. It is also illegal to drive if you are over the per se limit for your license type, regardless of whether that much alcohol affects your driving ability or not. Those accused of a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in Virginia could face jail time, fines and license suspension.
In addition to those significant criminal penalties, there are also three major secondary consequences that could affect someone’s life if they plead guilty to a DUI charge.
A criminal record
Whether you plead guilty or mount an unsuccessful defense, DUI charges are more than a mere traffic ticket. They will show up whenever an employer or a landlord performs a background check.
You can have a hard time continuing your education, securing financial aid or obtaining a good rental home because of your criminal record. You may also find yourself struggling to obtain career opportunities like promotions or new jobs because your criminal record holds you back.
Major insurance costs
Every insurance carrier assesses the premium you pay based on your personal characteristics and the coverage that you want. Those paying for motor vehicle liability insurance pay a higher premium when the insurance provider believes they pose a greater risk of causing a crash.
Drunk driving has a strong association with collisions, so premiums often significantly increase following a DUI conviction. Researchers estimate an average premium increase of 120% following a DUI conviction.
Even if you don’t talk about your DUI charges, word tends to get around when you don’t have a driver’s license or have an ignition interlock device in your vehicle after regaining your driving privileges. Your reputation and your local community could take a hit after a DUI conviction, and you might lose out on crucial professional networking opportunities.
Defending yourself against a DUI charge helps you avoid a criminal record, the loss of your license and the other penalties that result from impaired driving convictions.