Most people are aware of the fact that South Carolina courts often impose significant sentences upon people who are convicted of drunk driving. In fact, even a first-time DUI can result in up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000. That being said, most first-time offenders are not sentenced to these maximums and often avoid jail time completely by entering into an agreement through which they are placed on probation and must comply with certain court-ordered conditions.
If you are currently facing a DUI case and have been told that you will likely be able to avoid jail time, you may be feeling relieved and ready to take whatever deal the prosecution offers. It is important to consider, however, that any plea agreement that results in a conviction on your record can have significant collateral consequences—repercussions that have nothing to do with those imposed by the court. In many cases, these collateral consequences arise years after a DUI case has concluded, often resulting in significant embarrassment for individuals who have long since moved on with their lives.
Examples of the Potential Collateral Consequences of a DUI
Here are some of the ways a DUI conviction could adversely affect your life:
- Difficulty Getting a Job –More and more employers are making a background check a standard part of the hiring process. If your background check indicates that you have gotten a DUI, it may negatively affect your chances of getting hired, as many employers are hesitant to hire anyone that may have had an issue with drugs or alcohol.
- Consequences at Work –Even people who currently have a job can suffer collateral consequences from a DUI. South Carolina is an at-will employment state, meaning that either party can terminate the employer-employee relationship at any time and for any reason. To many employers, a DUI conviction would be a sufficient reason to let an employee go.
- Sanctions Imposed by Your School –Many colleges and universities have student codes of conduct that prohibit students from engaging in illegal activities. A DUI conviction could result in your school imposing sanctions, including placing you on probation, drug and alcohol screening, counseling, suspension, or even expulsion.
These are just a few examples of the way that a DUI can cause problems in your life unrelated to the consequences imposed by the court. Fortunately, in some cases, a lawyer can help mitigate the long-term effects of a DUI by negotiating a plea bargain with favorable terms or helping defendants get into a diversionary program that, if successfully completed, avoids a conviction entirely.
Call Us Today to Schedule a Free Case Evaluation with a DUI Defense Lawyer in Columbia
A DUI conviction can have an impact on your life for years to come in many unforeseen ways. For this reason, it is critical to retain a lawyer as soon as you can after a DUI arrest. Attorney Lori Murray is a former prosecutor who has devoted her career to defending the rights of the accused and is committed to resolving each case she handles as favorably as possible. To schedule a free case evaluation with Ms. Murray, call our office today at 803-779-4472 or send us an email through our online contact form.