Will A DUI Ruin My Life?
If you have been charged with a DUI, especially if it’s your first brush with the law, you are probably concerned about how it will affect your job, your family, and your future. In many instances, a DUI isn’t the death sentence it may feel like. To help you understand how a DUI may affect your life, here are legal answers to the most common questions people have after getting a DUI.
Am I going to jail?
This is easily the biggest question on most people’s minds after getting a DUI. While there are no guarantees and it depends on the details of your case, you often can avoid jail time with a DUI charge.
For example, a first-time DUI with no related injuries carries up to a year in jail, but a good attorney can negotiate a plea offer with the state where you’ll receive probation and an order to complete some classes rather than doing jail time. That being said, if you take your case to trial and are found guilty, a jury may give you jail time..
If you get a second DUI within 10 years of your first, it will be filed as a felony. Once this happens, your likelihood of spending time in jail goes up significantly, but again, a good attorney can most likely secure a plea deal that will give you probation rather than jail time. As with a first-time DUI, you could be sentenced to jail time if you are found guilty at a jury trial.
Once you have stacked up multiple DUIs, you’re more likely to spend some time in jail. The same can be said if you harm another individual while you are driving under the influence. A DUI that results in death or serious bodily injury will almost certainly require jail time.
Will I lose my job?
This question depends on a lot of factors, the biggest being what type of job you have. Ultimately, an employer can fire you for pending criminal charges if they choose to. However, most employers aren’t actively doing background searches on their current employees. If you complete your probation and obtain an expungement before your employer runs a new background check on you, they would never know the case happened.
Aside from background checks, many employment contracts, especially with government jobs, require that you notify your employer of either an arrest or a conviction. If this is stipulated in your employment contract and you are arrested for a DUI, then you are legally obligated to notify your employer of the charge. However, if your employer only requires that you notify them of a conviction, you may be able to obtain a deferred sentence and thus never have to report the DUI to your employer.
Keep in mind that it can be really hard to find a good employee and costly to train them. If your job doesn’t involve driving commercially, your employer may not care about your DUI. If your job requires that you drive regularly, whether it be as a long-haul trucker or a service professional such as an electrician, your employer is more likely to be concerned about a pending DUI.
Will I lose my license?
This really depends on your case, but typically your license will be suspended. The length of time on the suspension depends on a few factors, but predominantly depends on your prior DUI history. When your license is suspended you need to either enroll in the IDAP (Impaired Driving Accountability) program or appeal your license suspension. This is why hiring an attorney who understands both DPS (now Service Oklahoma) and the criminal court system is absolutely vital. Unlike under previous drivers license laws, you cannot simply wait out the suspension time frame. You must take action of some kind to get your license back, and you must ensure you do it perfectly.
When you lose your license, you lose your sense of liberty and your ability to function as normal. Oklahoma doesn’t have adequate public transportation, so you are forced to rely on ride shares or walking to get from point A to point B. This can be especially difficult in rural areas that may not have as many transportation options. A license suspension may not sound too bad at first, but it can leave you without a way to go to work or pick your kids up from school.
Will everyone know I got a DUI?
Anyone can access details about criminal cases on the Oklahoma State Courts Network (OSCN) with a simple search using a first and last name. Even if you received a deferred sentence and your case was removed from OSCN, people can still run a background search and find your arrest record, unless you have had it expunged.
If you are Native American and your case was filed in tribal court, you will have more privacy because tribal court records are not included on OSCN.
The Bottom Line
A DUI has the potential to seriously affect your life, especially if you hire an attorney who doesn’t know how to handle the charge. DUIs may seem like straightforward cases to some, but there are many lurking issues that you wouldn’t expect. If you have been charged with a DUI, we highly recommend hiring an attorney with extensive experience in DUI defense.