DUI Ramifications in Florida

Everyone knows that you can be arrested for DUI and sent to jail. Most people know that there are fines and license suspensions that can be imposed. Some are aware that there are other conditions such as probation and mandatory community service work. Very few realize that there are consequences that stem from DUI arrests or convictions that can affect your job, your housing and every other aspect of your life for the rest of your life!

In Florida, DUI charges can never be expunged or sealed. It is also unlawful to receive “a withhold of adjudication” in a DUI case. The charge will remain on your record forever. It can be counted against you indefinitely.

This means whenever a criminal check is conducted, the charge will appear. These background checks can be conducted in consideration of employment, to determine admission into professional associations, for housing and home owner association approval and for insurance purposes.

Because there are so many unforeseen consequences that result from a DUI charge, it is important to understand all of the ramifications that can occur.

DUI and Background Checks

Almost everything you do or try to do these days involves a background check. Jobs screen employees before hiring them. Professional associations run criminal background checks before allowing you to hold a professional license. Schools run checks on parents who wish to volunteer. Even a next door neighbor can pull up your criminal history online for a fee! Having a DUI on your record can affect almost any aspect of your everyday life.

In Florida there is a process that allows for an individual to seal or expunge a criminal charge. To qualify for a sealing or expunging of the record a person must meet certain criteria. If it is met, only law enforcement would ever be able to find out about your charge.

But, when it comes to DUI, Florida has a law that expressly forbids the sealing or expunging of a DUI charge. This means even if you are found not guilty at trial, or if your charge is amended to a “wet reckless” or dismissed altogether it can never be removed. A person conducting a background check will always see that you were arrested for DUI.

In addition, a person cannot receive a “withhold” for a DUI charge. A withhold allows a person to say that they are not convicted of a crime, even if they plea guilty. For a DUI charge, the person must be adjudicated by the Court.

These laws that are in place make it impossible for you to escape your DUI. It will remain with you for the rest of your life. In some states, there is a limit as to how far back a potential employer or entity can check. Florida has no such limits.

Background checks are especially important for students who are applying for financial aid. Some colleges will suspend a student’s financial aid for a DUI charge. Or, even worse, suspend them from classes. This can be devastating for a college career.

Nursing students and students trying to enter positions in the medical field have the most difficult time with this type of charge. They can be denied entry into programs. If not denied, they can have severe restrictions placed on them equivalent to a second probation. The same goes for teachers or those who are trying to obtain employment with the elderly.

Even more devastating than denial of entry to a school program can be the loss of housing. Some home owner associations can have you evicted for a DUI charge. This means you can be forced to move as a result of a DUI.

If you are a member of the military, or if you are trying to become a member of the military, a DUI charge can get you thrown out, or prevent entry altogether. If you are allowed to remain in service, a DUI charge can affect your obtaining certain choice positions within your branch.

Many volunteer organizations will not allow your participation if you have a DUI charge. Elementary schools can elect to suspend or revoke your volunteer privileges for a DUI. Employers can reject your application for employment.

DUI charges can also affect those trying to obtain citizenship or those trying to obtain visas. This is not as common as some of the other ramifications, but it is always a possibility.

DUI charges remain on a Florida criminal history indefinitely. If you are in a position where your background is checked, you should contact a DUI attorney immediately to see if you have any options.   

DUI and Employment

In this competitive job market having a criminal record can disqualify you from many positions. It can cost you the initial job or a promotion. It is very important to understand the impact a DUI has on your current or potential employment.

Employers are getting more and more particular when it comes to background checks. A DUI can make the difference between whether your resume is accepted or placed in the trash. Some employers see DUIs as an as an indicator of substance abuse issues, even if that is not the case. This can make the difference between your getting the job – or not making the cut.

A DUI in your background can be especially devastating if you are trying to obtain a position where driving is necessary. A DUI can suspend your driving privilege. If driving is a necessary part of your job function, you would be unable to perform your job duties. In addition employers may have to pay higher insurance premiums for you if you drive company vehicles. Potential employers may be unwilling to do that.

Commercial drivers do not have the option of obtaining a hardship license. This means they can’t drive during the suspension period. Also, a DUI charge stays on their DAC which can be viewed by all potential employers when applying for commercial driving positions. Many employers will not employ a driver with a DUI charge on the DAC until proof of substance abuse counseling is obtained. This is true even if the charge is amended or if you are found not guilty.

If you hold a professional license, such as a nursing license, a DUI conviction can result in review or suspension of your professional license. This means you could actually lose your job over a DUI charge even if driving is not part of the job description. If you are not suspended, you could be required to take extra counseling over and above what is required in your criminal case.

There are several websites and magazines that list a person’s mugshot for public review. Some employers see this as negative publicity for the company and will let you go or refuse to hire you. Getting your photo removed from these sites can be expensive and/or impossible. Your photo can remain on these sites to be “Googled” indefinitely even without a conviction or background check.

DUIs may affect your employment in other ways. To get a full picture of how your DUI arrest can affect your employment you should contact your local attorney for a full consultation.

DUI and Insurance

The most expensive part of a DUI charge is the insurance. Insurance rates for a person with a DUI on their driving record can go up as much as five times the current rate. In addition to the normal coverage, you will be required to carry SR22. SR22 is not a policy itself but proof that you have additional coverage. “SR” stands for Safety & Responsibility. The “22” is the form number. This proof of coverage is very expensive but required in every state for those convicted of DUI. Normally you must carry the SR22 for five years following a conviction.

The insurance coverage must be in place whether you own your own vehicle or not. If you let the policy lapse, the DMV will suspend your license until the coverage is reinstated.

If you have a car that is leased or financed, you could be required to carry even more coverage than what is required by law. For example instead of $10,000/$20,000 limits, the finance company may require you to have limits of $100,000/$200,000. This is because the lender sees you as a higher risk. They need to make sure that their investment is protected. Failing to keep a car insured can result in its repossession.

If your child is a minor and is arrested for DUI the rates can be even higher. Some companies will not allow you to keep your child on the same policy. They will request a separate policy be issued. This can affect the rates of your other insurance coverage if you “bundle” your home, auto and life together.

If your DUI results in property damage or personal injury your insurance may not cover all of the damages. If there is an insurance lien or judgment entered against you as a result of your DUI, your driver’s license will remain suspended until the judgment is satisfied.

Insurance following a DUI is an expensive consequence that can last for years after the case is concluded. To determine how your rate will be affected you should contact your insurance representative.

All of these issues are unexpected consequences of a DUI charge. In order to protect yourself you should consult with the proper professional to discuss all of your options.