Each year, Florida law enforcement officials charge more than 40,000 drivers for driving under the influence (DUI). Individuals who are convicted face harsh penalties, especially if they are repeat offenders. In addition to fines, community service, and probation, offenders will likely have to attend a substance abuse program and might even have to serve a jail sentence of days, months, or years, depending on the specific circumstances of the case. Although many individuals are aware of the formal consequences associated with a DUI conviction, they often fail to understand the collateral consequences of such a conviction.
DUI convictions have serious consequences beyond court fines, jail time, and mandatory programs. Some offenders might lose their jobs, damage family relationships, and irreparably harm their reputation within the community. Collateral consequences for those who are underage and those who are members of the Armed Forces can impact the entire trajectory of their life.
If you live in South Florida and have been charged with a DUI, and you are underage and/or a member of the military, you need an experienced DUI defense attorney to advocate for your rights and aggressively fight your charges. Call the skilled DUI defense attorneys at Meldon Law at (954) 334-1276 for a free consultation and to discuss your charges. Below we discuss some of the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction that you might experience if you are underage or a member of the military.
Loss of Security Clearance
If you have had no prior DUI convictions and no history of excessive alcohol assumption, you might be lucky enough to keep your security clearance despite one DUI conviction. If you have already had alcohol-related incidents while in the military or have a prior history of one or more DUI convictions, you face the potential loss of your security clearance. As a member of the military, you must report any charges or arrests immediately to your supervisor. Failure to report a DUI often results in the automatic loss of security clearance. Losing your clearance doesn’t always mean you will be discharged, but it does mean that you will be limited to lower level jobs in the military, seriously hindering your potential for career progression.
Whether you are a military member or you have an entry-level position because you are young, a DUI conviction may potentially ruin your chances of promotion. Loss of security clearance because of a DUI might prevent promotion, but regardless of the formal procedures and requirements, employers and military superiors often view DUI convictions as a sign of irresponsibility and immaturity. Whether this bias is warranted, a DUI carries a stigma that signals to many that you are not capable of handling or do not deserve more responsibility.
Military DUI convictions often result in harsher penalties than civilian convictions; offenders might be tried in military court, which has stricter guidelines than Florida courts. In some cases, a DUI conviction will immediately trigger the military’s discharge process, especially for those training to be officers in the ROTC or another officer training program. A dishonorable discharge will not only end your military career, but it will carry over into civilian life and make it difficult to secure a civilian job. Potential employers will ask about your work history and will want to see your military record.
Inability to Join the Military
If you are convicted of DUI, you cannot officially join the military. The armed forces have a long history of excluding those with a history of substance abuse from service; however, there are some exceptions. If your DUI was not a felony, which means you didn’t cause property damage, injury, or death, and you haven’t had multiple DUI convictions, you might still be eligible to join the armed forces. You must have also completed all of the requirements of your sentence, including probation, jail time, and payment of all fines.
Denied Professional Licenses
An underage DUI conviction will seriously limit your career options. Many jobs require a state-issued professional license. If you already hold a professional license, you risk sanctions or the loss of your license. Examples of those who require a license are truck drivers, nurses, doctors, and teachers. If you want to become a lawyer, a police officer, or any other federal or state employee, an underage conviction might prohibit you from securing the license or approval that you need to hold such a position.
Denied Entrance to College or Grad School
Admission to college and graduate school is highly selective at many institutions. If you lie on your application and the admissions officers find out, you won’t be accepted, or if already enrolled, your program may kick you out. If you fill out your application honestly, schools may still choose to deny you admission. Institutions of higher learning typically make holistic decisions regarding admissions, especially at the graduate school level. If admissions officers are deciding between two candidates with equal qualifications, but one person has been convicted of DUI and the other has no criminal record, the applicant with the clean record will likely be accepted over the other applicant at highly selective institutions. An underage DUI conviction sends the signal that you might not be serious about your education and that you spend too much time partying, instead of attending classes and doing your work. You should retain an experienced DUI defense attorney to fight your charges to ensure your best chances of getting into the school of your choice.
Loss of Scholarships
If you are already enrolled at a college or university, you cannot lose any government-subsidized grants or loans due to a DUI conviction; however, if you are attending on a scholarship—whether athletic, academic, or for some other special talent—it’s highly likely that you will lose it following a DUI conviction. Organizations who hand out scholarships prefer to spend their money on serious students; as previously mentioned, a DUI sends the signal that you are not a serious student. A DUI conviction might also impact funding for graduate programs. If you are working as a teaching assistant or a research assistant, it’s possible that your department will pull your funding and cancel your tuition waiver following a DUI conviction.
Get the Legal Help You Need Today
When you are young, a DUI conviction can seriously impact your life path, whether you are attending college or in the military. You might think that you don’t need a lawyer to fight your charges, especially if it is your first offense. However, if you make the choice to represent yourself, you risk dimming your bright future. Let a skilled DUI defense attorney diligently pursue the best outcome for your situation. In some cases, your attorney might get your charges reduced or even dismissed. If you live in South Florida, call the experienced attorneys at Meldon Law today at (954) 334-1276, or contact us online, for a free consultation and to discuss the details of your case with a member of our legal team.