Implications of a DUI As a Criminal Offense

Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a dangerous offense that puts others at risk of severe injuries and death. This is why states impose penalties to discourage this type of behavior.

A DUI is considered a criminal offense and will show up on background checks performed by potential employers or landlords. This can impact your career and ability to obtain certain trade licenses. Learn more about the implications of a DUI as a criminal offense.

Loss of Driver’s License

Regardless of the state in which you live, a DUI conviction will result in losing your driver’s license. Typically, you will also have to undergo a treatment program as well. This can range from attending a few meetings to entering a residential rehab facility.

In most states, your first and sometimes second offense will be considered a misdemeanor. However, if you have a high BAC, cause serious injury or death to others or had children in the vehicle, you will likely be charged with a felony.

Having a criminal record for drunk driving will have long-term effects on your life. Employers, landlords and college admission committees will see your conviction on a background check. You may find yourself having trouble in your professional career and even denied opportunities due to your conviction.

Jail Time

Depending on the state, a conviction for DUI can result in jail time. This is generally only if the offender has prior convictions or if the offense involves certain aggravating factors, such as an accident that caused serious injury to another person or extensive property damage.

In addition, the judge will likely consider how many DUIs the driver has had in the past, their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at the time of the arrest, whether anyone was killed or injured in the incident, and any other factors that could be relevant. Having children in the vehicle can also aggravate the case and lead to harsher punishments.

Often, a good lawyer can convince the prosecutor to drop the charges or to agree to a plea bargain that reduces the amount of time one has to spend in jail. Having a BAC below the legal limit can also lessen the penalties.


Many people find that they can’t afford to pay the fines that can result from a DUI conviction. The severity of these fines can vary based on a number of factors, including the driver’s BAC and whether or not there was a child in the vehicle at the time of the arrest.

A DUI shows up on criminal background checks, and can be seen by prospective employers or landlords. As such, it’s a good idea to be prepared to explain the circumstances of your DUI charge when asked by a potential employer on a job application. This will decrease the chance of a hiring manager getting a one-sided view of your past record. A DUI can also prevent you from obtaining certain trade licenses and may cause a spike in your car insurance premiums.


In addition to fines, restitution is another way the court holds criminal defendants responsible for the damage they cause. Restitution is different from fines in that it compensates victims for their losses rather than punishing the defendant.

In some cases, DUIs result in a requirement to undergo an alcohol or drug treatment program that can last weeks or even months. This is particularly true if a person has multiple DUI convictions.

Having a DUI on a criminal record can make it difficult to find employment and secure housing, as landlords and employers will often run background checks to determine whether or not an applicant is suitable for the position. Victims may be asked to provide information regarding their losses and harm in a victim impact statement for consideration by the judge.


Many DUI offenses result in mandatory alcohol and drug treatment programs. These programs can include everything from attending a support group to entering an inpatient rehab facility. The type of program that you enroll in will depend on your unique circumstances and the results of a court-mandated evaluation.

A less extensive evaluation, known as screening, is usually done early in the process, before or soon after referral to intervention and/or treatment. Screening focuses on assessing the offender’s future risk for impaired driving and crash involvement and may incorporate personal information like employment status, physical health and current living situation.

Treatment options for first offenders with substance abuse issues often involve attending group counseling and/or participating in victim impact panels. These types of classes are designed to help attendees discover any underlying mental health conditions that can contribute to more serious alcohol use.