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How to Recover from a DUI Conviction

On a daily basis, I speak with clients about DUI (driving under the influence) or DWAI (driving while ability impaired). In almost every case the client is concerned about how a conviction might affect their day-to-day life, and reasonably so: although DUI and DWAI convictions are rather common, they stick around for a long time.

In fact, if you’re convicted of a DUI or a DWAI, it stays on your record forever.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the end of the world. Let’s examine what your life may look like if you are convicted of a DUI or a DWAI, and how you can recover from a conviction.

Variations on the DUI/DWAI Theme

If you are convicted on a DUI or DWAI, you’ll be put on probation. Obviously, you must comply with the conditions of your probation or it will be revoked and you’ll face a potential jail sentence. Do not violate your probation.

Each county handles DUI convictions differently. In Boulder, you rarely are looking at jail on a first offense. On a second or subsequent offense, there is mandatory incarceration. However, if your prior was more than 5 years ago, the Court can give you an alternative sentence.

An alternative sentence can consist of a work release, ankle bracelet, work crew, or something of that sort.

In the State of Colorado, you must serve mandatory jail time on your second DUI or DWAI. You will also serve mandatory jail time if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is greater than 0.2—this is the law. Again, an alternative sentence may be available.

It boils down to this: if you have mandatory jail, you have to do it. There’s nothing any attorney can do to get you out of it. However, a good attorney can prepare and try to either minimize the sentence, get an alternative sentence, or both. Regardless of whether you go to jail, you’ll be on probation and it is very important that you honor the terms of your probation if you’re interested in minimizing the impact of the DUI or DWAI.

DUI/DWAI is on Your Record Forever

Unfortunately, a DUI or DWAI conviction will stay on your record forever. You may have noticed that when you go to the DMV and ask for your driving record, they give you a record that dates back six or seven years. This means that outside of that time frame, your DUI or DWAI won’t show up... but anyone is free to ask for a driving record that includes your entire driving history.

So what could this potentially mean for your future?

It means that, if someone does a background check on you, they will see that you were convicted with DUI or DWAI. They may see that your license was revoked because you took a chemical test and you were over the limit or you simply refused to take the test.

But the direct implications for your life may vary based on who you are and what you do for a living. I always tell my clients, “If you’re a car mechanic and you get a DUI on your record, it’s probably not a big deal. On the other hand, if you’re applying for a teaching job or operating a day care center (or any other sensitive area), a DUI conviction is more difficult to overcome.”

(I used to say that if you were running for president it would be difficult with a DUI conviction, but then George W. Bush was elected.)

As time passes, it will become easier and easier to manage your DUI or DWAI conviction. If it was recent (within the last 6-7 years) and you are searching for a job, I recommend getting documentation on your inpatient program (if you attended one) to show your potential employer that you took action to address the issue and demonstrate to them that the problem doesn’t exist anymore.

The most important thing you can do at this point is honor the conditions of your probation and make sure you do not get another DUI or DWAI.

If you’re currently dealing with a DUI or DWAI situation, let’s talk. Call us at 303-449-1873 to set up a free consultation and we can discuss a strategy to minimize the impact of a potential conviction.