Charges of driving under the influence or other alcohol-related charges can be particularly worrisome. If convicted, then you face a jail sentence, fines, and license suspension, among other penalties and conditions of a sentencing order. But what some professionals and students alike may not consider at the time of their arrest, DUI convictions can have an impact on their professions, particularly if their career requires a professional license. If you are a professional or a student studying to practice in a field that requires a professional license, then you must do all you can to first, not get charged with a DUI, and second, in the case you are charged, do all you can to avoid or minimize a conviction. The latter requires contacting an experienced DUI attorney in Columbia, South Carolina. Read on to better understand the consequences of a DUI conviction and its potential impact on your professional life.
There are many professions in South Carolina specifically and in the United States generally that require professionals to obtain and maintain a professional license. Some of these professions include the following:
- Dental Hygienists
- Medical Examiners
- Engineer Surveyors
- Educational Professionals, such as Teachers
If you hold a license to conduct business in any one of the above professions, the State could suspend or revoke your license to practice or perform your work duties. In some instances, the charge itself is enough to induce license restrictions, at the minimum, while in other cases, a conviction is necessary. In some cases, a misdemeanor is enough to induce license restrictions, and in other cases, a felony conviction is needed.
For instance, if you’re a nurse, you must report any DUI charge, whether misdemeanor or felony. According to the South Carolina Board of Nursing, there are grounds for revocation, suspension, or other restriction or limitation on your license if you have “violated a federal, state, or local alcohol or drug law.” Further, a “conviction is not needed to provide misconduct under this paragraph.” Thus, the charge itself is enough to put the future of your nursing license into question.
As another example, a dentist license may be revoked for a conviction of a felony or controlled substance, and a plea of nolo contendere or forfeiture of bond are “equivalent to a conviction.” Thus, you must be convicted, or in the least forfeited bond or pled nolo contendere to the charge of DUI felony or other controlled substance charge.
OTHER WORK RELATED COLLATERAL CONSEQUENCES
Even if your profession does not require a license, you still have to get to your job. A DUI conviction could mean suspension of your driver license for a minimum of 6 months. There are other potential collateral consequences, too. Consider the following:
- Does your job require work-related travel by car?
- Does your job require a security clearance?
- Does your job require a fingerprint card?
- Does your job go by annual renewal contract for employment?
- Does your job require that you maintain a clean criminal and driving record?
Any of the above or other potential criteria, combined with a DUI charge and/or conviction, can have serious consequences for you professionally. You need an attorney to guide you through the process and to help you avoid or minimize a DUI conviction.
STUDENTS & DUI IMPLICATIONS
If you are a student, then a DUI charge and/or conviction also matters, particularly if you are studying for a career in one of the above professions. In addition to becoming potentially ineligible for issuance of a professional license in your particular field due to a DUI conviction on your record, you, as a student, have additional risks. Any employer, regardless of profession, who conducts a criminal background check and finds your DUI conviction may be reluctant to hire you. You could be deemed a risk, both financially (e.g., increase in insurance liability) and publicly (e.g., if disclosed and it harms the reputation of the company). But as a student, there are more immediate consequences, namely financial aid and the risk of losing it.
Student loans are sometimes affected by DUI convictions. If you are a student and have or are seeking federal loans, you may become ineligible with a DUI conviction. In South Carolina specifically, there are three scholarships that could be affected.
- LIFE Scholarship. The LIFE scholarship can provide up to $5,000 per year. In order to receive the scholarship, you must certify that you have never been convicted of a felony and have not been convicted of a second or subsequent alcohol or other drug-related misdemeanor offense within the past academic year. There are second chances, however, with respect to this scholarship. If (1) you have been adjudicated as a delinquent, convicted and or pled guilty or nolo contendere; and (2) were eligible for the LIFE Scholarship but for the conviction, then you may become eligible again after one full academic year from the date of the said adjudication, conviction or plea.
- Palmetto Fellows scholarship. The Palmetto Fellows scholarship can provide up to $7,500 per year for college funding. To obtain and maintain eligibility, you must certify that you have never been convicted of a felony or have not been convicted of a second or subsequent alcohol or other drug-related misdemeanor offense within the past academic year.
- HOPE Scholarship. The HOPE scholarship provides up to $2,800 for college funding for the first year of attendance for students who do not qualify for the LIFE or Palmetto Fellows scholarships but who have maintained at least a B average. To be eligible, you must certify that you have not been convicted of any felonies or have not been convicted of any second alcohol or other drug-related misdemeanor convictions within the past academic year.
These scholarships are important for students to complete their academic studies. Don’t pay the fine for a simple alcohol related offense, and don’t assume if charged with a DUI misdemeanor or felony that there’s no hope for you. At the Michael Jeffcoat Firm, we inspire hope with our experience, guidance and performance.
PROFESSIONAL, LEGAL ASSISTANCE
If you’ve been charged with a DUI in Columbia, South Carolina, and your professional license or future career is in jeopardy, you need to contact an experienced South Carolina DUI defense lawyer. A DUI attorney can investigate the arrest and put a strategy in place to avoid or minimize a conviction. Contact the Michael Jeffcoat Firm today to discuss the specifics of your case.