While a DUI doesn’t show up directly on your credit report, there are financial ramifications that can have a catastrophic effect on your credit score and your finances. So, the next time you get behind the wheel, you’ll want to take the following information into account.
The simple fact that most DUI costs can be paid with a credit card make it easy to go into debt if you don’t have money stashed away for a rainy day. It all boils down to how much of a cushion you have.
DUI costs may include:
- Impound fees
- Criminal fines
- Alcohol education classes
- Ignition Interlock Device fees
- Increased insurance premiums
- Restitution for property damage
- Fees in lieu of community service
- Civil judgements against DUI defendants
Paying for a DUI
If you are convicted of DUI, you’ll be paying more for your auto insurance for the next three to five years. You could see your insurance rates double, triple, or even quadruple. If your credit takes a hit, your insurance rates could increase even more since insurance carriers often check credit when setting rates.
If your DUI involved a collision, you could be facing huge costs. You may have to pay restitution for property damage; for example, if you plowed into a parked vehicle. If someone was injured or killed, you could be sued in civil court and even hit with punitive damages. A DUI conviction can be financially devastating.
How a DUI Can Tank Credit
If you were arrested for DUI and you can afford to cover the costs, a conviction might not have any effect on your FICO score. However, for the less fortunate, a DUI can tank a credit score because:
- Using credit cards to pay thousands in fines, alcohol education tuition and other costs increase utilization ratio, which refers to the amount of available credit being used. By using up your available credit, your credit score takes a hit.
- Unpaid fines can get sent to collections, which stay on a credit report for seven years.
- Judgements show up on credit as a public record and can hurt a credit score.
In the short-term, a DUI conviction can affect your ability to keep your job, and get a new one. No job means no income to pay fines or credit card bills.
Even if you have a cushion to pay DUI-related fines and charges, a DUI will come up on criminal background checks. Meaning, an old DUI conviction can haunt you for years to come and have a negative impact on your career.