A lot of people aren’t aware of the long-lasting consequences of drinking and driving. And when you have one too many drinks at the bar, you may not realize how intoxicated you are and likely won’t be thinking of anything other than getting home. But before you get yourself into a situation where you’re driving with a BAC that’s higher than it should be, consider how a DUI can seriously alter your life.

Criminal Charges

A DUI is considered a criminal offense. It gets charged as a misdemeanor or a felony, depending on whether someone else got hurt and whether you have several prior DUIs. A criminal charge carries consequences, such as fines, jail time, and probation.

Jail time can range from several months for a misdemeanor to years in prison for a felony. Fines for a misdemeanor are up to $1,000 while fines for a felony are often in the tens of thousands. Simply put, a DUI can put you behind bars and in debt for a very long time.

Loss of Rights & Licenses

Not only are you in danger of losing your freedom after a DUI, but you’re also in danger of losing some other rights. Felons lose the right to bear arms for the rest of their lives. This includes the right to apply for hunting or fishing licenses. In addition, a felon loses the right to serve in the army and serve on a jury and may lose the right to obtain or renew a private pilot’s license or to own a private aircraft.

Loss of Voting Rights

If your DUI gets charged as a felony, you will lose your voting rights for a period of time. The rules will depend on the state you live in. In California, a person who is currently serving a sentence in a state or federal prison or is in a county jail serving a state prison felony sentence or is on parole cannot vote or register to vote.

Difficulty Getting a Job or Housing

Most potential employers are legally allowed to ask if you’ve been convicted of a felony and are allowed to make a decision not to hire you if you have one on your record. Many employers conduct background checks on potential employees, in which felonies show up for seven years. Some jobs will be completely off limits. Landlords are also allowed to ask about your criminal convictions…and deny you if you have a felony.

It’s pretty easy to see that a DUI can have serious, devastating consequences. If you’ve already gotten charged with a DUI, find a DUI attorney right away. It could make a big difference in how much your life will be affected.