You just got a DUI ticket. Probably you’ve never been in trouble before. You’re not a criminal, right? Well, the good news is, it’s not the end of the world. But, if you’re a normal person, like me, subject to the laws of gravity, it might be surprising how a single misdemeanor DUI citation in Arizona can actually affect your future. You’re going to figure out fast what good lawyers do and why they are so important in this situation.

You probably can’t get it off your record. DUI is a crime, at least in Arizona, and if you’re convicted, there’s normally no way in Arizona, no matter how hard you try, to “expunge” your record. No can do. You get the three scarlet letters emblazoned, tattooed, on your proverbial chest. But ahmmm even before you’re convicted, just with the citation you got in your hand, almost anyone these days, including your boss, can find it on the internet in about five minutes. How long does it stay there? My answer is: as long as the tattoo: probably at least until global warming totally destroys the earth, or 20 years, whichever is sooner

You might have to check “the box” on job applications. Sorry, but these days, even on applications for unpaid internships, or Circle K clerks, employers like to ask if you’ve “ever” been convicted, or arrested, for any crime, including simple misdemeanors. How many years ago is “ever”? Take a look at that application you’ve got on your desk right now. Even if you were given a DUI ticket, and sent home by the cops in a cab, in Arizona you were technically “arrested.” And you already know you can’t get it off your record (See #1 above). So go figure.

News Flash: You might not be able to get that job you want. This should be obvious at this point. But while some employers might decide to not take you if you have a DUI, a lot of other employers can’t take you, even if they want to. Forget about the FBI. In Arizona, and almost everywhere else police and fire departments can’t hire you with a DUI. And even some libraries and schools, hospitals, day care centers have their hands tied: they can’t take you either, even to work as a janitor. And to add insult to injury, many employers these days, even the U.S. Army, can’t take you even if you’ve just been given a ticket, and the case is still in court.

You have to drive for your current job on Monday: You probably already figured this one out, too. In Arizona, you get your license suspended for at least 30 days for most misdemeanor dui tickets even if you win the case. Chances are, then, there’s gonna be a month you cannot drive at all, no matter what people tell you, and it might start within two weeks of your ticket. But what’s worse is if you are convicted, any car you drive must be equipped with a little white box you blow in to with a straw, called an“interlock ignition device.” It lasts at least six months. And if it couldn’t get any worse, Arizona recently changed the law, now making it impossible for you to legally drive a company vehicle while you have an interlock restriction for that year. Bummer. Maybe you simply won’t tell your boss.

You might have to tell your boss about your DUI ticket right away. Twice. Obviously, some employers have a rule that requires you to tell them right away. Check that 300 page employee handbook they gave you your first day. But, what’s worse, a lot worse, is if you’re let’s say a nurse, a teacher, a school coach, a school volunteer, or you name it, even in the military, you are not only required to tell your employer, but you might also have to tell to the people who gave you your professional license. You know who you are. Pull that little laminated card out of your wallet. And Check the 800 number on the back of your card with your license number on it. What the card doesn’t tell you , but the law does, is that if you fail to tell them, even if you didn’t know you had to, you could actually lose your license or have it restricted, just for that. This surprises a lot of people.

Now, if you are in a special situation, a simple DUI ticket in Arizona can also affect you in some special ways:

You could lose custody of your kids. As amazing as it seems, in Arizona, there’s actually a special law now that says if you are divorcing, and get convicted of misdemeanor DUI, there’s a presumption that you shouldn’t have full custody of your children.

Canada might not let you in. If you’re convicted of misdemeanor DUI, or sometimes even cited, and want to go to Canada, remember this: Canadian border officials now have a special law that says they won’t let you in the country, at all, even for a one day visit. Thousands of Americans get refused entrance to Canada every year because of this. But the good news is: Mexico will still take you.

Mi Amigo: If you’re not a U.S. Citizen: This one should be a no-brainer. What’s surprising is that a simple misdemeanor DUI ticket will normally not get you deported, by itself. It’s like the one crime you can commit these days and not get deported. But there’s other hidden traps for immigrants that are even worse. First, you will have to disclose it on any green card or visa, or citizenship application. And that’s not so cool, especially when you’re sitting there in your “ICE” interview , and have to explain that one to the ICE official, the one with the handcuffs on his belt, and your N-400 Application in his impatient hand. Second, if you’re one of the millions here illegally, hay mucho preoccupation. You know by now that in Arizona if you get convicted you will have to serve at least one day in jail. And you definitely know that they usually check your immigration record right when you check in to the jail. Andale Pues.

So you’re in college and doing well: Let’s say you want to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, teacher, engineer, accountant, psychologist, or if your grades aren’t stellar, maybe a real estate agent or mortgage salesman or athletic trainer. Good for you. The only problem is you have to apply for professional license (see number 7 above) to do that job, too. Yes, even athletic trainers need a license in Arizona these days. And you guessed it again, you’re getting good at this: A simple DUI citation of course has to be disclosed to the licensing folks on your application. So maybe want to be a truck driver you say. At least that’s what you told your parents.

Your new dream is to be a truck driver: Don’t make a down payment on an 18-wheeler quite yet. First, federal law makes it impossible for you to haul overland or commercially if you’re convicted of a DUI. Second, as a practical matter, no company is going to be able to insure you as a trucker, even if they want to.

What about“Discount” Insurance. No lizard is saving you 15% any time soon. Reality check: If your own insurance company even finds out about the ticket you just got, they are more than likely either gonna drop you or double or triple or quadruple your rates. They don’t care if you win the case. If you are on your parent’s insurance it’s even worse. This is where your bicycle or your bus pass will come in handy for the next couple years.

I got my medical marijuana card, so everything’s cool. Since there’s now a dispensary right next to my kid’s karate dojo, I got to add this: Hey stoners, they still pop you for driving while impaired by marijuana, even if you got the card. And even if the weed you just smoked is in a little labeled prescription bottle with your name on it. Even one bong hit can do it. Question: does your prescription bottle tell you how much to take? Like: “take three hits three times a day as needed”? Of course not. There’s special laws that apply for these cases.

I know I said “ten ways” but there’s lots of other little ways a simple DUI ticket can hurt you that you may not have thought about. It’s probably best to talk about it with a really smart lawyer as soon as you can. It’s less than a no-brainer. Of course, they’ll appoint you a public defender if you can’t afford a private lawyer in a case like this. And there’s a lot of good public defenders out there. But if you can afford one of us, most people in your situation look for the brightest and most effective private lawyer they can find and afford, and bring them on board right away, before things get out of hand. Or any further out of hand. I don’t blame you. If I were in your shoes I’d do the same. Toute suite. I’m not sure what “food for thought” actually is, but you’re smart to think about this and to do it now . What can a good lawyer do? A lot of things. The first trick is to find a really good lawyer. Good lawyers are honest, in high demand, and have a proven track record of winning. They’ve usually got both a bunch of awards and consistently high ratings. They’re smart and likable. Their clients like them.The second trick is to have a really good lawyer explain what your situation is. A good lawyer, right from the get-go can guide you through the process, help you make good decisions, tell you if and how it’s possible to win, and help you do exactly that.

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Michael Harwin

About Michael Harwin

Michael’s skill and experience have been recognized repeatedly. He holds an A-V 5/5 preeminent rating by Martindale Hubbell. He has been named one of the top lawyers in Arizona by Southwest Superlawyers, and one of the best lawyers in Tucson by Tucson Lifestyle Magazine. He also has been named one of the best lawyers in the United States by BestofUS.com , and given the highest rating possible by AVVO, 10/10 Superb. Amazon Books