Driving under the influence (DUI) or operating while under the influence (OWI) convictions come with harsh penalties. If convicted, these criminal offenses can have both immediate and long reaching impacts.

Immediate impacts for DUI and OWI convictions can include fines, jail time, suspension of a driver's license and even installation of an ignition interlock device. Although many are aware of these negative consequences, few are aware of the impact a conviction can have on one's personal and work life.

The long lasting impact of a DUI/OWI conviction

A DUI or OWI conviction can affect one's personal and family life in many ways. First off, there's the cost of the DUI conviction. A recent MSN Money investigation found a typical drunk driving conviction costs around $10,000. The estimated cost includes bail, fines and fees as well as insurance increases, but does not include any serious property damage or injuries.

Insurance rates can be greatly impacted by the charge. Insurance experts note that a single DUI conviction can impact insurance rates for a minimum of three to five years. This can double, triple, or even quadruple the rate and may result in a classification of "high risk."

The financial impact can be staggering, but is only one concern. Additional concerns include the embarrassment associated with the publicity behind a DUI conviction and the difficulty finding rental housing. Landlords often require background checks prior to renting out housing units and may deny an application that contains a history of criminal convictions.

Transportation may also be difficult, since revocation or suspension of a driver's license is a common penalty associated with a conviction. The inability to drive for a period of time can impact both personal and professional obligations. Not being able to get to work could result in loss of a job.

In addition, finding employment can be more difficult with a DUI/OWI conviction. Just like rentals, employment applications often require either a background check or disclosure of any criminal convictions. In this tough economy, employers often receive multiple applications from qualified candidates and may bypass those with criminal convictions on record.

Because of the broad array of impacts associated with these convictions, it is important to take the initial DUI/OWI charges seriously. If you or a loved one is charged with a drunken driving offense, it is important to seek the counsel of an experienced DUI attorney to discuss your situation and better ensure your legal rights are protected. An experienced attorney may be able to help reduce the charges or even obtain a dismissal.