Can a DUI have that much of an impact on your career as an entrepreneur?

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When you are running a business all by yourself, there are many things at stake, but it does have many perks as well. For starters, you don’t need to answer to anyone but yourself, you can, more or less, make your own schedule, and you are at liberty to take as many creative risks as you want, provided they turn out to be profitable.

Unfortunately, sometimes, being the face of a business can have its disadvantages as well. Something as little as a DUI conviction can put your business at risk for many reasons. You will have to spend quite some time in court, hire a lawyer, as well as face the social stigma that a DUI brings.

You may think that one drink can’t have that much of an impact on your life, but if you exceed the 0.08 percent BAC, which is  the legal drinking limit in most states, your chances of getting a DUI are pretty high. If you are wondering what 0.08 means, it is usually the equivalent of a 5-ounce wine glass or a 12-ounce beer glass. So, with that being said, how exactly can your professional life be affected by drinking one too many glasses of wine?

Your reputation may be at stake

One of the most important traits of a successful entrepreneur is  having a good reputation. If you want to be perceived as a professional, your background must be as spotless as possible, and when you get a DUI, that may no longer be the case.

A great reputation will open the doors for many fruitful collaborations with vendors, clients, as well as business partners. If your business is known, at least on a local level, there is a chance that, if you got a DUI, or even worse, get involved in a car accident after drinking and driving, the local press will be all over you. Contrary to what some PR agents want you to think, bad publicity is almost never a good thing, especially in the business world.

A DUI conviction will not only affect your reputation as an entrepreneur, but it can also reflect on the reputation of your business. You may find it hard to hire employees or establish your business as an authority in the field, and that is not something you want to be dealing with.

You may get your driving privileges suspended or revoked

Contrary to what some people may believe, having a driver’s license is not a right, but a privilege. This means that, if you fail to respect the rules, your privileges may be suspended or completely revoked. A DUI conviction almost always drags with it at least a short-term driver’s license suspense. This means you need to rely on other transportation means to get to where you need, and when you are an entrepreneur, waiting for the bus or constantly having to look for a cab can waste your precious time.

Apart from wasting time, you will also need to follow a quite nerve-wracking procedure to get your license back if it was suspended or revoked. Time, money, nerves, they all will be at stake.

If you have to meet clients, go on business trips, or even drive from home to work every day, getting your license suspended or revoked will most likely cause you some trouble.

A DUI is going to cost you quite a lot

As an entrepreneur, most of your money probably goes into your business, but if you are charged with a DUI, you will need to  pull some money out of your pocket for various expenses.

If you have been put into jail, bail can cost you anywhere from $100 to $2,500, and you will probably also have to get your car back if there was no one with you that could drive it. This will add another $100 to $1,000 to your expenses.

Attorney fees will probably cost you the most, as their fee for a first DUI gets somewhere between $1,500 and $5,000. Apart from this, you will also have to pay a fine that can go as high as $2,000.

Last, but not least, additional charges, such as fees for time spent in jail, sentencing and probation, plus urine or drug tests which you also have to pay from your pocket.

Your insurance premiums will most likely increase

Besides the other financial consequences, a DUI will also increase your insurance premiums, usually for 3 years or more. This happens because a DUI makes you a liability and insurers will assume you will still be drinking and driving, causing an accident one day. This is why they see you as a business risk.

Keep in mind that, depending on the gravity of the situation, the insurance company also has the liberty to drop you as a client, although that usually happens after several issues.

Other factors that can influence how much your insurance premiums will increase if you have been convicted for a DUI are age, the number of previous convictions, as well as the time that passed from your previous DUI, if you had one. On top of that, you will also have to pay for an SR-22 insurance, or a DUI insurance, as it is called. You can start looking for cheap DUI insurance online, to get an idea of how much it costs.

But, despite what was mentioned above, the good news is that a DUI will not affect any business-related insurance.

You may have to neglect your business for a while

Given the fact that you will probably have to go to court, there is a big chance you won’t be able to dedicate all your time to running your business. You may also get community service time, which will also have an impact on your schedule, or even hurt your financial situation for a while, especially if you don’t have someone that can run your business in your absence.

If this happens to be your case, make sure you talk to someone close, who understands your business and can take care of things while you are gone. It probably won’t have to be for a long time, but when you are doing community service, you may not be able to stop every 10 minutes and go on conference calls with clients.

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