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How Will My DUI Affect My Financial Aid, Scholarships and College Admission?

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A DUI/OVI is an odd sort of charge to have on your criminal record because the impact of the punishments it can carry really depends on your current stage of life and situation of the person charged. For example, there is a strong chance that an older multi-millionaire would not really care much about a driving suspension and maybe a thousand bucks in fines and charges. If the insurance gets too high, they have the option of taking taxis or Ubers. Charges are a little different for a younger crowd. For example, an 18-year-old high school senior with the same charge would likely suffer life-altering consequences. A DUI charge to a younger individual would likely result in them being unable to drive. There is a chance they would not be able to afford a car due to insurance costs. A lack of transportation likely narrows the job options that individual would be able to pursue even if the person could pay the fines and court costs.

Do Colleges Check My Criminal Background?

The individuals who are arguably most affected by a DUI or OVI charge are high school seniors looking towards college. This feeling is because a charge of a DUI/OVI comes from the criminal record it generates. An ever-increasing number of universities are including criminal record checks in their admissions processes – 66% to be exact according to a national survey. As if that is not bad enough, 55% use criminal records when making admission decisions. Finally, to make matters worse, the more prestigious and competitive the college, the more likely it is your record hurts your admission chances. To wit, 86% of private colleges use criminal record checks as do around 75% of 4-year institutions.

Unfortunately, even if your chosen college is not part of the 66% that utilize background checks, your chosen degree might look poorly on a charge. This fact is generally because certain professions have strict codes with regard to a criminal background and the college will not offer a spot to applicants with criminal histories. Unfortunately, the professions that have strict guidelines regarding criminal history also tend to be some of the most stable and high paying jobs. Medicine, law, criminology, policing and of course, almost anything government related, from diplomacy and trade to intelligence services will look very closely before allowing an individual with a DUI to enter their ranks.

Does My DUI Affect My Financial Aid?

Now, let’s assume the college does not mind and the program does not either. Unfortunately, that high school senior is not out of the woods yet. There is still the issue of money. Very few people make it through college without some sort of loan or scholarship and those generally require applications. Applications are used to determine a person’s character and general deserving nature of the financial aid. Lenders want someone who will pay them back and scholarship sponsors want people of good character. Because these lenders or sponsors want to be associated with well-natured students, a DUI/OVI is a black mark on your record.

Now, if you think you are clear because your college and local scholarships do not place much weight on a DUI, FASFA might. To apply for federal financial aid, you generally must fill out a “FAFSA” (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Whether or not you believe you will qualify for FASFA, chances are you will be required to fill it out. FAFSA will not mention DUI/OVI convictions; however, it does reference drug convictions. What that means is that if you are convicted of a DUI and it is solely for alcohol -i.e. no drugs were found in the vehicle, it is likely that your financial aid is not in jeopardy.

Be careful though because in cases where drugs are found in your car, or in a car in which you are a passenger, you may have something to fear. Remember first and foremost that officers must have probable cause to search a vehicle. If you are suspected of DUI and police officers find drugs in the vehicle, it is possible that the driver will be booked for a drug Driving Under the Influence and drug possession. The addition of a drug possession is that straw that breaks the camel’s back with regard to affecting your federal financial aid.

What About My Local Scholarships?

Local scholarship options are different because they are generally privately funded. Whether or not a DUI charge will affect a local scholarship is up to the discretion of the sponsoring party. The easiest thing to say is that if you never drive after having a drink, you are not likely to lose your local scholarship; however, exercise good judgment. Local scholarship requirements vary and are determined on a case by case basis so check your terms of scholarship in order to see how a criminal charge may play a role.

Effectively, the younger a person’s, the more they stand to lose on a conviction for DUI/OVI. In the event you or your child is charged with a DUI or OVI, you need to contact an Ohio attorney. A seasoned attorney may be able to have the charge reduced so that it is not marked as a DUI/OVI. We hope you never need us, but in the event, you are charged with any driving violation, give us a call!