Recently on the DUI forum a user asked, “I made the mistake of going out a few weeks back and getting drunk and driving. I got arrested for driving under the influence (DUI). My wife and I are thinking about buying a house soon. I want to know if the DUI arrest and possible conviction can lower my credit score and make it difficult for me to purchase a new home.”
After a DUI arrest
Getting arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) can have some very serious ramifications, and you are wise to be concerned about how it could affect your future. Many drivers simply plead guilty to the DUI without any thought to the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction.
With that said, the first thing you need to do is talk to a DUI lawyer and discuss what you should do about the DUI arrest and possible DUI charges. Review the DUI evidence the state has gathered against you and determine if it is better to try to fight the charges or to negotiate some type of plea agreement. Remember, whatever you decide, most DUI convictions cannot be expunged from your driving record.
What is my credit score?
Now, you specifically asked about your credit score. Your credit score is a calculated number which is derived from a variety of factors, including your debt to income ratio, your past credit history, your outstanding debt, and other factors (i.e., whether you’ve filed bankruptcy, have liens against your property or whether a creditor has initiated foreclosure proceeding against you). The higher your number, the more likely you are to be a safe credit risk for lenders.
Will my DUI affect my credit score?
The good news is a DUI conviction does not appear on your credit report. This does not mean, however, that someone who performs a background check cannot find information about the DUI conviction. In fact, in many states, the DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record forever and is considered public record.
It does mean, however, that if the creditor is specifically interested in your credit worthiness and whether or not you are a good credit risk they may not care about your DUI conviction as long as you have a high credit score.
DUI conviction and outstanding judgments and fines
While your DUI conviction will not be directly reported to the credit bureaus, this does not mean that a DUI cannot be financially devastating for you, and potentially create a financial hardship which could eventually have a negative impact on your credit score.
Let me explain.
First, a DUI conviction can be VERY expensive costing thousands of dollars in fines, penalties, and legal fees. If at any point after the DUI conviction you fail to pay all of the fees, the state will send the nonpayment information to the reporting agencies, potentially lowering your credit score.
Additionally, if your DUI driving actions injured another person and the injured party decides to file a civil lawsuit against you, you may also have to pay additional penalties. If the court rules in the plaintiffs favor and you fail to make payment to the injured party, this judgment is also reported to the credit agencies.
Finally, don’t forget about the negative impact a DUI conviction may have on your ability to work certain jobs and the increased costs for car insurance.
While the DUI conviction itself may not be reported to the credit agencies this does not mean that a DUI may not eventually cause severe financial hardship, including difficulty finding employment, potential DUI lawsuits, increased insurance premiums, and fines and penalties.
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