You’ve had too much to drink and then have gotten behind the wheel. While it is safe to say this isn’t the wisest decision you’ve ever made – hopefully no one was hurt – did you know that a DUI conviction can also impact your credit score?
That’s right, getting a DUI means more than points on your license, a fine, and maybe time in jail, it also means that it could be harder to get a credit card, a loan, insurance, and maybe a job. Still not convinced? Well, here are some ways a DUI negatively impacts your credit score.
It Can Drive You into Debt
For starters, you’ve been arrested and you might need to bail yourself out. This means that you’ll either need to take a cash advance from one of your credit cards or you will need to borrow money from a friend – which you’ll need to repay.
Not only this but your car insurance is likely to shoot up after your conviction and this means that you will need to scrimp and save just to make sure you have the proper coverage. Then there are the legal fees. In some cases, these can be $10,000 or more. As you can see the cost add up quickly after you have been arrested for a DUI.
You’ll Max Out Your Credit Cards
An unfortunate truth in modern American life is that most of us don’t have $400 to our name. What does this mean when an unexpected cost such as a DUI arrest happens? It means maxing out your credit cards to pay for the expenses – either through costly cash advances or through charges which you can’t afford to pay off.
Beyond this, you will have to pay to get your car out of impound and this often includes paying the towing cost. Then there are the potential property damages – either to your car or to someone else’s property. Before you know it, you will have maxed out your credit cards; this is called the ‘snowball effect’ and if you want to stay on top of your finances, then you don’t want this to happen to you.
Your Credit Score
While the best case is that you will have the money on hand to cover the expenses of a DUI arrest, the reality is that you probably won’t. This can have a massive impact on your credit score. As mentioned there are the costs associated with the arrest and fine but there are also unintended consequences such as losing time at work – which means you might be making less money to cover your expenses.
What does this mean for your credit score? Well, you are running up your balances and you don’t have the money to pay it down. Even if you can make the minimum monthly payments, your credit utilization is bound to shoot up and this means that your credit score will fall.
In some cases, the fall might just be a few points, as such the consequences – to your credit – are not major. However, if you have a borderline credit score, then you could end up losing 100 points or more.
This could have significant consequences as credit scores are used for just about everything these days. Adding insult to injury most of the algorithms used to determine credit scores look down on a rapid increase in credit utilization. As such, your credit could be impacted for years.
A DUI arrest and conviction is never a good thing. The best way to avoid one is to call an Uber or Lyft driver when you are drinking. This way you don’t ever have to worry about having to deal with something for the rest of your life.
However, if you do find yourself having to deal with a DUI, then you want to find ways to pay for the associated costs without ruining your credit. This could include borrowing money from your family or even paying for everything in cash – assuming you have the cash to do so.
One bit of good news when it comes to your credit and a DUI is that the arrest won’t show up on your credit score – at least for now. Yet credit scores are used for just about everything these and this means that the impact of a massive run-up in your credit utilization could take years to work out.
What’s the moral? Don’t drink and drive. This way you won’t need to sober up behind bars and your credit won’t end up in ruins.