Perhaps you are a student at the University of North Carolina, and you are looking forward to starting a career after graduation. Unfortunately, on your way home from a weekend party, law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of driving while intoxicated (DWI). How will this affect your future plans, especially your career goals?

First things first

If this is your first DWI offense, an arrest can be especially frightening. When you have a blood alcohol concentration level of 0.08 percent or above, you are driving illegally in the state of North Carolina and face up to 24 hours in jail, a fine of up to $2,000 and license revocation for one year. The judge may also order 24 hours of community service.

The job search

If you have a DWI conviction on your record, you may find it difficult to get a job after you graduate. Employers routinely perform background checks on candidates, and when your DWI turns up, a recruiter may put your application aside in favor of a potential employee with a clean record.

Certification issues

A DWI conviction automatically prevents you from obtaining the certification or state licensing required for certain types of careers. Therefore, you will not be able to enter particular fields such as medicine, teaching or law.

Felony issues

If you are a habitual offender, or if your DWI caused an accident resulting in the death of another person, your misdemeanor becomes a felony, and all the penalties increase significantly. Worse yet, you will lose liberties you now take for granted. For example, you will lose your right to vote. Furthermore, you will not be able to obtain a passport.

Options for protecting your future

If law enforcement arrests you for driving while intoxicated, you may feel overwhelmed; after all, you suddenly realize that there is a great deal at stake including your hope to become a teacher. Remember that you have rights: Do not hesitate to pursue your legal options.