The criminal penalties for an arrest and conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), like fines, jail time, and a lengthy license suspension, can be harsh enough for most people. However, there are other – sometimes more serious – sanctions that a DUI conviction can lead to. These other penalties have become known as “collateral consequences,” and many people don't know about them because they often lie hidden until years after a conviction for a crime.
One of the collateral consequences of a DUI conviction is having a blemish on your criminal history. This can make it more difficult to do a lot of things that you want to do. Whenever you're filling out an application form, and the form asks whether you've ever been convicted of a crime, you know that disclosing your criminal background will hurt your chances of success. This can really be damaging if you're applying to a prestigious professional program, like medical or law school. We've already talked about the affect a DUI can have on a law school application. Here, we'll go over how it can affect an application for medical school.
When you're filling out an application form for medical school, you'll have two options to choose from when you come to the disclosure section, if you have a DUI on your criminal history: You can either answer truthfully, or hide the reality.
Concealing a troubled past is a very tempting thing to do. However, if your goal is to become a doctor, lying on your medical school application can be the worst thing you can do to realize that goal. The Association of American Medical Colleges provides a national background checking service for many of its participating schools. Many of these schools also do their own, independent, background checks to make sure your application is 100% truthful. These background checks will almost certainly find a DUI conviction or arrest, even if the charges were dropped later. If they find out that the information you put on your application was untrue, you could be denied admission, or even expelled from school if they don't find out until after you've enrolled.
Another reason to come clean on your application is that medical school admissions committees are more concerned with deliberate, and calculated, crimes of deceit, like fraud. These acts show a conscious disregard for the rules. Most DUIs don't fall into this category of crimes. Misrepresenting yourself on an application, however, can. Lying to cover up a past DUI could lead to far more trouble than it would have to simply admit to it.
Confessing to having a criminal background can still be a difficult thing to do. You might not even have to do it, though, depending on how the disclosure section of the application form is phrased. If it only asks for criminal convictions, and you were only charged for DUI, then you wouldn't have to disclose anything. Read the disclosure prompt carefully, and your response might become much simpler.
If you're facing DUI charges, and you intend on applying to medical school, call me and we'll try to prevent those DUI charges from turning into a DUI conviction: (404) 816-4440. If you already have a conviction on your record, there are still ways to minimize the damage.