DUI comes with high personal cost

Published: Dec. 30, 2016 at 9:10 AM MST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2018 at 11:19 AM MST
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Tucson News Now - We are just hours away from New Year's Eve and unfortunately one of the biggest nights for drinking and driving.

Now one Tucson man has a warning for anyone who is thinking about drinking and driving this weekend.

Five years ago Alejandro Velasquez made the worst mistake of his life. On his 21st birthday he drove home after drinking all night.

"There was a car behind me. I didn't know it was a cop. He didn't have his lights on or anything, but he was riding very close so I remember thinking, 'Oh, I need to get away from him.' So that's what I tried to do and I made a wide turn and that's when he put his lights on me," Velasquez said.

Velasquez said because he was drunk and driving on a suspended license he got a punishment of two years in jail.

Three years later, he's out and thankful to have his life back. But with the holidays in full swing, Velasquez hopes his mistake doesn't become yours.

"I lost everything I had to start from scratch basically," he said.

If Velasquez's words don't make you think twice before getting behind the wheel after drinking, the fact that a DUI in Arizona could cost you around $10,000 might.

KOLD News also spoke one-on-one with two of the top DUI attorneys in southern Arizona.

Michael Harwin and Scott Redman tell us the price of a DUI for Tucson's top professions is steep. They broke down the different punishments you'll face depending on your job - if you're a teacher, nurse, service member at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base or a Raytheon employee.

In the military, base driving privileges are suspended upon arrest. A service member is at risk for separation (involuntary discharge) upon conviction. With an involuntary discharge, a service member loses their GI Bill benefits. If they are not separated from service, they generally are demoted.

For teachers and employees in the school system, their fingerprint clearance cards are restricted from driving upon DUI arrest. That's a major problem for bus drivers and anyone else that transports children. An arrest usually results in loss of their job. Teachers and other educators would have their fingerprint card suspended if the DUI involves an accident and charge of criminal damage.

Raytheon employees with security clearance must immediately self report the DUI. Although a single DUI doesn't generally result in suspension or loss of employment, it may be a problem if they have other negative marks on their personal/professional record. A second DUI likely would result in loss of clearance.

Nurses also have a duty to report a DUI to the state nursing board. The board will conduct an investigation of the nurse and closely examine the underlying facts of the DUI in light of the nurse's overall record. Again, a nurse isn't likely to lose their license as a result of a single DUI with no aggravating factors, but an investigation can lead to being placed on practice restrictions or probation with the board, or in very serious cases, suspension of a license.

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