Even if you've never actually been through the criminal process, you probably know that a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia can result in fines, jail time, and a suspension of your driver's license. But these penalties are actually only the beginning. Most people don't know that these repercussions are only the criminal penalties that you could face, if you get convicted for DUI. Unfortunately, there are also lots of other kinds of penalties that you could find coming your way. In the legal field, we've started to call these other, sometimes almost hidden, costs of a conviction “collateral consequences.” However, many of them may not seem very “collateral” at all – they can be even more serious than the criminal sanctions that you faced right away, during the sentencing portion of your DUI case.
Like other crimes, DUIs have their own set of collateral consequences. One of them is a criminal history that you may have to disclose in certain situations. One of these situations is if you're applying to go to school, particularly for a professional program, like law or medicine. We dealt with how it impacts applications to law school and to sit for the bar exam here. Now, we'll talk about how it affects medical school applications.
Medical school application forms nearly always have a disclosure section, telling you to divulge your criminal history. While many people can swim right through this section, others can't, and have difficult decisions to make. “Should I divulge that DUI I got years ago? It might hurt my chances.”
The harsh truth is yes, it might hurt your chances. But covering it up will hurt your chances of following your dreams even more.
But before you come clean on everything, make sure you even have to. Look at that question prompt carefully! Some will ask you to disclose all of your criminal history, down to that parking ticket you got when you were sixteen. Others, however, only ask for convictions. If you weren't actually convicted, and the application form asks, “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” then your answer is “no.”
If you read the question closely, and realize that you'll have to disclose your old DUI, here are two reasons why you shouldn't hide the truth.
- Admissions committees are especially concerned with crimes of deceit, that took cold-blooded planning and a disregard for the rules. Like lying on your application. Disclosing your past DUI will almost certainly hurt you less than being discovered to have written a misleading application response.
- The Association of American Medical Colleges provides background screening services for many of the country's medical schools, and some of these schools also do their own screening, as well. These background checks are meant to find out if you haven't disclosed everything. If you're found to have lied on your application form, you could be denied admission, or even expelled from school after you've enrolled.
Don't let a DUI prevent you from following your passion and saving the lives of others. Call me at (404) 816-4440 and we'll figure out the best course of action for you.