A DUI conviction will result in negative consequences for you, which vary depending on the state law where the conviction occurred and the circumstances underlying your arrest and conviction. In most cases, the court will fine you and order you to pay other fees and monetary penalties. Whether the conviction affects your ability to get a home loan primarily depends on your compliance with the court. Although criminal convictions are not part of your credit profile, unpaid fines, court fees and other monetary penalties can be reported as unpaid judgments on your credit history, negatively affecting your credit score.
Loan Background Checks
A home loan application requires that you disclose information to determine whether your financial condition and credit history qualifies you for the loan. The application will most likely include a section that requires you to disclose information related to any convictions for serious felonies such as fraud, tax evasion and money laundering. However, the request to disclose the foregoing information should not be interpreted as meaning the lender will conduct a criminal background check. Lenders typically limit home loan background checks to the major credit reporting agencies — TransUnion, Experian and Equifax to determine your credit score and credit profile. For example, the FHA does not include criminal records as part of an applicant's credit profile.
DUI Conviction Records
Criminal convictions are recorded in the court where the case was filed. Anyone with knowledge of your case can access the record from the court clerk's office; however, this typically requires a personal visit to the office. Contrary to popular belief, a publicly accessible nationwide database of criminal convictions does not exist. The only nationwide database of criminal convictions exists at the FBI's National Crime Information Center. Access to the database is limited to the FBI and other law enforcement agencies. Although some states keep a public database of criminal convictions, the process of collecting the data is not standardized and depends largely on what the county clerks report. It is unlikely that any lender will discover your DUI conviction record unless you disclose the courthouse where the conviction occurred.
Court Fines and Fees
The amount of fines, court fees and other monetary penalties for a DUI conviction depends on the state law and the severity of the offense. For example, in Texas a first-offense DUI conviction can incur a $2,000 fine plus an additional $1,000 to $2,000 in fees if your blood alcohol concentration reached 0.16% or higher. In California, the fine and fees for a first offense can exceed $4,000. The DUI fine you receive remains a matter of record only in your criminal case — unless you fail to pay. Courts are authorized to use the civil judgment collection process to collect unpaid fines. A common collection technique is to record an abstract of the judgment with the county recorder's office. It is from these records that credit reporting agencies find unpaid judgments.
Bail Bond Issues
If you posted a bail bond after your DUI arrest, your bail bondsman most likely required a bond lien to be recorded against your property as a condition of posting the bond. When you make all necessary court appearances, the bond is exonerated by the court and the bail bondsman should record a release of the bond lien. If the release is not recorded, your lender will discover the lien during the loan application process. Although the existence of the lien should not prevent you from obtaining a home loan, you will be required to have it released before final loan approval.
- Nolo: Qualifying for a Mortgage
- FHA News and Views: Do FHA Loans Require a Criminal Background Check?
- Keystone Bankers: FHA Loan Process
- LLRX.com: Features - Navigating the Maze of Criminal Records Retrieval - Updated
- DUI Attorney.com: Texas DWI Penalties Explained
- California Courts: Payment of Fines
Joe Stone is a freelance writer in California who has been writing professionally since 2005. His articles have been published on LIVESTRONG.COM, SFgate.com and Chron.com. He also has experience in background investigations and spent almost two decades in legal practice. Stone received his law degree from Southwestern University School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in philosophy from California State University, Los Angeles.