How a DUI Can Affect Your Job and Future Employment

Most states throughout the U.S. have very strict rules regarding driving under the influence (DUI) and the penalties can be harsh, even for first time offenders, including license suspension,  heavy fines and a criminal conviction which will stay on your record for many years. Anyone who is caught offending for a second time could be faced with a lengthy license suspension or even a term in jail if an injury or death took place as a result of driving under the influence.

The Effect of a DUI Conviction When Applying for a Job

Many employers do not have a strict policy on employing someone with a drunk driving conviction but when they receive applications for jobs and an applicant has a drunk driving conviction then his or her application may be put at the bottom or further down the pile. It really depends on the qualifications of the other candidates and the length of time that has passed since the conviction. When applying for a job in the private sector, you generally do not have to disclose a conviction if it was expunged. However, the conviction is still a strike or ‘prior’ when it comes to a repeat offense, and must not be concealed on any application for professional and government employment and licensing, security clearance and bonding. The employer and the licensing agency can then decide whether you are banned from employment or licensing or employment because of the conviction.

There is no law as such that prohibits employers from hiring people with drunk driving conviction on their record. However, many employers do not like to hire these individuals as their conviction could be an indication of addiction to alcohol. This by extension could imply the person could turn up late for work, miss days of work or even turn up intoxicated.

Under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers cannot discriminate against an applicant or employee who has a criminal record unless there is a genuine business reason for doing so. However, most states generally do not follow this federal law and it is only relevant for employment in the government sector.

In a few states, those convicted can apply for and get in their possession a certificate of rehabilitation. Some employers will not use a conviction against you if you have provided a certificate of rehabilitation.

Many employers will ask you to state whether you have a criminal conviction on application. There is no need to answer in the affirmative if your DWI charge did not lead to an actual conviction, but if you were convicted it is best to be honest as you are more likely to be sacked later on if it is found out that you lied. Employers may insist on a background check where your criminal history will be revealed whether the application asked you about it or not. Some jobs need security clearance and individuals with a record may not be eligible for a security clearance.

Depending on the state, you will be able to expunge your records legally after a prescribed number of years after a conviction and your offense will not then show up on a background check. The precise rules for expungement eligibility vary from state to state.

The Effect of a DUI Conviction When Already Employed

The effect if you are already employed depends on the seriousness of the conviction and the precise job that you are perform. Any conviction which results in you being confined to jail for a significant length of time such as would be the case for a second or third offense is likely to lead to you losing your job. Conversely, a first offense which results in a fine and other minimal penalties that do not affect the way you do your job, then you may find your employer more lenient. Certain employers have a more exacting attitude towards DUI convictions and may impose specific conditions such as probation or lead to termination of your employment.

Health Professionals

If you are employed as a nurse, a single DUI can have a serious effect on your license. This could involve probation with terms and conditions attached, which often includes abstaining from alcohol and drug use.  Body fluid testing may take place at random and compulsory attendance at Alcoholics Anonymous meetings is a requirement if you wish to remain in your career. For a doctor, a single felony drunk driving charge, or more than one misdemeanor, may affect the physician’s license which could lead to some form of discipline.  Additionally, DUIs can sometimes affect the healthcare professional’s ability to be a MediCare or MediCal approved provider.

Insurance and Real Estate Industries

People who work in the insurance and real estate fields have been penalized for a DUI by the relevant government department as it is believed that their judgment could be affected. The revoking of licenses has often taken place as a result which basically means that the offender can no longer work in the particular job.

Employed as a Driver

Anyone who is convicted of a DUI and drives for a living will not be able to cover up the incident as the DMV periodically sends out up to date information about driving records to employers. If it is revealed that a driver has a conviction then firing could be a distinct possibility. Having a potentially dangerous driver on the road is one thing but the employer’s insurer would be reluctant to insure a driver with a drunk driving record. However, some employers have a waiting period and once 5 years is up and you have avoided trouble then you may be offered a driving job.

At-Will Employment

The concept behind at-will employment becomes important for these cases because it allows the employer to fire an employee under circumstances that can arise when an employee is arrested for drunk driving. Federal laws offer protection from discrimination for certain job candidates based on previous convictions. However, once an employee is hired the employer can use his discretion and can fire an employee for a further arrest or conviction. Employees who are working with an employment contract may also be fired if the conditions of the job are that the employee has to avoid a criminal arrest and conviction.

Orange County and Riverside Attorneys

Those facing charges in Orange County or Riverside may contact my office for a free case evaluation. Our attorneys have decades of combined experience having represented more than 5,000 defendants. Call (888) 250-2865 to obtain a free case evaluation from one of our skilled attorneys and find out how we can help you get through this.