Getting arrested or convicted for DUI, driving under the influence, is an eye-opening experience that may change the course of your life as well as that of those you love. In addition to the myriad of problems associated with such a charge, having a DUI on your record may affect current and future employment opportunities. Here are five things to keep in mind when navigating this serious situation:
1) What Federal and State Laws Allow in Terms of Background Checks
Federal and most state laws make it impossible for companies to refuse to hire an applicant for a DUI alone (unless directly related to the applicant’s job, as addressed below). However, employers can dismiss employees if an arrest or conviction violates the terms of employment.
2) What if Your Job is Considered At-Will Employment?
Employers can terminate those employed in at-will jobs for any reason, at any time. A DUI arrest or conviction may be grounds for immediate termination. This might not seem like a big deal at first, but finding a new job will prove to be difficult when others contact your previous employers. Having this on your record is hard enough, and getting fired from your job adds to the seriousness of the situation. You may find that working jobs for less money or changing career paths for a time will be required to start working again.
3) Why Your Field of Expertise is Important
Those working in transportation may be terminated or have their functions altered to include activities that keep them away from operating vehicles following a DUI. Moreover, those working with young children, the elderly or the disabled may be terminated by their employers following a DUI, depending on state laws regarding employment in daycare centers, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers and the like. Jobs that require you to operate machinery or vehicles will be nearly impossible to keep after a DUI.
4) Suspended Licenses
A DUI arrest and conviction may result in your driver’s license being suspended or revoked. Even if you don’t work in a job that requires you to drive as part of your position, you may need your car to get to and from work. Obviously, arriving late for work, or being unable to get to work, will have a negative impact on employment and possibly lead to termination. This might require you to switch jobs to a more convenient location, which might not offer the pay or experience you are looking for.
5) DUI Classes
Many states require those convicted of DUI to attend DUI classes. Since the classes may only be offered at certain times, potentially during working hours, you may need to discuss your situation with your boss in order to attend these mandatory classes. Before mentioning a DUI to your current or future employer, be sure to speak with an experienced DUI lawyer.
Timely and experienced legal advice is essential to ensuring your present and future employment opportunities. In addition, you should consult a lawyer regarding having your record expunged following a DUI, considering that DUI convictions may stay on your record permanently. Be sure to consider all of the impacts a DUI will have on your career, both short term and long term.