Will A DUI Ruin My Career?
Even if you’ve only been convicted of a misdemeanor driving under the influence charge instead of a felony, your job prospects might be narrowed. Many employers ask whether you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony, and most who ask run background checks to help them find the right candidates. If your chosen career doesn’t involve much driving, handling sensitive material or dealing with children, your employer might understand about a DUI conviction. Just being arrested for a DUI won’t usually affect your job search.
Most states allow employers to ask about convictions, but not about arrests. However, some states have specific arrests employers can inquire about. For example, in Utah, applying for positions with access to medications requires you to disclose any drug arrests, even those without a conviction. You don’t have to volunteer information about a DUI arrest, and you should give information on convictions only if asked specifically during an interview or on a written application. You can also check with an attorney about getting a DUI conviction expunged from your record, which means you won’t have to acknowledge it as a conviction on employment applications. Employers for some positions tend to be more sensitive about DUIs than others. If you’re planning to work with children, such as a teacher or daycare provider, you might have trouble finding a job with a DUI conviction on your record. Positions that require driving, especially a company vehicle, could be a problem as well. These positions include bus drivers, truck drivers, delivery drivers and outside salespeople. Many companies that handle confidential information have a policy to hire no one with a criminal record, and you might have a hard time getting into the military or getting a government job after your DUI conviction. In addition to having a black mark on your record, getting a DUI can halt your job search in other ways.
You might lose your driver’s license for a period of time, which can leave you without reliable transportation to work. If you live in an area without adequate public transportation, this can hinder your ability to find a job. Relying on friends and family to get you back and forth can be a problem, as you won’t be in total control of whether you’re late to work or if you can make it to meetings outside the office. You also won’t have a driver’s license to provide to human resources to complete your hiring paperwork. Although you can usually get a state ID card, not being able to provide a valid driver’s license might raise red flags with hiring managers. If you aren’t applying for a DUI-sensitive job, prepare some responses in advance to help offset the damage done by a DUI conviction.
Although you don’t have to volunteer the information, don’t lie if asked directly about past convictions. A background check will likely disclose it, which makes you guilty of a DUI and lying. Disclosure of a DUI is unlikely to shock an experienced interviewer. Keep your explanation of the DUI short, and sound apologetic. Mention that it was a momentary lapse in judgment, and that you’ve learned your lesson. Follow up by giving the employer examples of some responsible actions you’ve taken, at work or in a volunteer setting, to let them know you are trying to make positive changes.
A first-time offender faces at least 10 days and up to 1 year in prison. In addition to jail time, First-time offenders are also required to participate in a substance abuse assessment and evaluation and follow all recommendations made from the assessment and evaluation. And those are only the consequences of the criminal case. A first time offender would also risk losing his driver’s license. The usual driver’s license revocation period for a first-time offender is 180 days. But if the license is a commercial license, the first-time offender will be disqualified from driving a commercial vehicle for at least one year if the driver commits a DUI while driving a commercial vehicle. Facing jail time, heavy fines, and the loss of a driver’s license may seem bad enough but it can be much, much worse. All these consequences are if you are arrested driving with a BAC over the legal limit of 0.05 but under 0.15. If you are arrested driving with a BAC of over 0.15, then you can be charged with an aggravated DUI. A first-time offender convicted of an aggravated DUI will be subject to the usual penalties and more. The first-time offender will be sentenced to at least one year of supervision and periodic alcohol testing, 480 hours of community service, and use of an ignition interlock device for at least 30 days. Even if you are not convicted of another offense, a DUI can still hurt you even after you’ve done your jail time and paid your fine. Because a DUI is a criminal matter, it can become part of your permanent criminal history. That means every time you apply for a job and a potential employer conducts a background check; the employer will know about your DUI and may not hire you because of your criminal history. In this difficult job market, a DUI on your criminal record can be a hard handicap to overcome. The simplest way to keep a DUI from ruining your life is to not to get one! But if you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, then an attorney can help you. An attorney can help a first-time offender understand what the charge means, what the consequences are, and how the criminal justice system works. An attorney can also help a first-time offender reach the most desirable end result of the criminal case. A lawyer can also keep a first-offense DUI from following you into the future. There are multiple ways to keep a DUI from becoming part of your permanent criminal history, such as diversion and expungement. An attorney can help you figure out what legal strategy best meets your needs and help you keep one past mistake from becoming a permanent black mark on your future. While losing your career is just one potential consequence, it is a very real possibility.
Here are ways being charged with a DUI can destroy your career.
• A suspended license: After being arrested for a DUI, your driver’s license will be suspended. The consequences of this are obvious if you drive for a living; but this can affect your job even if you do not have to drive while actually on the job. You will still need to get to work, and if you commute this will have a serious impact. The expense of taking a taxi or hiring a private driver is too exhaustive for most people, and taking public transportation can be unreliable. Your driver’s license might be essential to your job and if that is the case, your career can take a hit.
• Loss of insurance: In Utah, you may be eligible for a restricted license after a DUI conviction so that you can continue driving to and from work. But just because the authorities allow you to keep your license does not mean the insurance company will follow suit. Many insurance companies refuse to provide insurance to people after a DUI conviction. This is a major problem when you have to drive for your job and your employer’s insurance company refuses to insure you. And if your own insurance company refuses to insure you, you may still be off the road for some time while trying to find a new company. Either way, that insurance is going to be far more expensive than it was before the conviction.
• Possible firing: More and more employers are including mandatory firings for convictions of a crime in their employee handbooks. When they do, they often also make it mandatory that you report the arrest to them as soon as possible. If this is the case, even a minor DUI charge may have you leaving your job sooner than you had planned.
• Diversion programs: A diversion, or rehabilitative, program is something the courts may offer you to avoid going to jail. But in order to qualify for a diversion program you need to plead “guilty” or “no contest” to the crime, and the courts may make it mandatory that your employer is made aware of the situation. A case worker may even visit you at work. If your employer finds out and they have a mandatory firing policy, you could still lose your job even if you have managed to keep your license and avoid jail time.
• Loss of professional license: Many professions have licenses that workers in that field must hold in order to qualify for their careers. This is the case for lawyers, doctors, nurses, and accountants, to name just a few. One of the requirements of holding the license is that you must tell your employer immediately if you are convicted of a crime; and some agencies will even revoke your license. Again, this could result in the loss of your job.
• Missing work: Even if your employer decides to keep you on after a conviction, or even if they never find out about it, you will still be required to be present for court appearances. In addition, you may also be required to enroll in a substance abuse program, causing you to miss even more work. Missing all this time from work can cause problems, and you may be fired from your job just for this reason.
• Difficulty with future job applications: If you are fired from your current job after a DUI conviction, you will need to find new work. That conviction can cause problems here, too. Most applications ask if you have any arrests or convictions on your record and even when they do not, the potential employer may still be able to find out from public records or your driver’s license record, or by asking you why you left your last job.
• Difficulty getting education: Just as potential employers may not hire you if you have been convicted or arrested of a DUI, so too certain colleges and universities will not accept you. Applications for financial aid may also be turned down for the same reason. Some schools will still accept your application if you can prove that you have attended a treatment program, but not all will.
• Your commercial driver’s license: Due to the serious nature of DUI convictions, they stay on a commercial driver’s license for 55 years. If you need to drive for your career, there is a good possibility that you will simply need to find a new career.
There are many consequences that can come after being arrested or convicted of a DUI, and losing your job is one of them. It is serious, and it is something everyone needs to think of before getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks. You may be ineligible for some jobs entirely. Some professions will be forever out of your reach once you have a drunk driving conviction. Whether you’re working as a police officer to being a teacher or returning to college, your DUI will severely limit your options. Some professional associations will not license you if you have a DUI conviction. Your conviction is online forever. In today’s Internet-savvy climate, your record will follow you wherever you go. If your DUI appears in your local paper, online, or on any social media site, you can expect it to pop up anytime someone searches for you on the internet. Since every situation is different, the best way to protect your current job and your prospects is to avoid getting a DUI in the first place. If you already are being charged with driving drunk, you need a DUI attorney in Utah to help you avoid conviction and minimize the impact the situation will have on your personal and professional life.
So, what do you do if you’re pulled over and you’ve had a few here are some pieces of advice that seem to be universal:
• Stay calm: Police are looking to see if you are agitated, nervous or belligerent. Be polite and calm at all times.
• Open your window: It may be cold (or hot) out, but you need to clear the alcohol fumes. Plus, you will need to speak with the officer. Do it as quickly as you can.
• Get your license and registration ready: You don’t want them to see you fumbling or dropping things.
• Speak as little as possible: Look at them but point your mouth away from the officer’s face. If you are asked where you are coming from, if you’ve been drinking or how much you’ve had to drink, don’t answer. Say, politely, something like, “I have nothing to say.” If you say any more, you may slur your words, and they will smell your breath. If you admit you had dinner with friends, came from a bar or club, or were drinking, that evidence can and will be used against you.
• Refuse the field sobriety test: You don’t have to submit to the field tests they give, like walking in a straight line, touching your nose, etc. They don’t have to tell you that you can refuse. You can. Refuse. They’re subjective and even sober people can fail.
• Portable Breathalyzer: The advice I’ve found on taking the portable Breathalyzer is mixed. The majority seems to be against it, but you’ll be taken to the station if you refuse. If you decline, you might say something like, “I’d prefer to go to the station to be tested.”
• Blood versus breath: I’ve also seen mixed advice on choosing the blood test versus the Breathalyzer, if your state allows the choice (and you may have to ask if you have the choice). The blood tests are more accurate but samples can be retested. Breathalyzer results may be more easily challenged, but also give more false positives. In most states, refusing to be chemically tested is a crime in itself, so you may not want to refuse.
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