How Will a DUI Affect My Job

It seems that every other week brings a news story about a police officer arrested for a DUI. Yet you don’t have to be in law enforcement to find your career in shambles after an impaired driving charge, even if that charge doesn’t lead to a conviction. One of the many questions people ask upon receiving a DUI is, “how will a DUI affect my job?”



An employer may opt to conduct a background check on current or prospective employees for a variety of reasons. There are approximately 20 types of information that can show up in a background check, such as vehicle registrations, character references, driving records, and of course, criminal and court records. In many instances, employers have even turned to social media to uncover dirt about current and prospective employees. Depending on how thorough the background check is, or how far their social media search expands, it may reveal a DUI charge or conviction. Whether such an offense is grounds for termination may depend on your company’s written policies and state laws. Many employers state in their handbooks that such a conviction is sufficient to fire an employee. If your place of employment has such a policy, you may lose your job.


Try as you might to keep your professional life separate from your personal life, there are some instances where this is impossible.In many careers, such as lawyers, nurses, and even plumbers, licensed individuals must disclose any arrests to your licensing agency. Depending on your state and the agency, revealing a DUI or DWI charge could result in the loss of your license. Loss of license means loss of job in that case. Similarly, people with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) may face the end of their career, as a DUI conviction will remain on their commercial driving record for 55 years.  Those with a CDL do not even need to be charged or found guilty.  They can lose their career simply by having Washington Department of Licensing making a finding against them as part of an administrative hearing which is why you should contact a lawyer when you have even been processed for a DUI because DOL could already be steps to revoke your license and you ONLY have 7 days from arrest to request that hearing.


Most states allow employers to deny employment to any prospective employees who have a conviction, with some places going so far as to allow for a denial based solely on an arrest record. Fortunately, some states allow employees to apply for a rehabilitation certificate that can be used to remove limitations on finding employment. While several states don’t allow employers to inquire about arrests on an application, most do, including Washington State.


The college application may seem simple. That is until you get to this particularly pointed question:

“Have you ever been charged with or convicted of or pled guilty or nolo contendere to a crime other than a minor traffic offense, or are there any criminal charges now pending against you?”

Those who mark yes, even if they have never been convicted of a crime, may face additional scrutiny. Not only may a DUI reduce the likelihood of being accepted into that place of higher education, but it can also make paying for it much more difficult. Financial aid programs often place restrictions on anyone who has had a brush with the law, including completion of a treatment or rehabilitation program for anyone who experienced a DUI.


Any days spent in jail or time held up in appointments, court appearances, treatment, or other legal-related activities could lead to hours of uncompensated work. At best, you could be hit with absenteeism. At worst, you can be fired for not fulfilling your work obligations. Never mind the embarrassment of explaining why you’re suddenly out of work so often.


Even if you don’t lose your driver’s license with a DUI conviction, there’s a good chance you’ll lose your insurance. Many insurance companies will not cover anyone with a DUI or DWI. If your job requires you to drive, your employer may have no choice but to terminate you in this case. If you’re covered by company insurance for operating a vehicle or heavy equipment, your employer may lose coverage if they continue to employ you. Even if the insurance company does allow you to stay on, there’s a very high probability that insurance coverage for you will escalate. In that case, your employer will have to pay more just to keep you on board.


When convicted of a DUI, many people strive to be part of a diversion program. Structured as an alternative to incarceration for repeat offenders, diversion programs aren’t the right choice for everyone. While they provide the necessary framework for some people to get and remain sober, the consequences of being part of such a program may be too great to bear.

Washington State has some of the strictest regulations around its diversion program. Not only must you adhere to numerous prerequisites just to join, but you also have to jump through a lot of hoops to stay enrolled. To participate, you must give up your right to a trial and to challenge evidence. You must pay for treatment out-of-pocket, and you must comply with many court requirements. If you’re found to have violated any of the mandates within the five years proceeding the deferred prosecution, the judge will enter a finding of guilt and you will face all the original penalties from the initial case. These restrictions alone make it difficult to adhere to a traditional work schedule.

The impact of a DUI on your career can be catastrophic. It is important that you consult with a DUI attorney who is familiar with all areas of DUI law before making any decisions.

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The legal information presented at this site should not be construed to be formal legal advice, nor the formation of a lawyer or attorney client relationship. Any results set forth herein are based upon the facts of that particular case and do not represent a promise or guarantee. Please contact an attorney for a consultation on your particular matter. The Supreme Court of Washington does not recognize certification of specialties in the practice of law and the certificate, award or recognition is not a requirement to practice law in the state.



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