Can a DUI Affect Your Employment?
In the current economic climate, being gainfully employed in your chosen career field and making the amount of money you need to support your lifestyle is nothing to take for granted. The amount of qualified candidates in today’s job market and the rigors of the pre-employment screening process can make getting even an entry-level position difficult. And if you are fortunate enough to have an established career, you want to do everything you can to ensure that career is protected. If you have been charged with driving under the influence (DUI), among the consequences you are likely facing is the potential impact a DUI conviction could have on your ability to earn a living. Understanding DUI employment consequences, as well as your potential options in dealing with those consequences, can help you to be better prepared during this challenging time.
Are Employers Able to See That You Received A DUI?
You can be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. The potential penalties you face upon conviction include fines and court costs, mandatory drug and alcohol classes, and license suspension. In addition, your DUI or DWI conviction will appear on the public record, where it will be visible to all, including employers, to see. A current or potential employer, as well as members of the general public, can easily access these records via a Maryland Judiciary Case Search by simply entering in your name. A simple case search can reveal the following information:
- A history of charges that have been filed against you in civil, criminal, or traffic court
- The case numbers associated with the charges
- The date on which charges were filed
- The current status of the case
Clicking on a specific case number allows anyone searching to view details about the case, including the dates and types of court hearings that were held, the outcome of these hearings, and the overall disposition of your case, which indicates whether you were found guilty, accepted a plea agreement, or had your charges dismissed.
Here’s How a DUI Can Impact Your Future Employment
When it comes to dealing with DUI employment consequences, it is important to understand the conditions for employment in the state. According to the Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation (DLLR), Maryland is an employment at will state, meaning employees can be fired at any time and for any reason, or even no reason at all, unless the employee has a contract expressly stating otherwise. The exceptions to this rule are in cases where the firing is based on discrimination for refusing to engage in illegal conduct, in retaliation for filing a workers’ compensation claim, or for reporting unsafe conditions.
This raises the question of whether you need to report a DUI to your employer, in light of the potential negative consequences. The answer depends both on the company you work for and the type of work you are doing. Most companies have an employee handbook outlining expected behaviors and responsibilities of those the company employs. It is within the rights of a company to include guidelines for employee conduct both on and off the job, and a DUI could be seen as a violation of that code. Jobs in which a DUI could go against an employer’s code of conduct include the following:
- Employees whose positions require they uphold the law, such as lawyers, judges, and those in law enforcement
- Professionals who are charged with the care and well-being of others, such as teachers, clergy members, medical providers, and social service workers
- People who hold public offices, such as politicians and council members
- Workers in the transportation industry, including bus drivers, taxi drivers, EMS workers, and those in the commercial trucking industry
- Military personnel and active-duty service members
For any of the above, a DUI charge could be seen as compromising to the integrity and responsibilities of their positions, and it is likely a violation of the terms of their employment or service.
Why Employers Might Fear Hiring People with a DUI on Their Record
A DUI conviction often has the biggest impacts on those who are seeking employment. Most positions today require candidates for employment to complete an extensive application process and undergo background checks. According to guidelines for pre-employment screening from the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation, although it is unlawful for an employer to make inquiries about a potential employee’s general arrest and conviction record, an employer may inquire about convictions that have a direct relationship to the job the person is applying for. This could be in a general manner, such as revealing character traits that are inappropriate for a company or position, or in a specific way, such as when the job you are applying for requires you to travel or use a company vehicle in the course of your employment.
In considering DUI employment consequences, it is important to realize that being arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated or under the influence of alcohol or drugs has negative connotations in the general public as well as with employers, which includes the following:
- Driving while under the influence can be seen as a reckless and irresponsible action, indicating a lack of concern by the person facing these charges for their own safety as well as the safety of others.
- A DUI may indicate poor judgment on the part of a potential employee, and claims of being unaware of the laws or dangers of driving while under the influence are more or less invalid considering overall public awareness of the issue.
- Driving while under the influence, despite knowing the potential ramifications, may be viewed as indicative of a bigger problem, such as alcohol or substance abuse.
For many companies, the bottom line is money. Having someone on their staff who has been charged or convicted of a DUI creates a liability that could result in higher premiums for company vehicle or health insurance benefits, as well as increases in the costs associated with workers’ compensation insurance.
Common Questions & Answers
At Jimeno & Gray, P.A, our experienced Maryland DUI/DWI attorneys provide aggressive legal representation to defend clients against their charges. The following are some of the most commonly asked questions we hear:
- When is the best time to disclose my DUI charge or conviction to a potential employer? The best time to make this type of disclosure is generally at the end of the interview, when the subject of a background check is brought up. While telling a potential employer about a DUI, the less said the better. State when the incident occurred, take responsibility for your actions, and emphasize the positive action you have taken to ensure it does not happen again.
- How long will a DUI continue to show up on a background check? Criminal convictions remain on your record permanently. Although the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) does not limit how far back a background check can go, most employers look at employee conduct over the past seven years.
- How will I know if I did not get a job as the result of a DUI? The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) requires employers to notify candidates if they were not hired as the result of information obtained in a background check. You are entitled to a copy of the report, as well as to dispute any information you feel is inaccurate.
Let Us Assist You with Your Case
If you or a loved one has been charged with a DUI, contact Jimeno & Gray, P.A. Our experienced Maryland DUI attorneys can advise you on a strong legal defense against your charges, while helping to ensure your rights are protected. Serving Anne Arundel County and the surrounding areas, our office is available to help. Call or contact us online today for a free consultation.
Meet Our Lawyers
Gregory P. Jimeno, Esquire
Frank C. Gray, Jr., Esquire.
Magaly Delisse Bittner, Esquire
Jessica McConnell, Esquire