There are many collateral consequences of a DUI conviction in California. The ability to get a job and keep a job is crucial. Therefore, many people charged with DUI worry that a drunk driving conviction could impact their job.
Unfortunately, a conviction for driving under the influence shows up on your criminal record, which is public record. Your employer or potential employers can access your criminal records through a background check.
Arrested for DUI in California: Am I Going to Lose My Job?
Many businesses conduct background checks when they hire a person for a job. If you have a DUI on your record, it will show up in the background check. However, your employer might or might not find out about a DUI arrest unless your employer performs ongoing criminal record searches for employees.
A drunk driving conviction could affect your job if your job requires you to drive a motor vehicle. If you lose your driving privileges for even a short while, your employer may suspend or fire you because you cannot perform your job duties.
However, many employers do not worry about DUIs because they do not impact the person’s performance at work unless they are drinking on the job. If your employer suspects you are drinking alcohol while at work, they may conduct random alcohol screenings, according to California employment law and company policies.
How Does a DUI Conviction Affect Employment in California?
It depends on your employer and your job. For example, if you drive a commercial vehicle, trucking companies and other employers may not hire you because of past DUIs on your record.
A current employer might fire you for an arrest or conviction if you are a truck driver. That is also true for many individuals who drive buses, taxis, limos, and other vehicles for hire.
The risk of liability if you drink and drive on the job is too high for an employer to risk. Furthermore, your employer might not have a choice because individuals with a commercial license face automatic driver’s license suspension for driving under the influence.
If you hold a professional license, there could be consequences for a drunk driving conviction. Many jobs require individuals to have a professional license, including nurses, doctors, attorneys, teachers, real estate agents, and many others. A conviction for driving under the influence could result in the loss of the professional license, professional license probation, or sanctions by the professional licensing board. The consequences of a DUI for a person with a professional license depend on:
- The type of license;
- Statutes pertaining directly to that license; and
- Rules and requirements enacted by the licensing board.
Even first-time DUI convictions could result in a professional license discipline action by the licensing board and/or being fired by the employer. Even one misdemeanor DUI conviction could result in license revocation.
The best way to avoid employment consequences for a DUI is to fight a DUI charge. Hiring a California DUI lawyer gives you a better chance of having the charges dismissed or pleading down a DUI charge.
Will My Employer Be Notified of My DUI in California?
Neither the California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) nor the courts notify individuals’ employers of pending DUI cases or arrests against them. Although there are exceptions to this rule—such as for professions which require driving as an essential job duty—this is not standard practice. Rather, companies such as trucking companies may have a “pull list” with the DMV. This means that the DMV notifies the company if anyone on their list is arrested for driving under the influence.
Also, you may have a contractual duty to notify your employer of any arrests or convictions. You should review your employment contract and other employment paperwork to determine whether you are legally required to report a DUI arrest or conviction to your employer. You can also contact a California DUI attorney for a free consultation if you have questions about notifying your employer of a DUI.
The licensing board will almost always notify your employer of a DUI if you hold a professional license. Also, if your employer updates criminal background checks, they will find out about your drunk driving arrest. If you drive a commercial truck or another commercial vehicle, your employer likely updates your driving record, so they will find out about the DUI charge.
Will DUI Show Up on a Background Check in California?
Yes, a DUI shows up on background checks in California. Driving under the influence is a reportable offense. Therefore, the arrest and disposition of the case appear on your driving record for up to ten years. A felony DUI conviction remains on your driving record indefinitely.
Generally, a DUI remains on your criminal record forever, unless you have it expunged. New expungement laws in California allow courts to automatically expunge many misdemeanor criminal convictions and seal the records from public view.
For DUI arrests before January 1, 2021, you must go through the expungement process under California Penal Code §1203.4. The DUI arrest does not disappear from your criminal record. However, the criminal conviction is removed, and the case is dismissed, so it will appear as if you were never convicted of DUI.
How Does a DUI Show on a Background Check?
Your criminal records show every arrest and disposition of any criminal charges against you. However, a DUI on your driving record might not show on a criminal background check.
Therefore, how a DUI will show up when a California employer performs the check depends on the type and scope of the background check. As stated above, the conviction disappears from your record if you have the DUI expunged. Only the arrest shows up with a dismissal of the charges.
However, felony or misdemeanor DUI expungement does not remove a DUI conviction from your driving record. Many driver’s license suspensions for DUI are administrative actions instead of criminal penalties. You cannot expunge an administrative license suspension. Therefore, any DUI you receive is noted on your driving record for ten years (or forever as a felony DUI offense).
The best way to avoid having a DUI show on a background check is to avoid being convicted of driving while intoxicated. Hiring an experienced California DUI lawyer is the first step in fighting the charges. Criminal defense attorneys—and especially DUI Lawyers—understand how to develop a solid defense that will give you the best chance of avoiding a conviction.
Can I Be Fired for Getting a DUI in California?
Generally, an employer cannot fire you solely on the basis of you getting a DUI in California, or due to the arrest or a pending charge. If you plead innocent, your employer almost certainly has no grounds to fire you. However, if the DMV administratively suspends your driving privileges, this could give your employer a reason to fire you if driving is a requirement of employment.
If you decide to plead guilty to DUI charges or the court finds you guilty, then your employer may fire you for a DUI. Many employers view drunk driving charges as a sign that an employer may have a drug or alcohol abuse problem.
At the very least, an employer might consider a DUI a sign of poor judgment. Depending on your job type, an employer may determine that a DUI conviction is grounds for terminating employment.
Can an Employer in California Deny Me a Job Because of a DUI?
Employers can consider a DUI when deciding whether or not to offer you a job. In addition, it is not considered discrimination for an employer to consider an applicant’s criminal history when making hiring decisions.
Therefore, if you have a DUI conviction on your record, it could result in not getting a job for certain employers. If you drive for your employment, an employer will likely turn you down for a job if you have a history of drunk driving.
However, a drunk driving arrest does not mean you cannot find a job. It just might take longer to find a job, and your employment prospects could be reduced.
California’s Fair Chance Act (also known as the Ban-the-Box law) generally prohibits employers from asking applicants about their criminal history until later in the hiring process. Employers with at least five employees must follow California law.
In addition, California law requires employers to remove questions on applications that ask if you have been convicted of a felony. Therefore, the focus is on your skills and experience instead of your criminal history.
What Should I Do if I Lose My Job Because of a DUI Arrest?
If you lose your job because of a DUI arrest, you should immediately contact an experienced DUI defense attorney for a free consultation to determine if the termination of employment violated labor laws or your constitutional rights. If you have not been convicted of driving while intoxicated, your employer may have violated a California law protecting employees from wrongful termination.
However, as discussed above, if you are convicted of driving under the influence, the employer can deny employment or terminate your job if your job is considered an “at-will” position. That means you can quit your job anytime without giving your employer a reason, and essentially vice versa.
Your employer can fire you at any time without cause as long as the firing is lawful and not discriminatory. If you have an employment contract, it might protect you from being fired for certain criminal convictions. However, the employer may not renew the employment contract.
Contact an Experienced Southern California DUI Attorney for a Free Consultation to Discuss DUI Defense
Being arrested for DUI is not a conviction. You have the right to fight criminal charges. However, you should not try to fight the charges alone. Having an experienced DUI lawyer handle the case gives you the best chance of beating a DUI.
An experienced DUI defense attorney conducts a thorough investigation into your arrest. First, they analyze the evidence against you to determine weaknesses that can be used in your defense. Then, based on the evidence and the circumstances of your arrest, a DUI lawyer develops a defense strategy.
- Lack of probable cause for an arrest and/or reasonable suspicion for a traffic stop;
- High BAC levels due to medical conditions;
- Failure of police officers to follow correct procedures for collecting samples, testing, and storing samples for chemical tests;
- Violation of your constitutional rights;
- Equipment malfunction caused by a defect, incorrect calibration of the breathalyzer, or insufficient maintenance;
- The alcohol in your system did not impair your ability to operate a motor vehicle;
- Insufficient evidence to prove impaired driving; and
- Unreliable evidence from field sobriety tests.
Your employer could fire you for being convicted of driving under the influence. Don’t trust the courts to “get it right” if you are innocent of the DUI charges. You should hire a lawyer regardless of whether you are innocent or guilty of drinking and driving.
What Is the California Law for Driving Under the Influence? What Are the Potential Penalties for DUI Convictions?
Many people are unaware they can be charged with driving under the influence even though their blood alcohol concentration (“BAC”) is under the legal limit. California Vehicle Code §23152 makes it illegal to drive a vehicle if:
- You are under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both;
- You are addicted to the use of any drug;
- Your BAC level is above .08% – the legal limit for adult drivers in California; or
- Your BAC level is above .04% – the legal limit for driving a commercial motor vehicle or a vehicle with passengers for hire.
However, even if you refuse a chemical test or your BAC is below the legal limit, a police officer may arrest you for driving under the influence. “Under the influence” means the alcohol and/or drugs in your system prevent you from operating the vehicle safely.
The penalties for DUI in California can be severe. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, you could serve jail time for a first-offense DUI charge. Aggravating circumstances could increase jail time significantly for a conviction.
In addition to jail or prison time, you also face DUI penalties including:
- Fines and assessments that could total thousands of dollars;
- Revocation or suspension of your driver’s license;
- Attending DUI school;
- Three to five years of probation; and/or
- Installation of an ignition interlock device (“IID”).
The DUI penalties increase for each subsequent drunk driving and wet reckless conviction on your driving record. In addition, aggravating factors also enhance your DUI sentence.
If you were arrested for DUI in California, contact a Los Angeles DUI attorney immediately. You have the right to have legal representation at the DMV administrative hearing and in criminal court.
Hiring a California DUI Attorney
California has some of the most strict DUI laws and punishments for drunk driving in the United States. Representing yourself is never your best option. Many California DUI attorneys, such as the Law Offices of Taylor & Taylor offer free consultations. You can get answers to your questions and legal advice from a trusted legal advocate for individuals facing criminal allegations.
You should never go it alone when dealing with DUI charges. An experienced attorney can help you achieve far more positive consequences than are likely if you do not have the advice of legal counsel. If you’d like to learn more, you can speak to a DUI Defense attorney today by reaching out to us at this link.
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