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Can I Be Turned Down For a Job if I Have Had a DUI?

By San Diego Attorney on July 15, 2022

How DUIs could hurt your job chances—in a nutshell

Employers in California can only conduct a criminal background check after making a conditional offer of employment. Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, this check looks at your criminal record for up to seven years before the check (although there are some jobs where employers are still required by other legislation to obtain a full criminal record).

If potential employers find a conviction for DUI, then whether it affects your job chances will depend on your industry.

You will face difficulties if you are applying to work in healthcare, or you want to become a realtor, a commercial driver, or a pilot—but other employers vary in their approaches. In California, employers are not allowed to simply turn you down. They need to make an individualized assessment, in which they must consider:

  • Whether your conviction history has a direct and adverse relationship with the job duties
  • The nature and gravity of your offense
  • The length of time that has passed
  • The nature of the job.

Having a DUI conviction when applying for positions like teaching jobs is a gray area—the conviction is not technically related to your duties, but the nature of the offense could suggest you might not be a good role model.

If your employer decides not to hire you due to your criminal convictions, they need to provide written notice to you and give you a chance to respond.

If your conviction has been expunged, you don’t technically need to declare it when asked about your criminal record. If it is still on your criminal record, however, it’s best to be honest about it, as a background check will reveal it.

Will employers want to know about your driving record? Are you required to disclose it?

Employers in California can access your DMV record, which will show your driving status, any violations (like speeding tickets), and accidents as well as driving convictions. In some industries, a driving check is considered more important than others: for instance, if you work in a job in sales or real estate that requires a lot of travel by car, your employer will want to know that you’re safe on the road.

Unfortunately, convictions are not automatically expunged from your driving record when they are expunged from your criminal record—you have to wait for the specified period of time before they are removed.

For DUI offenses, this is usually ten years—but if you have a commercial driving license, they will remain on it for 55 years. (Source: Retention of Driver Record Information – California DMV)

It is illegal for potential employers to take into account arrests if you haven’t led to a conviction. So, if you have been acquitted of DUI, you shouldn’t have anything to worry about. However, if your case hasn’t reached court yet, employers will be able to see your pending charges.

Potential employers don’t even have to ask you before getting your DMV record. However, if they are hiring a professional background checking company to do a thorough background check on you, they will usually contact you first and let you know what they’re doing.

If your DMV is something you are concerned about, one potential solution is to get a copy of your own driving record, identify problematic incidents, and think about how to best explain them.

If you have been involved in more than one accident, you can take steps to create a better impression—for instance, by taking a defensive driving course.

Does it behoove you to keep DUIs off your record? How can you do this?

Yes, if possible it’s best to try to keep DUIs off both your driving and your criminal record. As long as you haven’t been sentenced to a state jail for your DUI, expungements may be an option for you. To successfully get a conviction expunged, it’s very important that you stick to the terms of your probation.

Judges also look at your general level of family and community support and your ability to work when they consider whether or not to expunge your convictions.

How can a lawyer help you with all of this?

A lawyer can help you defend a DUI charge, and apply to get your DUI conviction expunged. Contact jD Law Criminal Defense Attorneys today at (760) 630-2000 to see how our experienced team can help.

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