Will My Employer Find Out if I Get a DUI?
When you get arrested for a DUI, you know that there will be immediate consequences to your public record. An arrest places you into a legal system which may vary from state to state and from county to county within each state. However, there are general trends that affect people who are arrested for drunk driving. These are important to be aware of.
What to Expect
You’re probably wondering, “Will my employer find out if I get a DUI?” The short answer is very possibly, yes. At a minimum, your name, photo, and arrest information will usually be listed in some correctional system database. Once the charge is filed against you, your case number and information also become part of your official entry in a searchable court database. All of this information is usually readily accessible online to the public, including your current and future employers.
People in the public sector can go to the court system database online to verify the latest status in your criminal case in court records. In some local jurisdictions, documents related to your court proceedings are posted online. It’s often easy to download a copy of these documents and store them in a paper or electronic file.
When Your Employer Finds Out
Anyone who works in the public sector, has mandatory public reporting, and/or who depends on a clear driver’s license (operator or commercial) should expect their employer will learn about their DUI arrest and/or conviction. Mandatory reporting, if applicable to your employment position, means you have to tell your employer about your arrest. For example, teachers are public employees who must notify their employer of a pending charge.
A first-time DUI usually results in a fine and a misdemeanor criminal charge. There may be a mandatory period for suspending your driver’s license and jail time to be served. A local jurisdiction may require a convicted drunk driver to check in with a probation officer and to have regular urine tests, and, in some cases, to return to work with a restricted license. Some programs for DUI offenders require you to go to counseling or to a support group like Alcoholics Anonymous.
The goal is to get drunk drivers back to normal functioning in society without subsequent arrests for drunk driving.
How to Talk About a DUI With Your Employer
Keep in mind that getting arrested for a DUI will have consequences, but they can be worked through. Moving through the justice system could be a shock to the person who goes through it, even downright scary if you’ve never been to jail. Many states have laws that limit the circumstances in which an employer can take adverse employment action against an employee based on a criminal arrest and/or conviction. You may want to discuss how to handle a discussion with your employer about your DUI with a competent employment attorney in the area where you work before that discussion ever happens so you are prepared. If your employer broaches the subject of your DUI case, you may want to consider these helpful tips:
- Be honest about what happened and what you learned from the experience. If you deny that you were arrested and it’s evident in the public database, you will seem dishonest. Your employer may view a denial as a reason to terminate your employment.
- Explain the timeline you must follow to fulfill all court requirements. You want to resolve the case as soon as possible. Your employer may or may not be willing to work around your schedule so you can attend court dates, substance abuse counseling, and other appointments (perhaps with a lawyer or counselor).
- Inform your boss of any hours you could be absent due to mandatory jail time or community service. Some employers will hold your job during your absence or at least grant a leave of absence. Furthermore, your boss may view your cooperation with authorities as a positive direction. The alternative is maintaining the employment of a person who is not serious about resolving his or her DUI case.
- Don’t brag about your arrest or the details of the DUI case to co-workers at work or in private.
Driving drunk has the potential to change your life forever, adversely impacting your employment, especially if you temporarily lose the privilege to operate a vehicle. For more details on preventing drunk driving in the future, check out our previous blog posts.