Learning About Criminal Law Proceedings

A DWI Conviction Can Have Serious Consequences For Your Job Search

If you've been charged with driving while intoxicated (DWI) or driving under the influence (DUI), you may be weighing whether to fight the charges or simply accept the consequences. One important factor to consider involves any job searches you're currently doing or plan to do in the future.

Depending on the state in which you live, employers may legally ask about arrests and convictions when considering job applicants. They may run criminal background checks on applicants. Learning of a DWI conviction on your record may lead potential employers to dismiss you as a candidate. 

Ways That a DWI Negatively Affects Your Job Search

Narrowing the Pool of Candidates

When employers have a large number of qualified applicants, they may have certain guidelines about which applications to automatically disregard. Some automatically exclude any applicant with a criminal record. All states consider driving with a blood alcohol content above .08 percent to be a crime.

Indications of Poor Judgment Issues

Potential employers may be concerned that this episode of poor judgment on your part may indicate judgment issues in other areas of your life, including your work. They may view you as a risk for careless or reckless behavior on the job, or as someone who acts without regard for consequences.

A Red Flag for a Drinking Problem

Employers may worry that a DWI conviction is evidence of a much bigger problem. If they hire someone with alcohol abuse issues, that employee may be more likely to miss work or routinely arrive late, be less effective because of hangovers, or be tempted to drink on the job. The human resources department doesn't want to deal with having to terminate an employee over these issues, as the recruiting, hiring and training processes cost substantial amounts of money.

Fields in Which DWI Convictions Are Particularly Problematic

Some occupational fields are more difficult than others to find employment in when the individual has a DWI conviction, especially a recent one. Some main examples include:

  • preschool, elementary and secondary education -- and other jobs working with children
  • pharmaceutical work, healthcare and firefighting, since mistakes can be deadly

If the job involves working in the public eye, a prospective employer may not want someone with a DWI conviction in the position. A charitable or political activist organization, for example, may worry about its reputation if a public representative has a DWI conviction. 

Driving Issues

If driving would be part of your job requirements -- or might be added to your job description in the future -- a DWI conviction will work against you. Employers don't want to risk the serious consequences of an employee being arrested for DWI while on the job. 

If you want to work in an occupation that requires a commercial driver's license, you are likely to end that possibility with two DWI convictions. The federal government disqualifies CDLs after two convictions, even if you were driving your personal vehicle. You can apply for reinstatement after 10 years under certain circumstances. 

What You Can Do Now

If you want to fight the charge, contact a lawyer for a free initial consultation. DWI attorneys sometimes can convince the prosecutor's office to drop or reduce the charges. During your consultation, you'll learn whether the lawyer believes that is possible in your situation.

Even if you must deal with a DWI conviction, having skilled legal representation can help you receive the lowest penalties possible, which can help you avoid jail time. If you stay out of legal trouble after this episode, the DWI will eventually be far enough in the past that its effects on your job searches will be less problematic.