Unfortunately, several people often make the mistake of driving or operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Although this decision will not seem innocuous at that particular time, it can have severe repercussions. Judges do not treat driving under the influence (DUI) offenses lightly because it is one of the leading causes of road-related accidents.
In addition to the possible hefty fines, license suspension, and jail time, a DUI conviction will remain on your criminal record. That means it will appear on most background checks, including when a potential employer wants to know your criminal background before hiring you. If a potential employer finds that you have a DUI conviction record, there are chances that he/she will overlook your job application for those with a clean record. However, having a DUI conviction appear on an employment background check is not the end of the world, and our attorneys at Koenig Law Office understand this more than anyone else.
If you are in trouble with the law for an alleged DUI offense in Bakersfield, we can increase your chances of avoiding a conviction or receiving a lighter charge with less detrimental consequences. Read on to learn more about DUI and employment background checks.
DUI at a Glance
Despite being one of the most severe offenses in the legal justice system, DUI offenses are surprisingly common. According to VC 23152, you commit a DUI offense when you drive a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and drugs, including lawful prescription drugs and over-the-counter drugs.
If you are found guilty of DUI at trial, your sentence could include the following if there are no aggravating factors like speeding or excessive blood alcohol content (BAC) levels:
- An incarceration term of up to six (6) months
- A fine of up to $6,000
- Six-month driver’s license suspension
Since DUI is a priorable offense, subsequent convictions within ten years will attract harsher penalties. However, there are chances that you could avoid these penalties and a possible criminal record if you have an attorney to represent you in every stage of the legal justice system for the best possible outcome.
What You Need to Know About Employment Background Checks After a DUI Conviction
An employment background check is typically when a potential employer screens your personal history, including any criminal records you have, to determine whether to hire you. A criminal background check during an employment interview will tell a potential employer whether you have had an arrest or conviction for a misdemeanor or felony in the past.
Generally speaking, an employment background check will disclose the following information to a potential employer:
- Your past criminal convictions, including a DUI conviction
- Your arrest records
- Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) vehicle registration and driving records
- Negative information on your credit record
- Schools that you attended and dates
- Workers compensation records
All this information could negatively affect your eligibility for a particular job during a job interview, regardless of your qualifications and experience.
How to Disclose Your DUI Conviction the Right Way in a Job Application
A DUI conviction can create a barrier to several opportunities when planning for the future. If you are applying for a job, you must tell your potential employer about your DUI conviction, just like you would need to inform them about any other criminal convictions.
While a DUI is a traffic violation, it is still a criminal offense. Therefore, omitting it from your job application or lying about your criminal background could negatively affect you and your plans in the long run. That is why you need to learn how to disclose your DUI conviction correctly when applying for a job to increase your chances of securing employment.
Although you must inform your potential or prospective employer about your DUI conviction, listing the offense on your application is not enough. Detailing the context of your DUI conviction can increase your chances of securing your desired job.
It is worth noting that a potential employer will not ask you about your criminal background before giving you a conditional offer of employment. That means you should feel confident that your prospective employer wants to hire you before he/she asks you about your DUI history.
If a potential employer gives you a conditional offer on a job, there are chances that he/she will ask you about your criminal history. It is a wise idea to use this chance to carefully discuss the following with him/her to increase your chances of securing employment:
- Ways that you have progressed since your conviction
- Lessons learned from your convictions
- Any help you have received to deal with alcohol use disorder
- Facts about any community or volunteer work you did after your conviction
Generally speaking, you have the ability and opportunity to shape how your potential employer perceives your DUI conviction. Ensure you use any chance you will receive to show him/her how you have rehabilitated and changed since your arrest or conviction.
However, during a job interview, it is not wise to volunteer any information about your conviction because your potential employer has probably seen it on your application, and it is not a matter of concern to him/her. However, if he/she asks anything about your prior DUI convictions, answer his/her questions honestly and courteously.
How a DUI Can Impact Your Employment
As a standard procedure or criteria for employment, most employers will want to know your criminal background before hiring you. Although it could seem like an act of discrimination, it is legal, and a DUI conviction can jeopardize your employment plans in certain positions. Even for those already employed, a DUI conviction could lead to job termination or the revocation of professional licenses.
Examples of professionals whose employment or employment plans could be at risk after a DUI conviction include:
Undoubtedly, the most obvious risk of employment loss after a DUI conviction is for those whose job requires driving, such as:
- Bus drivers
- Delivery truck drivers
Aside from the possible suspension of your commercial driver’s license for not more than one year (1) upon conviction for a DUI offense, your employer is also likely to suspend or terminate your employment. However, some employers can offer you a different job that does not require driving.
Hiring an attorney soon after an arrest for allegedly driving under the influence is a brilliant idea if you are a commercial driver. In addition to the possible jail time and fines, a DUI conviction can make you lose your job.
According to VC 23152(e), it is illegal for a limo, taxi, Uber, or ride-sharing driver to drive with a BAC of 0.04% or higher while having a passenger onboard. It is no defense that you were on the clock or not impaired before your arrest for an alleged VC 23152(e) violation. If you are guilty of this offense, the judge could sentence you to up to six (6) months in jail if you are a first-time offender.
In addition to jail time, the DMV will also suspend your driver’s license (DL), negatively affecting your livelihood and prospects as a driver. Although you do not require a commercial DL like truckers, if you are a taxi driver, courier driver, or work in a similar related job, you could lose your source of income upon a conviction for a DUI offense.
Also, ride-sharing, limousine, and taxi companies will not hire you if you have had a DUI conviction within the last seven years. For all these reasons, you cannot risk going to court without an experienced attorney after an arrest on suspicion that you were impaired driving.
People Whose Profession or Career Require Professional Licenses
If your occupation requires professional licensing, you could lose your license or become ineligible to obtain one after a DUI conviction. Examples of these individuals include:
- Real estate agents
If you have a professional license and are guilty of a first-time misdemeanor DUI, your licensing board will most likely administer a professional license discipline. Although the disciplinary action they will take does not necessarily include license suspension, they could put you on professional license probation.
However, if there are aggravating factors and circumstances in your conviction, some licensing agencies could take harsher disciplinary action, including suspension or revocation of your professional license.
Your best bet at avoiding these possible consequences of a DUI conviction is retaining the services of an attorney. A seasoned attorney could convince the court to drop or reduce the alleged DUI crime to a lighter offense with less severe consequences upon conviction.
Your attorney will also represent you at any hearing with your professional licensing board to convince them you deserve a second chance to continue doing what you do best with your active license.
The Ban the Box Law and Employment Background Checks After a DUI Conviction
Although background checks are lawful, employers must meet several restrictions and obligations when performing them. The “Ban the Box” law is one of the laws that employers must abide by when recruiting employees to join their businesses or companies. Generally, the “Ban the Box” law prohibits employers from inquiring about your criminal history during the initial job application process.
Also known as the Fair Chance Act, the “Ban the Box” law became effective on January 1, 2018, after Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1008. As the name suggests, this law requires companies and organizations to remove the common question of “Do you have a felony conviction?” on job applications.
The primary reason for implementing this law is to inspire employers to focus on competencies rather than criminal records when determining whether you qualify for a job. All private and public employers with a minimum of five employees must comply with the “Ban the Box” law.
Aside from this legal protection, you could be eligible for an expungement after a DUI conviction to put your mistakes behind you and have the fresh start you deserve.
Steps on How to Expunge Your DUI Conviction to Increase Your Chances of Employment
There is a common misconception that your DUI conviction will disappear from your criminal record after ten years, which is untrue. Your conviction will remain and show up on any background check unless you obtain an expungement by filing a PC 1203.4 petition.
Although expungement does not clear your DMV record, it can help reduce several detrimental consequences of a DUI conviction, including the challenges of securing reliable employment. Once you obtain an expungement of your DUI conviction, you can legally say or answer “no” when asked whether you have a criminal record.
Otherwise, if you do not obtain an expungement, it will remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. To that end, here is a general overview of the steps to complete to have your DUI conviction expunged under PC 1203.4:
I. Obtain Copies of Your Criminal Record from the Court Where Your Conviction Occurred
Obtaining an expungement is a multi-step process that begins with obtaining copies of your criminal record from the court where your DUI conviction occurred. You can obtain copies of your criminal record by visiting the Office of the Attorney General website or the Department of Justice (DOJ) Criminal Record Review Unit.
A fee of $25 could apply when obtaining your records via the DOJ Criminal Record Review Unit. However, you could qualify for a fee waiver when you provide proof of your income to show them you do not have the financial ability to pay the fee.
II. Find Out Whether You are Eligible for an Expungement
Unfortunately, not everyone qualifies for an expungement. You are likely to qualify for a DUI conviction expungement if:
- You have a misdemeanor or felony DUI conviction
- You do not have any ongoing or pending charge
- You are not on probation or serving a sentence for any offense conviction
- You have successfully finished your probation or obtained an early termination of your probation
- You did not serve time in the state prison, or if you did, it was before the enactment of the realignment program under Prop 47
III. Know the Details of Your DUI Conviction(s)
You could be eligible to expunge multiple DUI convictions simultaneously. However, you have to know the details of each conviction, including:
- The case or docket number
- The judge’s verdict, if any
- If you obtained a plea, you should remember the plea option you chose
- The details of your sentencing, including the jail you were in custody and the date you obtained a release from jail
- The end of your probation or parole
IV. Know the Current Status of Your Probation
As mentioned above, you will be ineligible for expungement if you are still on probation for a DUI offense or any other offense. If you have completed your probation successfully or were never on probation, you can file your PC 1203.4 petition papers.
Alternatively, you can seek an early termination of your probation. When deciding whether to terminate your probation, the court will consider the following factors:
- Your criminal record
- The seriousness of your convictions
- Chances of securing employment after termination of probation
- Your community ties and people who rely on your moral and financial support, including your family
- Your behavior while on probation
V. File Your Expungement Petition Papers
If you are an excellent candidate for this post-conviction relief option and you have obtained and completed all the necessary paperwork, you can file for expungement. Your defense attorney can prepare and file your petition papers on time to increase your chances of qualifying for an expungement.
If you have a felony conviction(s), filing an expungement petition could cost you $120 for each conviction. However, if you want to obtain a misdemeanor DUI conviction expungement, you will pay a fee of $60 when filing your PC 1203.4 petition papers.
It is worth noting that the timely filing of your expungement papers is critical. For instance, you must give the prosecutor presiding over your case a minimum 15-day notice before the hearing. The early notice gives the prosecutor time to review your case and reject it if necessary.
VI. Prepare for Your Expungement Hearing
After you file your petition papers, your defense attorney will help you prepare for the expungement hearing. Whether your presence is necessary during this hearing will depend on the specific facts of your DUI case. Your defense attorney will keep you informed and advise you accordingly if your presence is necessary during the expungement hearing.
VII. Show Up for Your Expungement Hearing
The judge presiding over your case will decide whether to grant your expungement petition. Generally, there is no jury during this hearing, and the proceeding will take about ten minutes. During this hearing, the judge will consider the following factors when determining whether to grant an expungement of your conviction record:
- The seriousness of your DUI conviction
- Whether you have completed community service
- Whether you have additional convictions
- Your ability to secure and hold onto a job
If the court grants your expungement petition, you will receive a signed paper from the court documenting the dismissal of your DUI conviction(s). However, your conviction records will still be accessible to the public unless you have them sealed and destroyed. If you are eligible to seal your record, the court will destroy your conviction and arrest record, including:
- Your fingerprints
- Rap sheet entries
- Police reports
Your attorney can help you file and prepare petition papers to seal your criminal record. Once your DUI conviction record is expunged and sealed, a potential employer cannot discriminate against your job application due to your expunged convictions. That means you will have better chances of securing reliable employment after serving your sentence for a DUI conviction.
If you are ineligible for expungement, your attorney can help you seek other post-conviction relief options, including:
- A Certificate of Rehabilitation (COR)
- A Governor’s pardon
Frequently Asked Questions About DUI and Employment Background Checks
Most people arrested or charged with DUI will ask questions to know what they are up against, which is understandable. Below are some of the most common and frequently asked questions about DUI and employment background checks:
a) Will an Expunged DUI Conviction Affect Potential Penalties of a Future DUI Offense?
Yes, DUI is a priorable offense, meaning the court will consider your past convictions when deciding the appropriate sentence for any future DUI conviction. That is true even if you successfully expunged your past DUI conviction.
b) How Do I Avoid a Conviction Record If I Have a Pending DUI Charge?
A pending DUI charge does not mean a criminal record is inevitable. Hiring a seasoned and aggressive DUI attorney is the best step to increase your chances of avoiding a conviction or criminal record.
A seasoned defense attorney could put together viable defenses to help you convince the judge to drop or reduce the alleged DUI crime. Below are some of the defenses your attorney could apply to challenge the alleged DUI crime for the best possible outcome:
- The is insufficient evidence against you
- The preliminary alcohol screening (PAS) test results were inaccurate
- The arresting officer lacked probable cause for your arrest
- You were not impaired
- You were not driving
- Your objective signs of intoxication were due to innocent reasons like fatigue, cold, or allergies.
- The arresting officer did not give you correct instructions during field sobriety tests.
- Mouth alcohol was the cause of the falsely high BAC level
- The arresting officer did not observe you for a minimum of fifteen minutes before administering a PAS test
- Your BAC level was on the rise
Find a Seasoned DUI Attorney Near Me
At Koenig Law Office, we will leave no stone unturned when preparing defenses to challenge the alleged DUI crime. We understand the negative implications of a DUI conviction on your life and future, especially if you drive for a living.
Do not leave your future up to chance if you are under arrest or have a pending DUI charge in Bakersfield. Call our attorneys at 661-793-7222, and we will help you understand your current situation and represent you in court for the best possible result on the alleged DUI crime.