If you have a DUI (driving under the influence) conviction in your past, you can pretty much guarantee that it will turn up on a background check. If the person doing the checking is a prospective employer, does that mean that you won't get the job? Maybe. Here's what you should know.
1.) DUI convictions aren't just traffic offenses - they're also criminal offenses.
That means that even if you were sleeping off a few drinks in the back of the car and the keys were in your pocket when you were charged, you still committed a crime.
More than 90% of employers use background checks before they hire, and studies have shown that prospective employers discriminate against potential employees who have criminal records. Having a DUI on your record really can cost you the job.
2.) Unless you know what's in your own background report, you run the risk of ruining your chances at a job no matter what you do (or don't) tell the employer.
It's estimated that 70% of background checks have some sort of error in them. That could mean that you're lucky enough not to have your DUI show up, but you have no way of knowing for certain.
It's also possible that an error in your background report makes your situation worse, as well. If you were only charged with a DUI, your background report could make it seem as if you were actually convicted instead!
That leaves you with an unpleasant choice. You can say nothing and wonder if your DUI will show up on a background report and ruin your chances at the job, or confess up-front and possibly ruin your chances at the job before a background report even gets run.
No matter what, as long as that old DUI charge or conviction is on your record, you have to make the same difficult decision each time you have a new job interview.
3.) You may be missing an opportunity to clean up your record and resolve the problem.
Asking the court to hide a DUI conviction through a process called "expungement" can make the previous arrest or conviction invisible to prospective employers. While not all states allow DUI convictions to be expunged, many do. And, you can almost always get a mere arrest for DUI (where no conviction followed) expunged.
In general, the courts look at a number of factors before allowing a record to be expunged. These include:
- the circumstances of the original offense or arrest. For example, were you driving when you were arrested for DUI? Or, were you sleeping off a few too many in a parking lot? Were people injured? How high was your blood alcohol content?
- the number of offenses you've had in the past. You're more likely to get a "one and only" offense expunged than several.
- your age at the time of the conviction. If you were a juvenile or young adult, a judge may be more inclined to grant an expungement.
- how long it's been since the event. The more time that's passed, the more favorable the outlook for your request.
- whether your conviction involved jail time or probation. If you were granted probation, and you complied with all its terms, the court may be willing to grant you a second chance.
- was your conviction deferred? If your conviction was deferred, you were never formally convicted (assuming you obeyed all the conditions imposed by the judge for whatever period he or she designated). You can almost always get a deferred record expunged.
Even if your state doesn't allow DUI records to be expunged, you can sometimes get the court to issue a non-disclosure order. Such an order will leave your DUI visible to all criminal justice agencies, but it will make the information unavailable to potential employers. If you have an old DUI arrest or conviction that you suspect is keeping you from getting hired into a new position somewhere, contact a DUI attorney (such as Tolman Kirk Clucas PLLC) and discuss your case to see what can be done.