How a DUI Can Affect Employment

A DUI conviction could get you fired from your job. It could also make it harder for you to become employed in future positions. Know your rights as an employee and job applicant.

Most employers will look unfavorably upon an employee or job applicant with a DUI. However, it’s important here to distinguish between conviction and arrest.

While an arrest will appear on your criminal record, employers are barred from making decisions about your employment because of an arrest that did not lead to a conviction, nor can they ask you questions about that arrest. Employers cannot ask about your criminal record on the first form you fill out to apply for a job.

However, employers can ask you questions about convictions later in the hiring process, such as during an interview. For some positions, such as those in the healthcare, government, law enforcement, or childcare sector, employers may be particularly sensitive to a DUI conviction. For these types of positions, such a conviction could greatly hamper your ability to acquire employment.

Some employers may strictly state that they won’t hire applicants with convictions on their records.

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Will a DUI Get You Fired?

Most employees in the U.S. “work at will,” which means they can quit their job at any time, for any reason. This law protects employee rights, but it also means employers can fire employees for any reason as well, as long as they are not discriminating against an employee because of a protected status such as their race or religious faith. DUI offenders are not protected, however.

In short, a DUI could get you fired from your job.

Some states have laws that bar employers from disciplining employees for specific kinds of “off-duty conduct,” such as the legal consumption of alcohol. Massachusetts does not have any such laws. Furthermore, a DUI is a criminal offense and does not fall under the category of acceptable “off-duty conduct.” The charge is for consuming alcohol and driving, not simply for consuming alcohol.

Can You Get Your DUI Record Sealed?

It is possible to get your criminal record sealed from the public, but it is important to note that this does not mean your record will be expunged.

Sealed records can’t be seen by the public, which includes most employers, but they can be seen by law enforcement, government agencies and the courts. Massachusetts also has what’s known as “lifetime look back,” which means any DUI conviction, no matter how long ago, counts in your succession of DUI offenses.

For example, your first offense is still your first offense, even if it occurred 35 years ago.

You can apply to have your records sealed in the following circumstances:

  • 5 years after a misdemeanor conviction or, if incarcerated, 5 years after the end of your incarceration period.
  • 10 years after a felony conviction or, if incarcerated, 10 years after the end of your incarceration period.

If your OUI case was Continued Without a Finding and ultimately resulted in a dismissal of the charge, you DO NOT have to wait to file a petition to seal; you can do so immediately.  A Continuance Without a Finding resulting in a dismissal is NOT a conviction, so there is no prescribed period of time that the law requires you to wait.

However, there is no guarantee that your records will be sealed, even if you are eligible. You must demonstrate that “substantial justice would be best served” by the sealing of your record.

If you have been arrested for DUI but have not yet gone to trial and received a verdict, you are presumed innocent until proven guilty. You should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to have them review your case.

Surviving Your First OUI In Massachusetts

Call DUI Attorney Joseph J Higgins for a free case evaluation today at 508-930-4273