DUI and Future Opportunities: Employment & Education
UPDATED: February 6, 2020
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The punishment for a DUI conviction does not end in the courtroom, but has lasting consequences on your employment and education opportunities. Even a probated DUI sentence can influence an employer’s willingness to hire you. Colleges can have the same types of reservations, so before you enter a plea to a DUI charge, review your employment status and future plans with a DUI attorney. With your attorney's help, you can potentially bargain for a DUI plea that can later be remedied through an expunction or non-disclosure proceeding.
DUI and Employment Opportunities After Conviction
A DUI conviction can have lasting consequences on your employment options. Some employers will not or cannot hire persons with a DUI conviction. They will perceive your DUI conviction as evidence that you are a safety risk to driving or operating equipment. The concern will be that if you do end up hurting someone, the company could be sued for knowingly hiring someone who was a liability risk to others, thereby increasing the amount of damages they would eventually have to pay. Other employers are influenced by their insurance companies. Generally, employees with DUI’s on their record are considered at a greater risk of hurting someone or something. As a result, insurance companies will increase the rates for the employer, much like your auto insurance company increased your rates after your DUI arrest.
If you hold some type of license because of your employment or profession (i.e. plumbing license, law license, nursing license), the agency that maintains your license may require you to report any criminal arrests or convictions, including DUI's. Some agencies still allow you to keep your license, but will revoke or suspend your license if you fail to report the DUI arrest or conviction. If you are unsure about the reporting requirements for your license, visit the licensing agency's website, call the agency, and visit with your DUI attorney.
DUI Conviction Affects on Your Education Opportunities
A DUI arrest or DUI conviction can also affect your educational opportunities. First, many colleges require you to list any criminal convictions or arrests on your application, including DUI offenses. If you have multiple DUI arrests and convictions, some universities will deny you admission. If you only have one DUI conviction, they may admit you if you have completed or agree to complete a drug/alcohol counseling program. Some schools will not deny you admission for having a DUI arrest or a DUI conviction, but your failure to disclose the arrest or conviction on your application can result in a denial of admission for falsifying your application per the university's admission policies.
A college or university’s policies will determine the effect of a DUI arrest or DUI conviction after you have already been admitted. Some colleges have a policy that you must report any arrests to the administration within a number of days. Failure to report, not the DUI arrest itself, can result in your suspension. If you are arrested multiple times for drunk driving, the college may make the decision to temporarily or permanently suspend your admission. Even a temporary suspension can affect financial aid that you have been awarded, either by policy or through a drop in grades because you are not allowed in the classroom.
DUI Conviction Affects on Financial Aid and Scholarships
A DUI can affect financial aid in other ways. Many federal programs will not award financial aid to individuals with felony DUI convictions. Requirements for private scholarships or financial aid programs will depend on the rules set by the organization that runs the program. Some will only be concerned with felony convictions. However, others will ask if you have ever been arrested or convicted of any offense, including DUI’s. If you are in the running for a scholarship, even a DUI arrest can tip the scales against you in a close award decision.
Some scholarships are available for individuals who have had convictions and are trying to rekindle their career options. If you are in the process of looking for financial aid and have been arrested for a DUI, make sure that you review the program requirements before you enter a plea so you can know exactly what impact your plea will have on your financial aid options.
DUI Conviction Affects on Specialized Career Paths
In addition to a college’s policies, certain governmental licensing agencies can influence whether or not a college will admit you if the degree program requires you to obtain certain types of licenses. If you are considering going to college for a nursing or law license, you may not be able to obtain a license from the state agency that handles the issuance of such licenses if you have a DUI felony conviction or numerous misdemeanor DUI convictions.
If the college you want to attend knows that you will never qualify to obtain a license, they may refuse to accept you into their program. Before you pursue a specialized career path and obtain acquire a number of student loans, check with the licensing agency to see if your DUI arrest or DUI conviction will affect your application.
DUI Expungement – Clearing Your DUI Record
If probation is an option for you and you think you will want to reduce the effects of the DUI conviction at a later time, you should shoot for a probated sentence. As a general rule, if you receive and successfully complete a DUI probation, some states will allow you to apply for an expunction of your DUI record. An expunction is a process by where you petition the court after a period of time after your conviction to remove it from your record. In the petition, you must allege that you successfully completed your probation; the two main components are that you received probation and that you successfully completed that probation.
If you were sentenced to jail time or did not comply with the terms of your probation, expunctions are much more difficult to obtain for DUI offenses. After a hearing, the judge will decide whether or not to expunge or remove the DUI conviction from your record. If you met your state’s expungement requirements, the judge will grant your motion and employers will no longer be able to access your DUI records. Keep in mind that not every state permits DUI offenses or DUI convictions to be expunged. Political pressure has led some states to exclude DUI offenses as an offense for which expunction is available.
Alternatives to DUI Expungement
If your state does not permit DUI offenses or DUI convictions to be expunged, other similar options may be available. You may still be able to petition for a non-disclosure. A non-disclosure petition is very similar in form and requirement to those of expunction. They are generally reserved for those defendants that have successfully completed a DUI probation or a probated sentence. If your petition is granted, the result is slightly different. The DUI conviction will still be on your criminal record and law enforcement and district attorney offices will still have access to your DUI conviction information. However, the general public will no longer have access to your DUI records. This includes employers and college administrators.
Discussing Your DUI Conviction with an Attorney
With DUI cases, the main thing to remember is to review all of your options with your DUI attorney before you enter a plea. You cannot usually undo a plea and sentence after you enter your final plea. Make sure that your attorney understands your educational goals and your career path. They may be able to work out a plea deal that limits the impact of the DUI conviction on your education and career.