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DUI & the State Bar of California's Moral Character Determination


It’s not difficult to enjoy some drinks at a celebratory dinner, during a night on the town, or when entertaining some important clients, but the instant you have too many, “losing” track of your alcohol can lead to a DUI on the ride home.

While a DUI may be tolerable for a server, an entrepreneur, or a chef, it can pose a career threat to someone going into law enforcement, education, medicine, or law.

Moral Character Determination

If you’re planning on practicing law in California, the Committee of Bar Examiners of the State Bar of California, the “Committee,” will be scrutinizing your DUI closely.

The Committee has the responsibility of determining whether you have the “good moral character” required to practice law in California under Section 6060 of the Business and Professions Code and Title 4, Division 1, Chapter 4 of the Rules of the State Bar of California.

The Committee evaluates applicants for the following qualities: candor, honesty, trustworthiness, respect, and obedience to the law, and respect for others’ rights and the judicial process.

If an applicant’s arrest could be construed as “immoral conduct,” it does not necessarily preclude them from practicing law in California, however, anyone convicted of a crime, including DUI, must show that they are rehabilitated before receiving a positive moral character determination.

What counts as misconduct?

Misconduct includes, but is not limited to:

  • Any behavior that results in a criminal conviction.
  • Material omissions from a moral character application.
  • False statements in a moral character application.

Essentially, the more serious the crime, the stronger the applicant must show rehabilitation. As it pertains to a DUI, the Committee will consider:

  • The nature of the offense, and if there were aggravating factors.
  • The age of the applicant at the time of the offense.
  • Whether the offense was an isolated incident.
  • How long it's been since the arrest.
  • Whether the applicant made amends to any victims.
  • If there was an expungement or pardon.
  • Successful completion of probation or parole.
  • Abstinence from alcohol or the controlled substance for not less than two years.
  • Payments of all fines associated with the DUI conviction.
  • Significant community service.

Will a DUI prevent you from getting licensed in California? It depends on the above factors and playing your cards right. Of course, the best strategy right now is to fight your DUI charges and avoid a conviction in the first place.

While a single DUI conviction should not stop you from being admitted to the bar, if there were aggravating circumstances, or if this was not your first offense, then it is certainly advisable to proceed with caution. Regardless, your best bet is to discuss the details with an Orange County DUI defense lawyer from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.

Contact us to schedule a free case evaluation with a Board-Certified DUI defense expert!

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