Can I Lose My Job Because of a DUI?

A driving under the influence (DUI) conviction can affect one’s ability to get a job for years because most job applications ask candidates if they’ve ever been convicted of a crime. While some employers will overlook a DUI, others consider it a deal breaker. That’s no surprise.

Whether you’ve been convicted of a misdemeanor or a felony DUI, any DUI conviction can certainly make it more difficult to get a job in any field. But what if you’re already employed? Can your employer fire you if you’re convicted of DUI?

California is an At-Will Employment State

California’s Labor Code specifies that the employer-employee relationship is “at-will.” Meaning, an employer or an employee may terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without cause. There are exceptions: An employer cannot terminate an employee for discriminatory reasons, or for refusing to be involved in an illegal activity.

So, unless the termination was discriminatory or retaliatory, you would have no legal defense – your employer can terminate you for a DUI if they please. For example, if you have to spend any time in jail, your employer may not be sympathetic, and instead of having a job waiting for you when you’re released, your employer may give your job to somebody else. Your employer wouldn’t be breaking any laws in doing this.

How Employers View DUI Convictions

How do California employers view DUIs? It depends on who you work for and what industry you’re in. Many employers believe that someone who gets a DUI is irresponsible and exercising poor judgement. If an employee is a teacher, a school counselor, a physician, a nurse, a police officer, or someone in the public eye who is in a position of trust, the employer may face criticism if they do not take action. If it’s a sensitive matter, your employer might terminate you for an unrelated reason and never tell you that he or she was influenced by your DUI.

What if I Drive for a Living?

If you drive a company vehicle, your chances of losing your job are greater. If your license is suspended for a DUI, you will not be able to perform your duties. When you get your license back, your employer may not be able to insure you because your DUI makes you a “high-risk” driver, or the company may have a strict policy against employing drivers with DUI convictions.

If you do lose your job because of a DUI and you apply for another one, you have to consider this: If an employer is choosing between you and another applicant who is equally qualified, a DUI may tip the scale towards hiring the other person.

If you have been arrested and are worried about how a DUI could affect your job, contact an Orange County DUI attorney from the Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc.!

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