Can a DUI Arrest Affect Employment?

You’ve probably heard all about how a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs can affect housing, employment, job promotions, auto insurance, and professional licenses – and that’s all true. Like most states, California is an employment at will state, which means:

  • You can quit your job for any reason without notice.
  • An employer can let you go or fire you without notice, but not based on discrimination.
  • You can be fired if you’re convicted of DUI, even if it has nothing to do with your job.

So, you know you can be fired for being convicted of DUI. In fact, an existing employer has every right to fire you for being “found guilty” of DUI, especially if they think it’s bad for business. For instance, let’s say you work for a daycare facility and you’re arrested for DUI off hours, on a Saturday night. If your employer feels the DUI conviction makes her childcare facility look bad, she can let you go and she won’t be breaking the law.


“But what about applying for new employment?” Can an employer turn me down for a job based on a DUI arrest alone, or do I have to be convicted?” This is a very good question and it comes up a lot. Under California Labor Code Section 432.7, it says that employers cannot ask job applicants for information about arrests and detentions. They can only ask about actual convictions.

California employers cannot ask applicants about referrals to diversion programs, and employers are not supposed to seek out any arrest records that did not result in a conviction. If an employer does learn about a DUI arrest, the employer cannot use this information as a factor in hiring or terminating the employee. According to Sec. 432.7 of the Labor Code:

  • A prospective employer cannot use your DUI arrest as a factor to deny you employment.
  • An existing employer cannot fire you because of a DUI arrest that does not result in a DUI conviction.
  • If an existing employer learns of a DUI arrest that does not result in a conviction, the employer cannot use it as a factor to deny an employee a promotion.

It is against California law to use a DUI arrest as a factor when making decisions about hiring, terminating, and promoting an employee, but it is legal for an employer to ask an applicant or employee about arrests that led to the employee being released on bail, or out on their own recognizance while awaiting trial.

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