How a California DUI Affects Teachers

If you’re a California teacher who was recently arrested for driving under the influence (DUI), you are not alone. In December of 2010, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing took a look at data on five-year trends, which clearly showed that of all criminal offenses committed by California teachers, criminal alcohol offenses were the most prevalent.

November 2011 data for first-time alcohol offenses made up a whopping 28.61% of all offenses reported to the Division of Professional Practices (DPP), according to the Commission. In California, most, if not all professional licenses can be denied, suspended, or revoked due to a criminal conviction and teachers are aware of this fact.

This is why a DUI arrest will trigger fear in the hearts of teachers who made a mistake one Friday or Saturday night, off school property, after hours, and on their own personal time.

“Under Education Code section 44421, the Commission ‘shall privately admonish, publicly reprove, revoke or suspend for immoral or unprofessional conduct, or for persistent defiance and refusal to obey, the laws regulating the duties of persons serving in the public-school system, or for any cause that would have warranted the denial of an application for a credential or the renewal thereof, or for evident unfitness of service,’” says the Commission.

Under Section 44345(c), the Commission has the power to deny an application if the applicant is an alcoholic. And if a teacher is convicted of DUI, the Commission must review the facts surrounding the teacher’s conviction before deciding if it will take a disciplinary action. The Commission will also evaluate whether the offense is related to the teacher’s ability to perform their official duties in the context of teaching.

What does the commission consider in a DUI case?

  • If the conduct may adversely affect the fellow teachers, students, and the educational community.
  • How long it’s been since the misconduct.
  • The type of credential the individual has.
  • Any aggravating or mitigating circumstances.
  • The likelihood of the drunk or drugged driving recurring.
  • The publicity given to the misconduct.

The typical first misdemeanor DUI will not necessarily affect the teacher’s ability to perform their duties; however, it can happen. For instance, a district administrator can be arrested for DUI while driving for their work-related duties. Or, a particular DUI offense can make the paper, the news, or otherwise result in local publicity, destroying the teacher’s reputation and adversely affecting the local teaching community.

If you’re facing DUI charges, will it impact your credential? It depends on the facts of the case, but it could happen. To learn more and to fight your charges, contact our office to meet with a Board-Certified DUI defense specialist for free.

Related: How a CA DUI Affects Teachers’ Credentials

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