DUI Arrests and Government Employees
There are currently 65 million Americans with some form of criminal record, which works out to one in four working-age adults in this country. In 2016, there were 19,925 DUI convictions in Virginia, with an average blood alcohol content of 0.1452.
There’s a good chance that many of those convicted of DUI’s also had other consequences such as fines, jail time, crashed cars, and even lost jobs. But, what if you were simply arrested for a DUI in Virginia and not necessarily convicted? Can you lose your job? Depending on where you work, that’s a possibility.
Where You Work in Virginia Matters
Virginia is an at-will employment state, which means that a private employer can release an employee at any time, without giving them notice or a reason. There are a few exceptions. The first is if there is an employment contract, and the firing violates that contract. The second is if there is any discrimination involved in the firing based on age, sex, race, religion, handicap, or the filing of an OSHA safety complaint.
Those who work for a city or state agency may meet some additional requirements and regulations. Often, these employees are subject to an employment contract. Depending on your position and the terms of your contract, your job may be jeopardy from a DUI arrest.
If you work in a city or state government position related to transportation services, there could be a clause in your contract that allows for firing in the event of a DUI or drug-related arrest. If you work as a bus driver, mass transit operator, or pilot, you probably need additional licensing to meet the requirements of your position. Just by getting arrested for a DUI, you have endangered that licensed and could lose your job.
A job that requires a commercial license such as a CDL or a pilot’s license is going to have more stringent requirements. In some jurisdictions, a person might have the option of entering a special program and installing an interlock device to maintain a license. Getting this benefit might require some action on the part of your experienced DUI attorney.
When Driving is a Job Function
Even employees who don’t drive as their primary job function could lose a government job if they are no longer able to fulfill all of their duties. If a manager is required to visit various locations in the city or state, but cannot satisfy this duty because of a suspended license, this could be grounds for firing. Individuals who have had a DUI arrest may also be considered too risky to have a company car or to be covered by group auto insurance.
A Position Held to a Higher Standard
Some of city and state positions are considered high-profile, and a DUI arrest would reflect poorly on the organization. One example is teachers. A teacher that is employed by the county or city is held to a higher ethical standard because part of their position is to be a role model for the students and within the community at large. An arrest alone could be grounds for employment dismissal from one of these positions or to non-renew a contract. Other examples are police officers, building inspectors, and fire chiefs.
A Potential Ray of Hope
While this information may make the situation for DUI offenders seem bleak, this isn’t necessarily the case. Whether you were arrested for a DUI or arrested and also convicted, there may hope for your employment situation.
Based on the sheer number of misdemeanor and felony offenders now in the workforce, there has been a recent push to prevent employers from firing and rejecting applicants because of their past mistakes. There are exceptions, such as the ones we listed above, but many states and municipalities have decided to “ban the box” asking whether or not an applicant has a prior conviction. More than 29 states and 150 cities and counties will now consider a job candidates qualifications before any questions about criminal history. Fortunately, Virginia was added to that list in April 2015.
Getting arrested for a DUI in Virginia can be confusing and stressful. Contact the Pack Law Group at 540-586-7225 or online to find out how our team of knowledgeable and experienced Virginia DUI defense attorneys can assist you.