Government jobs can be hard to get. There are a lot of applicants for these jobs because they are secure, pay well, and have great benefits. Getting through the application and interview process can take a lot of time. It is a shame to go through all that work to be denied just because you have a DUI on your record.
A DUI conviction is not necessarily a bar to a government job. However, some criminal convictions may prevent you from getting a California state or federal government job. A criminal record can also make you a less attractive candidate compared to a similar applicant without a criminal record. If you are arrested for a crime in California, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney for legal advice.
Will a Drunk Driving Arrest Prevent Me From Getting a Government Job?
An arrest is not the same as a conviction. With a drunk driving arrest, it means the police officer believed they had probable cause that you were driving under the influence (DUI). However, you have the right to have your case heard before a judge or jury. If you are found not guilty or never prosecuted, you won't have a DUI on your criminal record. In most cases, applicants don't have to report arrests that did not end in a conviction.
If you are tried before a jury and they find you are guilty, you will be convicted. Pleading nolo contendere is also considered a guilty plea. Pleading guilty as part of a plea agreement is generally considered a conviction. However, if you are eligible for diversion, drug court, or other sentencing alternative, you may be able to avoid a conviction if you complete the terms of deferred judgment.
When You Might Have to Report an Arrest Before Conviction
There are some sensitive government jobs that may require reporting a drunk driving arrest. Government clearance holders generally have to report any arrest and charges to their supervisor or employer at the first available opportunity. If you have an arrest on your record but were never convicted, you may have to report it as part of your security clearance application.
Just because you have to report an arrest does not mean that you will automatically lose your security clearance or be denied. However, you should follow any reporting requirements because failure to disclose can be much more damaging than the arrest itself. You should also seek out an experienced DUI defense attorney to make sure the arrest does not result in a conviction.
Government Jobs That Require Driving
If you are arrested for a DUI, the California DMV will suspend your license unless you request a hearing. If you are required to drive as part of your government job, you will have to tell your employer about the license suspension.
To avoid a suspended license, talk to your East Bay DUI defense attorney about requesting an administrative license suspension (ALS) hearing. An ALS hearing is separate from a criminal case and goes through the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). After a DUI arrest, the police will take your license and give you a temporary permit good for 30 days. However, you only have 10 days after an arrest to request a DMV hearing.
What Does the Government Consider for Applicants With a Criminal Record?
Not all criminal convictions are an automatic bar from getting a government job. However, it can make it more difficult to be selected from a pool of other qualified applicants. The restrictions may depend on how much the conviction is related to the job. In considering applicants with a criminal history, government representatives may consider several factors, including:
- Nature of the offense
- Gravity of the offense
- Time passing since the offense
- Nature of the job
As part of the background check, government agencies can consider several factors in determining your eligibility for the job. These factors can include:
- Conduct and character
- Relation of the criminal charges to job duties
- Potential employment conflicts
- Public trust
- National security
- Nature and circumstances of your crimes
- Extent of your criminal record
- How much time has passed
- Rehabilitation efforts
Will the Government Find Out About a Past Arrest?
Certain government jobs are subject to "Ban the Box" laws that prohibit certain employers from requiring applicants to disclose arrests or criminal background as part of the job application. However, it may still be allowed in some positions, including law enforcement, positions with access to classified information, or other government jobs that consider criminal background.
After a conditional job offer has been made, government agencies can generally ask about criminal histories. Even if the applicant doesn't disclose any convictions, the government employer will generally do a background check. A government background check may be much more extensive than for a private employer.
Some background checks, including security clearance and public trust positions, require the applicant to identify more than just convictions. For example, as part of the Form 85 or Form 85P, the questionnaire asks:
- Have you been arrested by any police officer, sheriff, marshal or any other type of law enforcement official?
As part of the background check, it will likely turn up any arrest, even if it didn't end in a conviction. If you are questioned about an arrest or conviction on these government forms, be honest. Failure to be truthful in your application, dishonesty, or failing to disclose an arrest can be grounds for denial.
What Crimes Are an Automatic Denial for Government Jobs?
Some state and federal laws will make applicants ineligible for the job if they have certain criminal records. For example, charges of treason generally carry a lifetime ban on government jobs. Domestic violence convictions may limit government jobs involving firearms.
For a drunk driving offense, a simple DUI is generally not a permanent ban for government jobs. However, multiple DUIs or drunk driving combined with other offenses may act as an automatic ban.
For jobs that involve access to classified documents, jobs of public trust, or security clearance, multiple incidents involving the use or abuse of alcohol or drugs may indicate a threat to the public trust or security because of substance abuse problems.
For example, if you are looking for a government job in Oakland that requires a commercial driver's license (CDL), 2 CDL DUIs can result in a lifetime CDL ban. That would eliminate any CDL job opportunities in the future.
How a Lawyer Can Help You Fight a DUI
A conviction is much more serious than a DUI arrest. Before pleading guilty, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about your defense options to avoid a criminal conviction.
Lynn Gorelick has more than 40 years of East Bay DUI defense experience and understands how much is at stake for government workers after a drunk driving arrest. She understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success in avoiding a criminal conviction. If you are facing DUI charges anywhere in Oakland, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County, contact Lynn Gorelick.