Can a DWI Affect My Employment?

A conviction for driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina can carry many negative consequences, including fines, loss of your driving privileges and, possibly, time in jail. Of course, a DWI conviction – or even just an arrest – could also hurt your ability to earn a living. If you or a loved one recently were arrested for a DWI in Raleigh, you should consider the following ways in which the DWI could affect your employment.

Your Current Job

North Carolina is an “employment-at-will” state. This means that your employer can fire you for any reason or for no reason at all – unless the firing violates a contract, anti-discrimination statute or other law. So, if you are arrested and/or convicted for a DWI, your employer could fire you.

It will depend on your specific circumstances. For instance, if you work for a local, state or federal government agency, you might face an automatic suspension or dismissal. If you work in the private sector, your employer may have a policy that requires your dismissal if you are arrested for any offense, including a DWI. You should check your employee handbook to determine the policy at your place of work. Of course, if you need to drive as part of your job – for example, you are a delivery driver or a landscaper who drives from home to home – your job may be in jeopardy.

You may wonder, “Do I have to tell my employer about my DWI?” Again, check your employee handbook first. Your employer may have a reporting requirement. If the handbook is silent about it, you should strongly consider the risks you face if you don’t report it. For instance, do you really want your employer to learn about the DWI from someone other than you?

Your Ability to Drive to (and for) Work

A DWI arrest could lead to a short-term or long-term loss of your North Carolina driver’s license. Obviously, if you need to drive to work, regularly drive as part of your work or carry a commercial driver’s license (CDL), the loss of your driving privileges could be disastrous. However, depending on the facts in your case, you may be eligible for limited driving privileges. You should immediately contact an experienced Raleigh DWI lawyer and learn more about your ability to get pre-trial and post-conviction driving privileges.

Your Professional License

If you need to have a professional license or certification to do your job, a DWI charge could affect your status. It will depend on the licensing board’s rules and regulations. For instance, a DWI may lead to a review of your “fitness” to hold the license, or your status may depend on whether you are actually convicted of the offense. Most licensing boards allow you to go through a hearing process before anything happens to your license. You should consult with a lawyer as early as possible in that process in order to fully protect your rights and interests.

Your Future Job Prospects

Today, most public and private sector employers conduct criminal background checks before they hire anyone, or they may ask on the application whether you have ever been arrested or convicted of a felony or misdemeanor. In this sense, a DWI charge and/or conviction could potentially hurt your future job prospects.

One human resources expert, or “headhunter,” told PBS that people should be upfront about a DWI on their record when they apply for a job. “But don’t dwell on it,” the expert said. Instead, you should get the prospective employer to focus on “your clear commitment” to making the company a success and present the employer with strong referrals.

Additionally, to help your job prospects, you may be eligible to get your DWI accusation expunged if you are found not guilty. To learn more, please see this video in which attorney Seth A. Blum discusses eligibility requirements and the mechanism for expunging a prior charge or conviction in North Carolina.

Get Help from an Experienced Raleigh DWI Attorney Today

Your ability to earn a living is one of many direct and indirect ways in which a DWI in North Carolina could affect your life. If you are charged with a DWI, you should get help from a knowledgeable Raleigh DWI lawyer right away in order to protect your future. Contact Kurtz & Blum. We can start work on your defense today.