Can I Lose My Job After a DUI?
If you’ve been arrested for DUI, you’re already aware of how this one incident can turn your entire life upside down. Fines, fees, court dates, attorneys, jail time…you’d think all this would prevent drivers from drinking and then getting behind the wheel. But the truth is astounding.
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is an often-committed crime in the state of Utah. As a matter of fact, there were nearly 10,500 arrests in 2015 alone. In addition to these arrests, there were 37 deaths from impaired driving in 2015, which accounts for 13% of Utah’s traffic-related fatalities.
It’s not unusual for the DUI arrest to be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the consequences someone will face for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. On average, the total of the fines and fees will be around $2,500. This doesn’t include longer-term effects of DUI such as higher insurance premiums, which, along with other expenses pushes the costs to well over $10,000. And even first time offenders in Utah are likely to be required to pay for and use an ignition interlock device on any vehicle that is registered to them.
After all those penalties and fines are paid, you may also face the very real possibility of job loss. Of course, there are a number of factors at play in any one situation, and each situation is different, based on the type of job you have, and the terms of your employment with your company.
Your Employment Contract
If you have an employment contract that specifies a mandatory firing policy for DUI arrest, then yes, you can lose your job immediately and with no warning or restitution. It may be written within your contract that you can not be fired for being arrested for DUI, but you can be fired upon conviction. You would need to have an experienced attorney review the contract to make absolutely sure.
Jobs in Transportation Services
If offering transportation services is your job, then you may lose your job due to your DUI. Cab drivers, limo drivers, bus drivers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, or pilots will lose their job because of driver’s license suspensions. It is common in these jobs to have an employment contract that specifies automatic termination as a result of any arrest involving your driving.
If you have a commercial license, pilot’s license, or any other type of specialty transportation license that is required for you to legally work, there may be an administrative process before your license is revoked after a DUI arrest. It is possible that installing an ignition interlock device will allow you to continue to maintain your specialty license, and continue working. This is the best possible scenario. If you are subsequently convicted of the criminal offense, though, you will likely find that your license will be revoked.
Driving as a Function of the Job
If you have a job that requires you to drive, and you can’t fulfill the requirements needed, you will likely lose your job. You may also find that, after a DUI conviction, your company no longer trusts you to perform your work safely. It may be possible that, if you are expected to drive and maintain a company vehicle, you are now too risky and too expensive for them to insure. Alternatively, the employer’s insurance company may refuse to insure you at any cost, and your employer would have to fire you.
There may be situations where you are required to travel for your job, but driving is not a sole function, such as in the case of a businessperson traveling to a seminar or a meeting in another location. If this is the case, your employer may choose to let you go because you are now a liability when you travel. It may no longer make good business sense to keep you as an employee after a DUI conviction.
And of course, some states like Utah, have a possible automatic suspension of driving privileges after a DUI arrest, subject to an administrative hearing, so the consequences in terms of your employment may be immediate.
Careers Requiring Professional Licenses
If your job requires a professional license, such as a lawyer, nurse, doctor or accountant, there may be agency standards in place that revoke the professional license when you are arrested. If this is the case with your profession, you could lose your job because you may no longer be licensed to practice within your chosen field.
Positions with High Public Standards
You may find, if you hold an executive position within a company, that even if driving has nothing to do with your job, your arrest reflects poorly on your character and your reputation. Think of the role of a school teacher. School teachers are held to high ethical standards because they are a role model to their students. Similarly, corporate officers, public figures, or any individual in the public eye may lose their job if the media, employer, or agency find out about the arrest. In these cases, a termination may be immediate, or the employer may decide to simply not renew that person’s contract when it is up.
DUI Arrest and its Effect on Your Work
Even if you are not immediately terminated due to your DUI arrest, it can still greatly impact your job. You may have to be in court several times on different occasions. If you are convicted, you may be required to perform community service. And of course, it is very possible that you will have to serve jail time. Additionally, you may be required to submit to alcohol or drug treatment. These are all things that will take you away from work.
If you are consistently missing days or hours of work because of dealing with your DUI, you may not be able to satisfactorily perform your work duties. If that is the case, your company may have to fire you.
In all of these situations, after a DUI arrest, you become more of a liability to your employer than a benefit. The risks of keeping you employed may outweigh what you bring to the job, and you may find yourself unemployed. This is only compounded after a conviction.