If you have been arrested for DWI, you may have several concerns about what will happen next. One of the questions you may have is whether you can lose your job as a consequence of your arrest or conviction. Depending on what your job is and the standards to which it holds its employees, a DWI arrest or conviction could put your employment status in jeopardy. Read more to find out what grounds for termination could be, which jobs may be at risk, and how an attorney can help.
If you are concerned about losing your job after being arrested for DWI, one of the first things you should do is check your employment contract. Your contract may outline that any arrest is grounds for immediate firing, but some states say that you can only be fired if you are convicted of a crime—not arrested for one. If you are employed “at will”, you can be dismissed at any time for any reason. In these cases, if your employer learns of your arrest you can be fired, even if it’s not in your contract and your arrest does not affect your job performance.
Driver's licenses and professional licenses
When you are arrested for DWI, you may have your license suspended for a certain period of time. If you are employed as an over-the-road trucker, a cab driver, or any other profession that requires driving, this means that you will be unable to complete your job and could be grounds for termination. Even if you are issued a hardship or conditional license, you may not be able to fulfill the duties of your job without a full license.
In some cases, if your job requires a professional license, being arrested or convicted of DWI may cause the licensing agency to revoke your license
. These agencies, such as the ones that issue professional licenses to doctors, lawyers, and accountants, have certain standards to which professionals must adhere in order to remain licensed. For example, being convicted of a felony DWI could cause a lawyer’s license to be revoked.
Ethical standards and effects on job performance
If you work in a profession that holds its employees to a higher standard, such as in education, a DWI may put your job at risk. Because people like teachers and professors are held to higher ethical standards, an arrest or conviction for DWI reflects poorly on both the employer and the employee as a role model. This means that the employee may be fired for violating the high ethical standards of the position.
Although you may not be dismissed from your job because of the DWI specifically, the effects your arrest or conviction could have on your job performance may lead to termination. Court times may disrupt your work schedule and your suspended license can affect your ability to get to work. Additionally, you may feel the need to cover up your absences from work and, if your dishonesty is discovered, you may be dismissed for not being honest.
How an attorney can help
An experienced DWI attorney can help you to maximize your chances of staying employed throughout the legal process. The right attorney will be able to help you keep your court appearances to a minimum, as well as help you to get a conditional or hardship license as a solution to your transportation problems. Your attorney can also advise you on how to communicate with your employer about your situation in an honest way without giving away more information than is necessary.
This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.