DWIs, Job Applications, and Expungements of Records

A DWI conviction can significantly affect your chances of gaining employment. If you have been charged with a DWI and are on the job hunt, it is possible that your prospective employer will conduct a background search and expose your arrest or conviction. If you hold a commercial driver’s license and your job requires it, the DWI could be particularly harmful. There are limits, however, to what kind of decisions prospective employers can make based on the results of a background check.

A DWI conviction can significantly affect your chances of gaining employment. A DWI conviction can significantly impact your employment opportunities.

Federal restrictions on background checks

All states are required to adhere to the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The FCRA prohibits the reporting of criminal arrests after a period of seven years. The reporting of criminal convictions may take place indefinitely. This means that if you were cleared of a DWI charge, there is a chance your prospective employer may not find out about the arrest (note that FCRA reporting restrictions only apply to jobs with a yearly salary of $75,000 or less). It may beneficial to speak with an attorney to make sure that, if possible, your record is wiped clean.

Federal courts often rule that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from denying employment to people who have a conviction unless there is a good business reason. Interpretations of the Civil Rights Act are not uniform, however, especially in relation to some state laws. 

State laws and background checks

Under the most state laws, employers are allowed to refuse employment to prospective employees with convictions on their records. Some states allow employers to refuse employment to applicants with arrests.

New York State has legal standards that require a public employer to prove why a conviction is relevant to the job being applied for. Additionally, New York and a number of other states apply this regulation to private employers as well. This means that if a conviction is not recent and does not seem to have any bearing on the potential job, the chances of being hired may be greater.

Those who run for public office or apply for professional licenses are required to disclose DWI convictions and other convictions, dating back 10 years. For some jobs, a DWI on your record does not necessarily mean that you will not be considered for a job, but it may affect your potential employer’s decision. Jobs that involve driving in a professional capacity will usually not allow an employee with a recent DWI on their record to work.

Background check information

Approximately 20 different pieces of information can go into an official background check. This information may include character references, neighbor interviews, incarceration records, driving records, criminal records, and vehicle registrations. Most states require background checks for certain jobs, such as those that involve children or the elderly.

Generally, if you are applying for a job, it is best to tell the truth. Some employers can overlook a DWI offense, but a lie being discovered will most likely end your candidacy for a job. It is important to consider that the Internet allows for more thorough background checks these days, and even if a DWI arrest does not show up on your record, a simple search on Google could result in your prospective employer finding about the arrest nonetheless.

Expunging a DWI from your record

It is not always an option, but some states allow DWI offenders to expunge their records. Expungement is a court-ordered process that helps people remove embarrassing events from their background information. While many states limit expungement to arrests that did not lead to a conviction, speaking with an attorney can let you know exactly what is possible given your particular situation. Additionally, if you have any other DWI-specific questions, a lawyer can help you understand exactly where you stand with respect to potential jobs, expungement, and background checks.

Experienced representation

Lipsitz Green Scime Cambria, located in Buffalo, has attorneys that are widely recognized as leaders in the field. Our performance is motivated by attaining the best possible outcome for each client. With more than 25 years of experience, the DWI lawyers at Lipsitz Green have in-depth knowledge of a client’s rights, the potential penalties that may arise, and the possible weaknesses in charges against a client. We also have a thorough understanding of the law as it relates to seeking an expungement of records in DWI cases. Lipsitz Green is dedicated to providing a tough and effective DWI defense. 

This article does not purport to give legal advice and is for informational purposes only.