12 Questions Answered About DUI and Background Check

Most employers today use some type of background check before they make an offer for a job to an applicant.

Employers and others may conduct background checks on applicants as well as current employees for a variety of reasons. Depending on the methods used to conduct the background check, it may expose a DUI arrest or conviction. The employer’s ability to conduct such background checks, how they are used and whether a person’s criminal history can be used against him or her depends on a number of factors including state law.

Some of the common questions and our answers to them are discussed below.

Questions Answered About DUI and Background Check
Who Uses Criminal Background Checks?

Many individuals may use criminal background checks. Most often, this includes employers who use the information to determine whether to hire a person or to review a current employee’s record, professional associations to determine whether to license a particular person, and admissions offices to determine whether to accept a person as a student to their institution.

Most states require criminal background checks for certain kinds of jobs, including positions that involve working with children, the disabled, or the elderly.

It is perfectly legal for an employer to consider a conviction for DUI when determining whether to hire a person or to make other decisions that may impact him or her. However, state law may provide some additional protections to individuals with convictions.

Is a DUI Considered a Crime?

Yes, a DUI is considered a crime. The seriousness of the crime depends on whether the crime falls under the felony or misdemeanor classification.

Does a DUI Show Up on a Criminal Background Check?

A DUI may show up on a criminal background check. Background check programs and companies often gather public information from sources such as:

  • Court records
  • Records with law enforcement agencies
  • Incarceration records
  • Vehicle registration information
  • Driving records

Background check programs may also consider information provided by an applicant. For example, the applicant may specify which states he or she has previously resided in. The background check company may then search just these areas for any convictions. Background checks may also take information from the internet, possibly including online public records and social networking sites.

In addition to DUI showing up on a person’s record, other related charges may show up, such as DWAI. In some cases, a DUI conviction may not show up on a criminal background check if the conviction occurred a long time ago. However, criminal convictions can lawfully be disclosed indefinitely.

Will a Pending DUI Show on a Background Check?

DUI arrests may not always show up on background checks. Background checks performed by outside companies are subject to the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. This law prohibits the disclosure of criminal arrests that occurred more than seven years ago. However, those who make higher incomes may not be protected by the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Some states have laws that prohibit employers from asking about arrests that did not result in a conviction.

Can You Pass a Background Check with a DUI?

You may be able to pass a background check with a DUI. An arrest for a DUI that does not result in conviction is not indicative of criminal conduct. If you were convicted, the conviction may not serve as an absolute bar to employment. If the job that a person is applying for does not involve driving, the conviction may not prevent the applicant from being offered the job.

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Background Check?

A DUI may stay on a person’s background check indefinitely.

Questions Answered About DUI and Background Check

How Bad Is a DUI on Your Record?

How bad a DUI is on your record depends on a number of factors, including:

  • How long ago the DUI arose
  • Whether the DUI was charged as a misdemeanor or felony
  • Whether the job involves driving or other compelling reasons why hiring someone with a DUI conviction would put the employer at heightened risk

A DUI conviction can negatively impact your career, especially if you have a commercial driver’s license or you have to drive as an essential function of your job.

What Does a DUI Do to Your Record?

A DUI can result in the employer or other entity denying employment or taking other adverse action against the individual. If a commercial driver committed a DUI on the job, he or she can be prohibited from being a professional driver for a long period of time.

Can an Employer Deny Me a Job Because of What Is in My Criminal Background Check?

Federal courts and the EEOC have held that employers cannot create blanket policies against hiring anyone who has a criminal record because of the disparate impact such policies have on minority applicants. At least 14 states have legal standards in place that require an employer to show the relevance that a criminal conviction has on the ability to perform a certain job.

California and eight other states allow a person to receive a certificate of rehabilitation for employment purposes after being convicted of DUI or other crimes, so that they can avoid some of the employment barriers that may result because of a criminal conviction.

Should I Lie About My DUI?

Some people may try to take their chance and hope that a DUI background check employment does not uncover the DUI. However, having a conviction for DUI may not result in the employer deciding not to hire the applicant, but the employer finding out later that the applicant lied could result in grounds for termination. It is not recommended to lie on an application.

Some states do protect applicants from having to disclose criminal records, especially if an arrest did not result in conviction. States across the country have initiated “ban the box” campaigns to remove questions regarding criminal records from employment applications. In these states, applicants may not be required to disclose such records.

Can I Get a Criminal Arrest or Conviction for DUI Off My Record?

Some states provide mechanisms for a person to remove a DUI conviction. For example, in California, a person can file a motion to withdraw a guilty plea or set aside the verdict after completing probation for DUI. Most states allow for the removal of criminal records associated with an arrest that did not result in conviction.

In some situations, a person may be able to expunge his or her criminal record. However, many states limit this process only to records pertaining to arrests that do not result in conviction. If records are expunged, criminal background checks may not be able to locate the DUI.
However, expungement has its limits. For example, expunging a record does not reinstate a person’s suspended driver’s license or remove points that a DUI puts on a person’s license.

How Can I Avoid a DUI Conviction?

To avoid having to ask the question “Will a DUI show up on a criminal background check?” a person can learn about ways to avoid a DUI conviction in the first place. If you have been charged with DUI, it is important that you take immediate action and contact a DUI criminal defense lawyer.

There is a limited amount of time that you have to contest the administrative process of losing your driver’s license. Once your license is taken away, a public record may be created documenting this occurrence. An experienced DUI lawyer can investigate your case and determine if there are valid defenses to raise, such as the stop being unlawful or test results being inaccurate.

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