Does a DUI Affect Employment in Washington State?

If you picked up a charge for driving while intoxicated, you might wonder, “Does a DUI affect employment in Washington State?” Getting a DUI can impact your employment prospects, especially if your job requires you to have a special license (like a CDL). Other employers, like law enforcement agencies or childcare centers, may also restrict your ability to work with them if you have a criminal background that includes DUIs. But Washington law protects many people from having to disclose their past to employers until they advance in the hiring or interview scheme. Federal law also requires some employers to notify and get express consent from potential applicants before they run background checks. 

Picking up a DUI can significantly impact your ability to get or keep your job, but you still have rights. Veitch Ault Defense has spent decades advocating for people facing criminal charges like a DUI or DWI. Robert Ault leans on his extensive background working on the prosecution and defense side to achieve favorable outcomes for his criminal defense clients. Because of his excellent work, many clients have had their charges dismissed or greatly reduced. While he can’t guarantee a particular result in a given case, he uses every tool at his disposal to help get the best outcome under the circumstances. 

Does a DUI Affect Employment in Washington State?

Having a DUI on your record may impact your ability to get or keep a job, but it depends on the type of job and how old the conviction is. Moreover, the type of DUI on your record (e.g., misdemeanor or felony) may influence the consequences on your job prospects. The individual company’s hiring policies may also affect whether a DUI prevents someone from getting or keeping a job at that business. Additionally, employment positions like commercial truck drivers make it difficult or impossible for people to keep their jobs if they have a DUI. Again, this may depend on how many DUIs the person has, what kind of charges they are (felony or misdemeanor), and the company’s policies. 

Finally, if you pick up a Washington State DUI, you may have to go to court to defend the charges or serve a prison sentence, both of which can impact your ability to attend work. During this time, your employer may be unable to accommodate repeated requests for time off. The court may also restrict your right to travel to places within Washington or to leave the state or country. These restrictions on your time and travel may jeopardize your position with the company or limit your options when applying for a new job. 

It’s important to note that Washington has laws that protect people from employment discrimination based on their criminal background. Federal law also has rules that help put people on notice if their employer runs background checks and uses the information to make employment decisions. 

What Are a DUI’s Consequences on Employment?

Getting or having a DUI on your record can significantly impact your employment status. For example, under Washington law, someone can lose their commercial driver’s license for up to one year if they pick up a DUI or were driving a commercial vehicle while the concentration of alcohol in their system was more than 0.04%. A second violation may result in them losing their CDL permanently. Having a DUI may not be as impactful for other delivery drivers (like takeout restaurant chains). Similarly, employers may overlook your DUI if the job doesn’t involve driving. 

There might be other employment consequences of having a DUI. For example, you might have to take time off work to prepare for trial or serve a prison sentence. Depending on the length of the sentence, the employer may not be able to hold your job open for you while you’re away. Additionally, having to take care of DUI charges or serve a sentence can limit your opportunity to apply and interview for a new job. If the court restricts your ability to travel throughout the state or leave the state, you may not be able to perform important tasks that your job requires you to do. 

What Are an Employee’s Rights When a DUI Appears on Background Checks?

Washington law typically doesn’t let anyone remove a DUI from their record (some exceptions may apply to people arrested when they were young). That means a DUI is likely to show up on a background check indefinitely. But that doesn’t mean your current or prospective employer can always use your criminal background to make hiring decisions. 

Under the federal Fair Credit and Reporting Act, employers who use a third party to run background checks and credit reports must tell applicants first. Before they can legally request someone’s criminal record, they need to get the person’s express permission. Additionally, they need to be transparent about how they use the information they get from the credit report and background check. The applicant can refuse the test, but this may impact their eligibility for the job. 

Washington law provides further protection for those applying for jobs. Under the law, employers can’t ask about someone’s criminal background until the employer determines the person qualifies for the position. What’s more, employers can’t advertise job openings in a way that discourages people with a criminal record from applying. Additionally, most businesses can’t include a question about someone’s criminal history on a job application.

Exceptions to this prohibition include jobs where someone will have access to children or drive a commercial vehicle (where having a DUI may impact someone’s eligibility for a CDL). Law enforcement officers and volunteer workers also may not get the protections under this critical law. Furthermore, if a collective bargaining agreement or union is part of the equation, it may override the legal protections under Washington law. 

If You Have a DUI, Does Washington Law Require Disclosure When Applying for a Job?

In most cases, Washington law prevents employers from asking someone about their criminal record, including any DUIs they have. In turn, most employees don’t have to disclose DUIs or other criminal charges (like reckless driving charges) they picked up in the past. However, volunteers, childcare workers, police officers, and commercial truck drivers may have to disclose convictions on their records. Moreover, a collective bargaining agreement or union contract term may require employees to disclose their criminal records. 

Having a DUI on your record doesn’t mean you can’t get or keep every job you have or apply for. Consider hiring a knowledgeable Washington DUI attorney to understand your legal right to work and keep your information private. They can review your situation and give you pointed advice about what is possible, given your background and experience. A criminal defense lawyer can also advocate for you in court to help minimize the impact of a DUI conviction on your employment opportunities. 

Can You Lose Your Job Due to a DUI Conviction? 

Losing your job is possible if you pick up a DUI or have a DUI on your record. It depends on the type of job you have, the class of DUI in your background, and the company’s hiring and firing practices. For example, if you have a job requiring an active commercial driving license, getting a DUI may cause you to temporarily or permanently have it taken away. In turn, you may become ineligible for your job. 

How Do Employers Find Out About DUI Charges? 

Employers can learn about DUI charges at many stages of the employment relationship. Before you get the job, they can learn about it on a criminal background check. Employers may find out after you get the job because the information gets out and circulates through the office. Or your employer may already have a policy in place that requires disclosure. 

Before You Get the Job

Before you get a job, your potential employer can find out about DUIs on your record by running a criminal background check. Washington law doesn’t let most employers ask for this information up front, but they still can look at someone’s criminal record after they decide someone qualifies for the job. But those applying for a job as a police officer, childcare worker, or volunteer may have to answer questions about their records even before advancing in the interview process. 

After You Get the Job

Employers can also find out about someone’s record after the person gets the job. The company’s internal employee handbook may require them to notify their boss if they pick up a criminal charge. Or the employer may find out by word of mouth. Another situation where the company may discover that someone was charged with a DUI is if they have to take off work to go to trial or jail. 

Can You Get Hired With a DUI on Your Record?

It’s common for people to have questions about a DUI and their job prospects. Getting a job is possible if you have a DUI on your record, but there’s no mistake that some doors may be closed. Those who need a commercial driver’s license may not be able to keep theirs if they get a conviction for driving with alcohol or drugs in their systems. Additionally, some businesses may have a policy that disqualifies people from working there if the person has a felony DUI or similar charge. In those cases, someone with a criminal background that includes a DUI may have limited options. 

Veitch Ault Defense: Exceptional DUI Attorneys Serving Washington State

Mistakes happen, and it’s easy to misjudge how much you’ve had to drink before you get behind the wheel. A DUI doesn’t mean you’re a bad person or you aren’t worthy of keeping your job. While DUIs can carry real-life consequences, like fines, jail time, and becoming ineligible for a job, those charged with these crimes still deserve a fighting chance to live their life to the fullest. And that’s where Veitch Ault Defense comes in. 

Everyone at our firm devotes their time and energy to helping people accused of crimes understand and keep their rights. We know the figurative and literal trials people face when they’re charged with a DUI, and we’re here to ease that struggle while aggressively fighting for our clients in court and during negotiations with the prosecution. Our team includes Robert Ault, named by Seattle Metropolitan Magazine as one of the Top Attorneys in Washington in 2021. 

If you’re facing a DUI or DWI in Washington, you need us by your side. Contact a King County DUI attorney on our team today by calling 425-312-6753 to schedule a consultation. 


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