Will I Lose My Job Because of a DUI? Although you won’t find “loss of job” listed in the DUI penalty statute, a DUI arrest can have a devastating impact upon your continued employment. If you need to drive to get to work, or in the course of your job, a DUI arrest sets in motion two ways you can suffer due to loss of your license: (1) administratively at the hands of the Department of Licensing and (2) by court action if you are subsequently convicted of DUI. There is a twist: Under the “Ignition Interlock Law” upon timely application to the Department of licensing, an individual may continue to drive, without interruption, so long as the vehicle he/she is driving is equipped with an ignition interlock device. The new law provides an exception to the ignition interlock requirement for employees driving employer — owned vehicles on legitimate company business. However, depending upon the circumstances, there may be a “waiting period” before one is eligible for the employer exception, and this will prevent a person from driving a work vehicle for a period of time.
License suspension due to a DUI arrest poses an additional concern especially if you drive a company car: You are required to file “proof of financial responsibility” (SR22 insurance) with the department of licensing for three years. Some employers view drivers who are required to file SR22 insurance as “too risky” to entrust with company cars.
As a practical matter, if your job involves traveling and you must rent cars in destination cities, the DUI arrest itself can cause huge problems. Recall that upon a DUI arrest with a breath test of .08 or higher or a breath test refusal, the Department of Licensing issues a suspension that becomes effective 60 days after the arrest (be sure to timely request a hearing to fight the suspension). The driver can apply for an “ignition interlock license” and the “employer exception” that will permit the driver to drive on company business, even vehicles that are rented pursuant to business. However, there is a practical proble because the ignition interlock license doesn’t look like a license at all — it is a full size sheet of paper that declares itself to be a license. Click here to see the ignition interlock license, and ask yourself whether a car rental company will rent a vehicle when this license is presented by the driver. Additionally, the ignition interlock license itself cautions the driver that the license may or may not be valid in any other state. For business travelers, many of these considerations mitigate in favor of requesting a hearing to contest the administrative suspension. A victory at this hearing would avoid all of the above problems unless there ultimately is a conviction on the underlying DUI.
There are some careers that will be jeopardized by a DUI arrest or conviction for reasons other than loss of the ability to drive. Corporate officers, public figures, professional athletes,or employees with security clearances or in sensitive positions may find, if the matter comes to the attention of the media, that the impact of the resultant adverse publicity is more damaging to the career than the actual “legal” consequences of a DUI. The author of this article has represented individuals so situated. Such cases must be defended well and handled carefully, with the objective of preserving the career while minimizing potential legal consequences.
If you have fears about the impact of a DUI arrest or conviction upon your career, you should first determine, by obtaining the advice of experienced DUI defense counsel, the true potential consequences of your arrest and, with your lawyer, map out the best legal defense to the charge. Next, determine what the corporate policy is in the event of a DUI arrest or conviction so that you will not be terminated for failing to report an arrest IF you are required to do so. Take no steps without adequate professional advice. In some cases, additional steps might include contacting a union representative, or seeking independent representation by a lawyer versed in employment law.
Questions? Call Jon Fox at (425) 274-9190