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 your job requires driving, or you need to drive to get to work, 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 DOL action if you are subsequently convicted of DUI. There is a twist: Under the “Ignition Interlock Law” an individual may continue to drive, without interruption, so long as the vehicle is equipped with an ignition interlock device. SR22 insurance is on file with the DOL, and the appropriate application to DOL has been made along with payment of fees. The law provides an exception to the ignition interlock requirement for employees driving employer-owned vehicles on legitimate company business. 

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 30 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 problem because some rental companies might refuse to rent to a person who has a restricted license of this type. Additionally, the DOL advises that the interlock license may or may not be recognized by other states. These and other considerations make it advisable to timely request a DOL 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. Jon Fox of the Fox Law Firm has represented many individuals in this situation. 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