Each day, more than 3,000 people are arrested for driving under the influence, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. In addition to facing criminal penalties and fines, getting convicted of driving under the influence can damage your career. You may even lose your job. Whether you face the possibility of job loss depends on a number of factors, including prior arrests or convictions, the type of job you have, and the terms of your employment.
Most employees in the U.S., including those in Maryland, work “at the will” of their employers, meaning an employee may be hired or fired for almost any reason or for no reason at all, in the absence of an express contract. Some employers have policies in place that allow for immediate termination if you are convicted of a crime. Such employment contracts usually require you to notify your employer of an arrest or conviction. As with any criminal charge, a DUI is public record. Additionally, many newspapers publish the names of people who are convicted of crimes. If your job entails driving a company vehicle, your company’s insurance provider will also take notice of the conviction and notify your employer about premium increases or loss of eligibility for insurance coverage.
Many professionals are required to maintain a professional license in order to work, including accountants, dentists, lawyers, pharmacists, physicians, and nurses. Some professional agencies have policies in place, including fines and sanctions, they can impose on you as a result of a DUI. For example, the Department of Health and professional licensing boards view physicians, nurses, and other licensed health professionals with DUI offenses as a risk to the public. If you are required to relinquish your professional license due to an arrest or conviction, you will also lose your career.
If you work as a person who is responsible for transporting others, such as a bus driver, cab driver, emergency vehicle operator, limo driver, or pilot, a DUI could result in the loss of your job. You could also lose your job if its requires you to maintain a commercial driver’s license. Most states prohibit commercial drivers from maintaining a commercial driver’s license if convicted of a DUI. In Maryland, your commercial driver’s license can also be disqualified before conviction if you receive a citation from law enforcement for having a high blood alcohol concentration level while driving a commercial vehicle. Furthermore, DUI convictions committed in a commercial vehicle remain on your commercial driver’s license record for 55 years.
In many jobs that require security clearance, such as jobs within departments of the federal or local governments, a DUI conviction can lead to termination. Security clearances are also commonly used in jobs in the private sector when an employee is entrusted with confidential information, such as jobs in information technology. The rationale behind termination is that an employee with a DUI appears to be less trustworthy as the crime demonstrates a lapse in judgement.
Similarly, many jobs require employees to adhere to a code of conduct both in and outside of work. If you are a teacher, for example, part of your job may be to serve as a role model to students. You may lose your job if you are arrested for or convicted of driving under the influence as it reflects poorly on your ability to fulfill that duty. Likewise, if you have a job in the public eye, you may be held to a higher ethical standard. A DUI conviction can lead to termination as it reflects poorly on your character and on the organization you represent to the public.
If your employer does not terminate you from your job, you may still face the possibility of job loss due to the effects of an arrest or conviction on your ability to perform work. For example, depending on when you are arrested, you may be absent from work and unable to provide notice for your absence. Likewise, having to appear in court on several occasions can lead to excessive tardiness and absences, warranting termination by your employer. If you are convicted, you may be required to do community service or serve a jail sentence. Courts can also impose mandatory alcohol and drug treatment. If your driver’s license is suspended, you may have difficulty getting to and from work. All of these consequences can impact your work schedule and may lead to job loss.
Kevin Marciano, Esquire, is the Managing Partner of Marciano & MacAvoy, P.C. Marciano focuses his practice on representing catastrophic injury victims, including claims for medical malpractice, pharmaceutical liability, motor vehicle accidents, wrongful death, product liability, premises liability, construction accidents, liquor liability, personal injury and mass tort class actions.