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Do I Have to Tell My Employer about my DWI?

February 14, 2015

If you face a driving under the influence (DUI) charge in New Jersey, you may be concerned about how the arrest will impact your ability to earn a living.

For instance, how will you get to work if you lost your driver’s license or if your vehicle was impounded or badly damaged in a crash?

Additionally, you may wonder:

  • Should I tell my employer about the arrest?
  • Will I need to tell future employers or potential employers about it?
  • Will a DUI tarnish my reputation as a professional?

You should take the following different factors into consideration.

A DUI Arrest is Not the Same as a Conviction

At the outset, you should remember: A DUI (or DWI) arrest is different from a conviction. A DUI conviction results from a finding or admission of guilt. A DUI charge merely serves as an accusation.

You may assert one or more defenses in your DUI case, including:

  1. The police lacked reasonable suspicion to stop your vehicle or detain you for sobriety testing.
  2. Police failed to properly administer a roadside sobriety test.
  3. The police did not watch you for 20 minutes before they administered breath testing to measure your blood alcohol content.
  4. The police obtained a statement from you in violation of your Miranda rights.
  5. Police used an Alcotest machine that was not in working order.
  6. The police and prosecution committed discovery and evidence rule violations.

In short: Although you may be arrested for a DUI in New Jersey, you may never be convicted of the offense. The absence of a conviction could impact your employment and your career.

Will I Lose My Job because of My DUI?

Generally, a DUI arrest is your own business – and nobody else’s business. You could choose to keep your arrest as a private matter and refrain from discussing the matter with your employer.

However, under some circumstances, disclosure of the DUI arrest may be advisable – if not required. You should find out whether your employer has a company policy about these matters.

Some employers state in their employee handbooks or inform you at the time of hiring that you must advise them if you are charged with a DUI or with any other traffic or criminal offense.

Military bases and other workplaces where government clearance is required typically have these policies. Additionally, if you must drive for work or use a company car, you may encounter this type of policy.

Many companies simply want to protect their brand or reputation. They may require their employees to meet high standards of conduct in their personal lives and mandate disclosure of a DUI arrest.

If your company has a policy that requires you to give notice of a DUI arrest, then you should comply with it. If you fail to do so, you could expose yourself to being fired or disciplined.

In some workplaces, an employer may withhold taking action against you until your case is resolved. Ultimately, if you avoid conviction, a DUI arrest may have no impact on your job at all.

Should I Tell My Future Employer about My DUI Arrest?

If you apply and interview for a new job, you should disclose your DUI arrest if the potential employer requests such information. Trying to keep the arrest and/or conviction a secret may only haunt you in the long run.

For instance, if you fail to disclose the DUI, it could harm the potential employer’s trust and confidence in you. The company may learn about the DUI, anyway, if it conducts background checks of prospective employees. The company may quickly remove you from its list of candidates.

Even if you are hired, the employer may learn about the DUI at a later date and fire you for dishonesty – not necessarily because of the DUI.

If you must disclose your DUI, or if you voluntarily choose to disclose it, you should be careful about how you discuss the matter.

For instance, you may wish to emphasize that you made an error in judgment and learned a valuable lesson from your mistake. You could also discuss the benefits of classes, counseling and treatment.

Will a DUI Arrest Impact My Professional Reputation?

A DUI arrest can carry a social stigma. Most of us would prefer to keep the matter private while it is in the process of being resolved.

However, if your work puts you in the public eye, you may find it difficult to keep the arrest private. For instance, you may work as a doctor, lawyer, teacher, clergy member or politician. Your career may depend, in large part, on your reputation within the community.

To minimize the harm from a DUI arrest, you should consider taking a multi-pronged approach that includes immediately seeking counseling for alcohol issues.

Depending on the nature of your work, you may wish to work with a public relations firm that can help to manage your reputation in the community, including your reputation online and in social media circles.

Additionally, you may have a professional license that could be at risk. You should hire a lawyer to guide you through the process of reporting your arrest and/or conviction and any disciplinary proceeding you may face.

Get Help from an Experienced New Jersey DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI in New Jersey, you need experience on your side. Contact Anthony J. Vecchio today to learn more about your legal rights and the steps he can take to pursue the best possible outcome for you.

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