Is a DUI Found in a Background Check?

This Post was updated on 8.24.15
Background CheckYou, unfortunately, were arrested and charged with a DUI. Now you are not only worried about criminal charges, but also fines and how this will affect your future. Will the DUI remain as a criminal charge and will you have it on your background check forever?

First and foremost, your immediate concern is going to be dealing with the arrest. Are you just going to accept the court’s decision or do you plan to fight the DUI charges? Next, you will need to pay any related fines. This could mean emptying out your savings or cashing in stocks or mutual funds if available.

Next, you are more than likely going to lose your license for some period of time. This can affect your job and lead to dismissal if driving is required. Most states today are “at will” employment states, meaning they can dismiss you for any cause without progressive discipline.

Finally, there is your background information. In most states, the driving charges will remain on your record for as long as 12 years. While these charges can be expunged, it is an exception. Furthermore, each additional violation, or repeat offenses, is cause for a more severe penalty. For instance, your state may only require a fine for the initial defense, whereas a second offender loses his or her license for a year and then has a breathalyzer attached to the car for another year.

While your driving record may be expunged or have the charges fall off after a dozen years, your criminal record will not. DUI is a serious offense, and will therefore be on your criminal record permanently. Here, it is important to distinguish the difference between an arrest and a conviction.

If you were merely arrested and the charges were later dropped, your criminal record will note this. However, if you were convicted, it will be there for any employer to see in the future. While most state have laws in place to prevent employers from denying an application due to a criminal record, there are jobs where you simply are unable to gain employment because of your criminal record.

Individuals sometimes try to lie on their employment applications hoping the employer does not actually conduct a background check, but the employee can then be immediately dismissed if it is found out that they did lie. It is best to be honest, explain the situation in full to the employer, and present yourself as having learned from the experience and something that will never happen again.

How Far Will Your DUI Charge Reach

Being arrested for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) is a very serious matter that will not only affect your immediate future but may also profoundly impact on the rest of your life. Not only will you face criminal charges, but you will likely have to pay fines, have your license suspended for a period of time, and may even face the possibility of spending some time in jail. Even after you have dealt with the immediate consequences, a DUI conviction may follow you into the future.

Immediate Impacts of a DUI Conviction

Before worrying too much about how a DUI or DWI conviction will affect your future, it is important to understand and deal with the immediate consequences this type of conviction can have. Some of the most common penalties for DUI are:

  • Monetary Fines
  • License Suspension and/or Revocation
  • Enrollment in Drug and/or Alcohol Education Classes
  • Required Use of an Ignition Interlock Device (IID)
  • Jail Time

All of these penalties will have an immediate impact on your life including your finances, ability to get around, your employment and, most importantly, your freedom. It is important to note that all states do have penalties for DUI convictions, but they are not all the same. Each state has its own set of consequences that will include some, all, or a combination of the outlined penalties above.

First Time DUI Offender Penalties

Many people believe that if they are a first time offender for DUI or DWI they will not face the same consequences as repeat offenders. While this is true in some cases, some states carry DUI penalties for first time offenders that are more serious than those for repeat offenders in other states. Here is an outline of some of the penalties first time offenders will face by state:

  • Arizona: 90 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment
  • Colorado: 3 Month License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • Washington, D.C.: 90 Day License Suspension, Possible IID Requirement
  • Hawaii: 3 Month License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • Indiana: 180 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible IID Requirement
  • Kentucky: 30 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible IID Requirement
  • Maryland: 60 Day License Suspension, Possible IID Requirement
  • Nevada: 90 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • New Jersey: 3 Month License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • North Dakota: 90 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • Ohio: 6 Month License Suspension, Possible IID Requirement
  • Pennsylvania: 1 Year License Suspension
  • Tennessee: 1 Year License Suspension, Possible Vehicle Confiscation
  • Vermont: 90 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education
  • West Virginia: 6 Month License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement

DUI Conviction on Your Driving Record

After you have dealt with all of the immediate consequences of DUI, there may still be some long-term consequences for your actions. One of the most serious implications of a DUI conviction is having the conviction listed on a driving record. Having this type of charge on your driving record may affect those who drive as a primary function of their job or those seeking jobs where the primary function is driving.

DUI convictions generally drop off a person’s driving record after a period of 12 years. It is possible to get the conviction expunged from the driving record but this may take some extra effort on behalf of the individual by the attorney. It is also important to keep in mind that, even if first offense penalties are minor, repeat offenders will face more serious consequences, such as longer license suspension, higher fines, having to use an Ignition Interlock Device, and even jail time, not to mention the additional convictions will remain on the driving record for a longer period.

While a DUI conviction can be expunged from an individual’s driving record, it will likely not be removed from the individual’s criminal record, and will become permanent. Having this criminal record can have more implications that will affect the person’s future including their employment. Individuals with a criminal record find it more difficult to keep their current employment, seek new employment, advance their careers, apply for loans and other financing as well as qualify for certain government services.

Repeat Offender DUI Penalties

As mentioned earlier, the penalties for second of third time offenders of DUI are much harsher in most states than those consequences assigned to first time DUI offenders. Often this means higher fines, longer license suspension, and longer jail time. Here are some examples of repeat offender penalties for the same states as listed above to show the progression in severity:

  • Arizona: 90 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Vehicle Confiscation for 3rd Offense, Possible IID Requirement for 2nd Offense
  • Colorado: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • Washington, D.C.: 1 Year License Suspension, Possible IID Requirement
  • Hawaii: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • Indiana: 180 Day License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible IID Requirement
  • Kentucky: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible IID Requirement
  • Maryland: 120 Day License Suspension, Possible IID Requirement
  • Nevada: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • New Jersey: 2 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement
  • North Dakota: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 2nd Offense, Possible IID Requirement
  • Ohio: 1 Year License Suspension, Alcohol Treatment Assessment for 3rd Offense, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 4th Offense, Possible IID Requirement
  • Pennsylvania: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment for 2nd Offense, Possible Vehicle Confiscation, Possible IID Requirement for 2nd Offense
  • Tennessee: 2 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 2nd Offense, Possible IID Requirement
  • Vermont: 18 Month License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education, Possible Vehicle Confiscation for 3rd Offense
  • West Virginia: 1 Year License Suspension, Mandatory Alcohol Education/Treatment/Assessment, Possible IID Requirement

The Difference between a DUI Conviction and a DUI Arrest

Having a DUI conviction on your criminal record is a serious matter but DUI arrests do not have the same implications. If you were arrested for DUI, went to court, and the case was dismissed or the charges were dropped, this will not be noted on your criminal record. If you were arrested and convicted, however, that arrest and conviction will be visible on your criminal record. Many different organizations regularly review criminal records, so having this listed could have serious consequences.

It is important to note that most states have laws in place to prevent employers from denying an individual’s application or employment based on what is found on their criminal record during a background check. Even though this is the case, some jobs simply cannot allow those with a criminal background to be employed – some of these occupations may include healthcare occupations, jobs at child centers or schools, or positions that work with the elderly or those with special needs.

Taryn J. White

About Taryn J. White

Taryn J. White is a legal research specialist and DUI law news reporter. Her current accomplishments include helping those facing any driving under the influence arrest charges, get free online assistance in learning how to fight a DUI case for the best possible outcome.

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