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Can your California employer fire you over a DUI conviction?

On Behalf of | Jul 2, 2021 | DUI Defense |

The things you do while not working can sometimes directly affect your employment. For example, some people lose their jobs over social media posts when people that they hurt or offend contact their employer. If their employer has a rule about social media use or how workers represent the company while off the clock, the company may have grounds for termination after a social media snafu.

You may recognize that certain criminal charges could directly affect your employment, especially financial or violent offenses. However, impaired driving charges are often the result of traffic enforcement, not actually harming anyone else. Can your employer legally fire you for a drunk-driving conviction if it didn’t occur on the job?

California law protects those accused but not necessarily those convicted

Innocent till proven guilty doesn’t just apply in court. The stigma attached to criminal charges also affects your employment circumstances.

In most cases, your employer cannot legally fire you because of an arrest or a pending charge. State law protects those who might plead innocent and successfully defend themselves from consequences prior to conviction, as well as those arrested but never charged with a crime. However, if the courts do convict you or you plead guilty, your employer could potentially fire you.

What happens will depend on your employer’s internal policy

Pleading guilty might seem like a quick and easy way to address your pending driving under the influence (DUI) charges. If you don’t miss any days for court, your employer may not even know that you got arrested.

However, it’s important to look at your employment contract. Your company might routinely perform background checks randomly for employees. They may also do background checks as part of a performance review, promotion or raise request. If your employer has a clear policy against criminal convictions, they could terminate you. You may need to report the issue to your employer if you drive as part of your job. Your eligibility for licensing or insurance may change after a conviction.

Fighting back against a DUI does more to protect your job than just trying to avoid going to court. Before you risk the long-term career consequences of a drunk driving conviction, you might want to first look at your options for defending yourself.