Disclosure of a DUI

A reader writes…

Hi Anita,
When applying for a job, do I have to list the fact that I got a DUI (a long time ago)?


Dear, “DUI,”

This is a good, yet tricky, question, and answers will vary depending on the situation and location.

If an application specifically asks if you were ever convicted of a misdemeanor, the only correct answer is “yes.” Trying to hide this kind of stuff never goes over well in the end.  Many companies will run a background check on you before offering a full-time position – which will reveal any misdemeanors and/or felonies.   Be prepared to talk about your specific situation during the interview.

I suggest you lay all your cards on the table upfront.  Depending on the severity of the penalty (and the timeframe involved) you may be ok.  Stating one thing on an application, however… only to “let the cat out of the bag” in a background check, makes you look foolish and sneaky.

Many applications will ask, “Have you ever been convicted of a felony?” Whether your DUI is considered a ”felony” as opposed to a “misdemeanor” depends on many factors, including the number of offenses, the level of blood alcohol registered in the breath test, and if others were injured in an accident.

I suggest you consult a DUI attorney to assess your specific situation.

I did a little research and found that some states institute a felony classification if there are multiple DUI offenses.  In New York and Wyoming, for example, 2 DUI convictions within a 10-year period are considered a Class E felony.  Georgia and Texas also classify multiple DUI offenses as felonies, but only upon the fourth conviction. Classifications and penalties involved may vary by state, so again, you should check with a lawyer.

I hate to say it, but a DUI on your record is sort of like wearing a big “X” on your forehead.  You may have paid fines and taken classes to clean the slate… but this does not eliminate the fact that you’ve had a conviction.

I previously wrote an article called, “Finding jobs for ex-felons” that may be a good reference for some readers:  http://anitaclew.com/2010/12/16/finding-jobs-for-ex-felons/

My final words of advice to everyone out there….
Don’t drink and drive.


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Michele
    Mar 31, 2015 @ 19:28:13

    More employers only go back 10 years, and most are looking for felonies not misdemeanors , it does depend what job you are looking for. Teachers, healthcare workers, government jobs, driving job etc.. may go back further.If it has been 10 years or more I would not disclose it as it probably won’t come up. You don’t need to have this haunt you for the rest of your life. If it is a felony chances are that will show up, but all is not lost depending on what you have been doing since you got out and if there are recurring events. My friend has a felony on his record for something really bad spent 7 years in prison and now is working for the state. There are some states that you do not have to disclose an arrest if it has been more than 7 years. Check with each state.


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Anita Clew's blog posts are intended for general guidance and should never be taken as legal advice. In all instances where harassment, inequity, or unfair treatment is believed to be present, please consult your HR Department or legal representation.
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