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. Curtis Basnight
    Nov 18, 2014 @ 07:12:48

    Funny; As a professional truck driver get a dui you lose your license your job. but a professional doctor or lawyer can operate and litigate. makes it all fair, um


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  9. Laura Petrie
    Oct 01, 2011 @ 18:35:36

    Don’t mention it. It will not show up after 7 years. If you are fired, at least you’ve made some money. But I’ve never fired anyone for a few years old DUI. Showing up for work high or drunk is another matter. Check your own record and know what to say if asked. There are dozens of cheap background companies to check this out.


  10. Nicole
    Sep 19, 2011 @ 09:14:44

    Cathi, if you subscribed to Anita Clew’s weekly newsletter, then you will get this post. The topics may not always apply to you specifically, but often they will, and you can get some great advice. Have a wonderful day!


  11. Melissa (ForstRose)
    Sep 16, 2011 @ 08:19:59

    I have never had to worry about what to answer but in some cases the question will be on an application or presented in an interview. In situations where all you are submitting is a resume then volunteering additional information that is not relevant to work history or the position applied for makes no sense. Those things will be on the application forms anyway like Mr Lowery mentioned for jobs that involve commercial driving positions. Even machine operation like forklift and construction jobs I think now check into alcohol and drug use convictions/arrests and whether there have been steps taken to get out of that behavior or if it is a habitual thing for job safety.


  12. Carl Lowery
    Sep 14, 2011 @ 14:36:43

    A commercial driver (truck driver, bus driver, pilot, locomotive engineer) under federal law must disclose any past OWI or DUI when applying for job. The employer themselves under the Federal Motor Carrier rules must list all employees with this past history and any remedial actions being taken in order to maintain their federal registration. Many commercial carrier insurance companies will not cover any commercial driver with said conviction. whether deferred or not, for the first five years following the conviction. A commercial driver not disclosing past convictions under the Federal Motor Carrier rules must be dismissed immediately after the employer discovers the driver did not disclose this information.


  13. Cathi Travis Fall
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 12:41:55

    I have never had a conviction in the state of California. I have had a conviction in Washington State 7 years ago.


  14. chris brown
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 08:54:44

    whether you add it or not,if the company does a backround check the D.U.I. will be on your backround check,i would NOT mention it,and IF they do a backround check,it should not be a dealbreaker,and if they ask why you failed to mention it,you tell them it is not a felony charge,or thought it was relevant to your employment


  15. Susan H
    Sep 13, 2011 @ 08:15:48

    Having a DUI, whether you have one now or it was a long time ago or not. I discussed with my husband, that they are saying if you have never had a DUI; your insurance will go down 65%, here in Michigan. So the discussion was, there must be more people with DUI’s, in order to come up with that plan. It tells me don’t drink and drive. I thank god my boys never ever had one!


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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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