Virginia law makes DUI charges and convictions a matter of public record. This can create significant problems for job seekers, since a drunk driving arrest will show up on a routine pre-employment background check.
How Employers Use Background Checks in the Hiring Process
It has been estimated that 90-95% of employers run background checks for either some or all of their available job openings. Background checks can be ordered from law enforcement agencies or third-party data brokers. Employers should not adopt a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record. Instead, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends evaluations on a case-by-case basis.
The problem with a DUI conviction is that it can draw into question your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle for work-related purposes—creating a problem if you work in a field that requires regular business travel. If it's a second or third offense, a DUI may also cause your potential employer to believe you have a substance abuse problem.
Protecting Yourself From Discrimination
Virginia law prohibits employers from asking about criminal records that have been expunged. Unfortunately, while some states allow DUI charges to be expunged, Virginia only allows for expungement if you're later proven innocent or were wrongly accused of the crime.
The best way to protect yourself from the negative effect of a DUI charge on your future employment opportunities is to hire an experienced attorney. An attorney familiar with Virginia's DUI laws may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced. While the arrest will still show up on a background check, this will be much less damaging than a conviction. Employers are more likely to give a qualified candidate the benefit of the doubt when an arrest can be explained as an isolated misunderstanding.
To learn more about building a strong DUI defense, contact the Wilson Law Firm. Attorney T. Kevin Wilson, an experienced Northern Virginia DUI defense lawyer, is committed to helping clients minimize the impact of a DUI arrest on their future.