Does A DUI Affect An Employment Background Check?

black Image of scales on white background with the words, "calibrate the scales" overlaid. As with any set of scales, the scales of justice must, from time to time, be recalibrated. Total balance is never achieved, but all in the criminal justice and legal systems must strive for it as much as possible.

How many times have you been concerned about something going on your “permanent record”?  One of the biggest deterrents for bad behavior is sometimes what can have the worst potential for our futures. Many ask the question of whether having a DUI on your record can stop you from pursuing or succeeding, either in your current career or advancing in a new one.



An Atlanta car accident lawyer can confirm the effects of having a DUI do not stop when you are convicted. Having a conviction on your record can adversely affect many opportunities in your future. It can not only stop you from advancing or starting a career, but it can also limit your ability to receive certain licensure or a commercial driver’s license for years to come.


A background check is an account of someone’s history that is typically used for employers to minimize the risk of hiring someone who may have the propensity to behave badly. It can also single out someone who has a history of criminal behaviors or poor decision-making choices. There are all sorts of reasons why employers choose to check the history of those they might hire, and one of them is a driving record. If you want to get a career in any commercial driving field, having a DUI will likely ensure that you won’t get the job.

An employer has the right to do a background check on anyone they are considering bringing into their organization for a number of reasons, which may be valid or not. Whether your DUI will deter them from hiring you depends on how they do the background check and their personal standards for employment. Your DUI conviction might or might not be included in the background report. It is largely determined by how the organization makes hiring decisions and the laws that govern the state for which the background check is pulled.


The federal Fair Credit Reporting Act dictates what is shown on the background check. The FCRA only allows the reporting of any criminal arrests made within the previous seven years of records. But a criminal conviction such as a DUI can remain on your permanent record indefinitely. Also, the restrictions of the FCRA are limited to employment that has an earning cap of $75000 or less per year, and only if the employer uses an outside company to do the background check.


Even if your conviction is discovered, however, the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any employer from denying you employment according to prior convictions unless they can prove that they have a compelling and specific reason for refusing you employment.  The interpretation of the Act, however, differs from one state to the next. The biggest problem is that many employees have no idea what goes on during the hiring process, so proving that  they didn’t get the job because of their DUI conviction is very difficult to do.


How background checks work


There are over twenty different types of histories that can be on your official background inquiry. They may include vehicle registration, driving records, criminal records, neighbors’ interviews, incarceration records, character references and court records. Each state is different when it comes to the job application process and pre-employment questionnaire allowed.


So should you tell the truth about convictions? Most people struggle with whether they should lie and hope that their employer doesn’t find out about their criminal background. The truth is that you are better off being honest and forthright with your answers, rather than your employer finding out the truth either in the future or during a background check.


Even if your background check doesn’t uncover whatever secret you are hiding, the internet is a very powerful tool. You simply can’t erase what is put out there either by you or someone else through articles, social media, or otherwise. It is always best to assume that your secrets will be found out and to hope that if you are honest, they will hire you based on your credentials.


It is always best not to drink and drive, but if you have been arrested, or convicted of driving under the influence, you should assume that your future employers might find out. When applying for a position, it is best to be honest rather than hope your future employer won’t find out. It is much better to get hired without worrying about being discovered than to always be  praying your boss doesn’t find out.

Hugh Howerton