What If I Have a DUI Conviction?

Nancy Anderson
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The job search can be stressful enough without having to worry about a DUI conviction on your record. Before you let the blemish stress you too much, remember that George W. Bush got the job as president of the United States despite a drunk driving charge in 1976. When faced with a DUI conviction, keep these four tips in mind during your job search.

1. Explore the Possibility of Expunging

A drunk driving offense shows up in two places: your criminal record and your driving record. Do some research into whether your state allows DUI convictions to be expunged from your criminal record. If it's a possibility, contact a lawyer for help with the process. Some states, such as Arizona, expunge a first-time misdemeanor offense upon successful completion of probation, while other states, including Colorado, expunge DUI records for juveniles only. In Indiana, expungement of a misdemeanor DUI offense is possible after five years, and a felony offense is available for expungement after eight to 10 years.

2. Don't Broadcast It

You don't have to advertise the fact that you have a DUI conviction. Never make mention of it on your resume or cover letter. If you're filling out a job application that asks about criminal history, pay close attention to the wording. Some potential employers ask about specific offenses. Others only ask you to disclose felonies. If this is the case and your DUI conviction is a misdemeanor, do not list it.

3. Be Honest About It

If the job application does ask you to disclose all charges, don't hide your DUI conviction. List the details. The same goes if you're asked about criminal history during your job interview. If the hiring manager mentions running a background check as the next step of the hiring process, you can preemptively mention your DUI to get ahead of it and demonstrate your honesty. Note that your criminal record has one blemish from an instance X number of years ago.

4. Reaffirm Your Skills and Strengths

Once your DUI conviction is out in the open, don't linger on the subject. Assure the hiring manager that you learned a valuable lesson from your mistake, and then move on with the rest of your interview. Emphasize the skills and qualifications you have that make you the perfect candidate for the position. Talk about past achievements that are relevant to the hiring organization to show the value you can bring and demonstrate your enthusiasm and passion for the position as you respond to questions.

An average of 1.5 million people in the United States face a DUI conviction every year, so you're not alone. While the charge can complicate the job search, it's not the end of your career. These four tips can help you get through it.

Photo courtesy of patrisyu at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Glen V thanks for your comment. Sorry you are going through this. Have you tried to get it expunged from your records? Or maybe sealed? Many of us made stupid mistakes in our younger years and, I agree, we have paid our debt and shouldn't be punished for a stupid mistake before we became grown! It's true that transportation jobs are pretty tough on background checks. I don't know what your charge was - guessing it was in the DUI area. So, sometimes it pays to be proactive instead of reactive. Bring it up first - maybe in your cover letter. One or two short sentences about a youthful indiscretion and how you have learned from it and moved on. Sometimes the company appreciates an honest candidate and it could be the thing to get your foot in the door. Try it and see if it works. In the meantime, see what you can do about having it removed from your record - or sealed so that companies are not able to see it. All the best.

  • Glen V.
    Glen V.

    With all of the background check sites,some are free which doesn't help & in my opinion should be done away with as many talented people who have made stupid mistakes for one reason or another are going to be immediately removed from consideration for even a position that you would not normally apply for,thank your background check sites who most likely have something that they would not want known.as far as expunged, forget it, I know numerous people who have spent thousands only to find that the charge(s) are still listed...on the background check sites,just cross off any position that has transportation involved as the insurance companies of the employers want clean driving records even if it happened in the 90's,remember it's not you it's the background check sites

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Mark H thanks for your comment. Have you tried any of these steps? Getting it expunged? Did you notice in Step 2 that there could be ways around it? You don't want to be dishonest by any means. But if you don't have to mention, don't. If you do have to list it, then make sure that you just indicate the facts. In the meantime, have you tried to go through some of the temp agencies? Tell them, upfront, about the DUI and how you have changed your life around since that happened - learned your lesson.

  • Mark H.
    Mark H.

    I have a dui cant find work on probation people think you are not employable made a mistake try to move past it very hard to move past it

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