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Can You Lose Your Job for a DUI?

written by: ciel s cantoria•edited by: Linda Richter•updated: 5/18/2011

DUI offenses are considered as serious crimes for which the punishments & penalties imposed against offenders are getting harsher, particularly with independent state laws. To anyone who wonders if a person can lose a job for a DUI offense, the answer, of course, is yes, you can lose a job for DUI.

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    About Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of Alcohol

    800px-US Navy 070316-N-9475M-050 Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) watch the HBO documentary, SMASHED, Toxic Tales of Teens and Alcohol 

    The matter of furnishing an answer to the question “Can you lose your job for a DUI arrest?" could easily be supplied with a positive answer, based on America’s unique “at will" principle in employer-employee relationships. In fact, as long as your termination is not discriminatory nor does it violate the conditions of an existing employment contract, your employer can terminate your employment even without full reason.

    Punishments and penalties for Driving Under the Influence (DUI) of alcohol are getting harsher for the very reason that cases of vehicular accidents resulting in fatalities continue to mount. Based on statistical reports, an average of 32 alcohol-impaired drivers per day are responsible for vehicular road accidents. Hence, the seriousness by which this crime is being addressed entails more than just a citation or suspension of license.

    In line with this, the following are important points on DUI laws which every driver should know:

    DUI laws vary from state to state; however, US Congress has mandated that the legal Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 limit for adults be recognized as a uniform standard in all US states.

    Nonetheless, there are some US states that impose zero-tolerance level. This is something you should look into since this means you can be arrested for DUI even at .02 BAC levels. This is equivalent to 1 gram of alcohol for every 500-gram measure of your blood.

    In addition, if you are less than 21 years old, most states consider it illegal to have even as much as .01 of alcohol in your blood.

    Refusal to take the BAC test will automatically get your driver’s license revoked.

    Records of prior DUI offenses will enhance the degree of punishment that will be imposed.

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    Basic Penalties and Punishments that DUI Offenders Face:


    Below is a rundown of the basic penalties and punishments for DUI:

    • A minimum of $2,000 or more in fines will be paid depending on the laws of the state that has jurisdiction over the case.
    • License suspension or revocation
    • Attendance in a court-appointed alcohol education and treatment class
    • Rendering of community services
    • Impounding of motor vehicle
    • Jail sentencing in which the length will depend on the state laws and the severity of the crime committed and the number of prior DUI arrest records.
    • Installation of ignition interlocking device

    To find the exact law being implemented by each US state, readers can refer to this website: 1.800.DUI.Laws.

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    Incontestable Grounds for Termination of Employment Due to DUI

    800px-Dodge Ram hits Taco Bell 

    Take note of the aforementioned penalties and consider the following incontestable grounds by which you could lose your job:

    • If driving a company vehicle is your main responsibility, driving under the influence of alcohol will automatically disqualify you for the job.
    • Serving time in jail or even hours rendered in community service can affect your own time at work. Your employer has all the right to find a suitable replacement so as not to hamper the company’s business operations.Employers are allowed to terminate employees who cannot perform their jobs according to standards, which could include your inability to render full-time services.
    • The impounding of the vehicle you were driving could aggravate your relationship with your employer if the vehicle impounded belongs to the company. The fact that you were driving a vehicle which was entrusted to you will give your employer solid grounds to lose trust over your ability to safeguard the asset of your company.
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    U.S. Navy Master-at-Arms 1st Class Robert C. Tempesta places a ^ldquo,Don^rsquo,t Drink and Drive^rdquo, sign in front of a wrecked car outside the front gate of U.S. Naval Base Guam 

    • You could also lose a job for DUI arrests if the job position you are currently holding is considered as a publicity-sensitive occupation. A DUI arrest could adversely affect your employer’s reputation to customers or to the public as a whole. Examples of these job positions include company executives or government jobs with security clearances, nanny or childcare services, chauffer or school bus services, selected military services, and in some cases insurance or banking occupations.
    • If it turns out that you are not a first-time offender and your employer required that specific information for any arrest records be indicated in your application but which you withheld, you will lose your job. The law does not prohibit employers from asking about records of previous arrests or convictions; hence deliberate acts of omitting such information are tantamount to misrepresentation during the application process. This is particularly true if it was a vital basis for your employer’s decision to award you the job position you currently occupy.
    • If company policies or the employment contract specifically require that the employee should not be in any way involved with arrests leading to conviction for felonious crimes, then the DUI arrest that leads to a conviction automatically rescinds the employment contract.
    • If you are suffering from alcoholism, which is considered as a disability, and your employer came to know of this disability as a result of your DUI arrest, the employer can terminate you for reason of the DUI charges or convictions. What could be considered as discrimination against your disability is the termination of your employment upon learning of your alcoholism.
    • In addition to these concerns, employers can terminate an employee to ensure that they will not be held liable as a third party for any losses or damages caused by their employee as a result of another DUI case. There are cases of multiple-DUI offenses in which a company car was involved or wherein the alcohol consumption took place at the company's vicinity, in relation to a celebration of an event. As these events provide sufficient bases to hold your employer liable as a third-party, the latter's vulnerability to such incidents if your employment continues, could cause you to lose a job for DUI offenses.

    Nevertheless, readers are advised to seek competent legal counsel for any issues or concerns related to DUI charges since the content provided in this article is only for informational purposes and should not be construed as legal advice.

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    Reference Materials and Image Credit Section


    • DUI DUI Penalties --
    • DUI DUI Job Loss --
    • Rittgers & Rittgers Attorneys-at-Law Drunk Driving Accidents - An Overview --
    • The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission -EEOC NOTICE- Number 915.002- Date 10/10/95 --

    Image Credits:

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