How a DUI Can Affect Your California Teaching Credential
Teachers in California must have teaching credentials to be employed as a teacher. However, both new and existing teachers may find it difficult to hold onto their credentials if they have a DUI conviction. Therefore, in addition to criminal penalties, teachers should be concerned with losing their jobs for drunk driving convictions. If you are a Southern California teacher facing DUI charges, contact our experienced DUI attorneys for a free consultation.
Can a DUI Conviction Prevent Someone from Being a Teacher in California?
Yes, a DUI conviction could potentially prevent a person from becoming a teacher in California. Even though a person may have their teaching credentials, new teachers are still subject to background checks. These background checks conducted by school districts and private schools include criminal records.
Therefore, teachers with DUI convictions on their criminal record could be denied a job. The school district or school board may decide that the DUI is indicative of poor decision-making skills. In the event of multiple DUIs, the school board might also assume that the person has a substance abuse problem.
DUI Reporting Requirements for the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing
The California Commission on Teacher Credentialing is responsible for issuing teaching credentials statewide. Each teacher must complete a professional fitness disclosure as part of the credentialing process for new teachers and the renewal process for current teachers. The document asks questions about the person’s personal and professional fitness. The form includes questions about the person’s criminal background. Specifically, it asks:
- Have you been convicted of a misdemeanor or felony crime?
- Are you the subject of any investigation or criminal injury?
- Do you have criminal charges pending against you?
Driving under the influence is a crime under California Vehicle Code §23152. The statute makes it unlawful for a person to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It also makes it unlawful to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (“BAC”) above the legal limit.
Therefore, convictions for DUIs are criminal convictions. Accordingly, you must disclose pending DUI cases and old DUIs on the form. In addition, you might be required to submit supporting documents to the Commission.
What Are the Consequences if I Don’t Disclose I Was Convicted for DUI?
The Commission on Teacher Credential (“CTC”) is very clear about the consequences of failing to disclose a criminal conviction. A failure to disclose this information is considered “falsification of your application.” It could result in a denial of your application. Additionally, it could also lead to criminal prosecution and other adverse actions by the CTC.
Do I Have to Report an Old DUI?
Yes, you must report all criminal convictions. There are no time restrictions on the application. Even if the DUI was in another state, you must report that you were convicted of DUI. The good news is that the older the DUI case, the less impact it will likely have on your teaching credential application.
Factors in Considering a DUI Conviction for Credential Applications
Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations §80302 provides the factors that the CTC uses when they evaluate a past criminal offense, including DUI convictions. Those factors are:
- The degree and likelihood that the person’s conduct adversely affected the educational community, students, and other teachers;
- The type of credential the person holds or sought in the application;
- Any notoriety or publicity for the conduct;
- The length of time between the conduct and the application;
- The likelihood that the teacher repeats the conduct;
- The extent that disciplinary action could inflect an adverse impact;
- Aggravating factors or mitigating circumstances present at the time of the conduct; and
- The blameworthiness or praiseworthiness of the motives that led to the conduct or behavior.
Along with the above factors, the CTC committee may consider the person’s cooperation in the criminal case and their compliance with sentences and probation terms. Evidence of rehabilitation efforts by the applicant and letters from parole officers, counselors, and other parties can also be submitted to the committee for consideration.
DUI Consequences for California Teachers
A first-time DUI conviction does not necessarily mean the end of a teaching career. The CTC has a broad range of disciplinary actions that it may take in response to a teacher convicted of DUI. Examples of disciplinary actions include:
- Ordering temporary suspension;
- Granting temporary leave;
- Issuing a written warning;
- Requiring the teacher to attend a substance abuse treatment program;
- Terminating the teacher’s employment; and
- Revoking the person’s teaching credentials.
The Commission also has the option of taking no disciplinary action. A warning may be given in public or private. If the CTC issues a written warning, it generally has a condition that another DUI conviction results in suspension, termination and/or revocation of teaching credentials.
The following sections cover commonly asked questions about teachers and DUIs in California.
DUI and a Teaching Credential – Felony Convictions and Rehabilitation
A felony DUI conviction does not necessarily prevent you from being a teacher in California. California Education Code §44830.1(g) states that having a serious felony conviction is not grounds to deny or terminate employment. However, the person must prove to the sentencing court with clear and convincing evidence that they have been rehabilitated for at least one year for the purposes of being employed in a school. Furthermore, a teacher cannot be denied employment or terminated for a conviction of a violent felony if they have obtained a certificate of rehabilitation and pardon.
What Happens After a DUI Arrest?
The police officer will give you a Notice of Suspension when they arrest you for DUI. As with all other drivers, you have just 10 days to request a California Department of Motor Vehicles (“DMV”) hearing. At the hearing, a DMV officer determines whether there are grounds to suspend your driving privileges for a BAC over the legal limit or for refusing to take a chemical test. The DMV administrative license suspension remains even if the prosecutor drops the DUI charges, or the court acquits you of the charges.
As soon as possible, talk with an experienced California DUI attorney. A DUI lawyer represents you at the DMV hearing to try to keep your driving privileges. The attorney also represents you in criminal court. Fighting the DUI charges is the best way to protect your teaching credentials.
What Happens if You Are Convicted of a DUI?
If you are convicted of DUI, you must worry about criminal penalties and the impact of the conviction on your teaching credentials. Potential DUI penalties the court may impose for a first-time drunk driving conviction include:
- Three to five years of informal probation (usually three years);
- Up to six months in county jail;
- A DUI school program for up to 9 months (usually three months);
- Fines and assessments that could total more than $1,500 ;
- License suspicion for six months;
- Installation of an ignition interlock device; and
- Other terms and conditions of probation, such as attending DUI programs, community service, and work release.
The CTC receives notification of your DUI. Therefore, it is best to self-report the conviction according to the reporting requirements. The CTC initiates an investigation to determine if your criminal conviction warrants disciplinary action.
The possible outcomes for a teacher include:
- Keep your teaching job with no disciplinary action;
- A public reprimand and warning letter;
- Termination of employment;
- Placed on suspension for a specific period; and
- The CTC may revoke or suspend the person’s teaching license.
The action by the CTC depends on numerous factors, including the school district’s policies regarding teachers and DUIs.
A Second DUI and a Teaching Credential
A second DUI within 10 years can count as a prior offense for criminal convictions. The penalties for a second DUI are more severe. The CTC can revoke your teaching credentials or deny your teaching application based on allegations of unfitness to teach. The Commission may also decide that you are addicted to the use of intoxicating drugs and/or alcohol. If so, it can revoke or deny your teaching credentials.
Will an Expungement Help?
Many individuals with a DUI conviction can petition for a DUI expungement under California Penal Code §1203.4. If the court approves your expungement, your guilty plea or guilty verdict is replaced by an entry of not guilty, and the court dismisses the case. It is as if your DUI conviction never occurred. However, the DUI arrest remains on your record.
A school district might view an expunged DUI as harshly as a current drunk driving offense. As far as the school district knows, you were charged with drinking and driving, but you were never convicted.
Regarding your criminal case, the expunged DUI can be used against you to enhance your DUI sentence. Therefore, if you are arrested again for driving under the influence within 10 years, it will be your second DUI offense, even though the first offense was expunged.
Do Not Plead Guilty to a DUI Charge Without Talking to a Criminal Defense Attorney
As a teacher, you need to focus on the long-term consequences of a DUI conviction.
You could lose your driving privileges for up to a year if you refused a chemical test. Without a vehicle, you might not be able to drive to work even though the DUI did not impact your job. In addition, you might miss work because of jail sentences, probation meetings, and other probation requirements.
Pleading guilty to DUI means you admit your guilt and accept the punishment ordered by the court. Prosecutors will not tell you if the terms of your plea bargain are fair. This is why you need a California DUI lawyer to assess your case and provide an honest assessment of the available DUI defenses.
A DUI attorney aggressively argues and negotiates for a fair settlement amount. If the parties refuse to cooperate and negotiate in good faith, we can proceed to court to defend you against DUI charges.
Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney
As mentioned above, an experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.
Interested in this topic or want to learn more about DUIs in California? Check out our recent article about whether or not a DUI charge could lead to termination of employment, and other related articles on our blog, which is updated regularly!
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