Can a Felony DUI Affect Employment Opportunities in California?


The state of California deals with felony DUI convictions very seriously. They reserve the charge for individuals who have repeatedly committed DUI offenses or who have seriously impacted the lives of others due to their actions. As a result, the felony DUI conviction comes with immediate, harsh penalties. Depending on the severity of the case, a person can face tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs, a prison sentence, and loss of driving privileges. 

It is important to keep in mind that the consequences of a felony DUI extend beyond the penalties sanctioned by the court. Because of the conviction, a person may have trouble with opportunities that require a background check, including new job ventures. Employers may use it as a reason to take back a job offer. However, I would like to state clearly that it is still possible to gain employment with a felony DUI conviction. It just makes the job search process more difficult, restrictive, and stressful for the applicant.

A good way to avoid these restrictions is to hire an experienced DUI lawyer who can get your charges decreased or dropped entirely. Depending on the details of your case, this may be possible to achieve. Then you would not have to worry about a DUI conviction affecting your job opportunities.

Job Searching with a Felony DUI on Your Record 

When job hunting, it is important to understand that an employer can legally use your conviction as cause not to hire you. Once they extend a job offer, they are allowed to inquire about your criminal history and request a background check. In the past, employers could ask about criminal history on job applications and during interviews. This would prevent applicants with a record from even being considered for a job. However, new legislation has helped to reduce this bias.

According to the 2018 Fair Chance Act, your criminal history cannot be probed in the same way it once was. Employers can no longer:

  • Ask about convictions on job applications,
  • Include information on the application suggesting a criminal record could disqualify you for consideration, or
  • Pose questions in your interview regarding your criminal history.

Employers are instead required by law to wait until they provide a conditional job offer before checking your criminal history. This could be done through direct questioning or requiring a criminal background check. If they decide to rescind the job offer due to the felony, they must follow specific protocols. This process involves notifying you that your criminal history is being used to rescind the job offer, providing you with a chance to explain your case, and sending a formal notice of their final decision.

Through this process, job applicants with a record can explain the steps they have taken to learn and rehabilitate. Applicants should be prepared to face questions from the employers after the background check is completed. This preparation can make the job search smoother and easier to navigate.

Other Considerations During the Job Search

While a felony DUI will not stand in the way of all career opportunities, some businesses will be more sensitive about your DUI history than others. Positions involving transportation, child interaction, and law enforcement may be particularly unwilling to overlook a felony conviction. Keep this in mind when sending out job applications.

Unfortunately, a felony DUI conviction might not be eligible for expungement. Though exceptions do exist, if your criminal conviction results in time spent in a state prison, you are not eligible for expungement.

Overall, a DUI on your record can in fact impede on your ability to gain employment. It does not completely remove you from the job hiring pool, but it does present restrictions. This makes it very important to understand how DUIs can affect the way you live your life besides court dates. The penalties can and often are long-term! We encourage you to refrain from operating a vehicle while under the influence.

If you find yourself fighting a DUI charge, our team of expert DUI lawyers will try their best to handle your case. Just know that we’ve got your back!

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