By Erin Gerstenzang

Applying for a new job or thinking about a transfer?

Many of our clients worry about what will happen to their new job if the DUI comes back on the background check.

Unfortunately, you will not always know what will show on your background check, but we have found that there are good ways to avoid a pending DUI arrest from preventing you from getting the job you want.

Let’s start with the basic premise that one DUI arrest should not prevent you from pursuing the career of your dreams.

Let’s say it again because chances are that you have convinced yourself that being arrested for a DUI is the end of your life and career as you know it.

Most careers will not be derailed by a DUI arrest.

This includes all types of professions including lawyers, doctors, judges, nurses, CEOs, accountants, academics, researchers and jobs requiring a security clearance.

So what some examples of jobs that are most likely to be directly impacted by a DUI arrest?

  • Police officers
  • Anyone who drives a company car
  • CDL Drivers
  • Elected Officials and/or people who work for elected officials
  • Pilots

So before you decide that your career is over, first determine whether your current or future job involves driving a company vehicle or requires a commercial driver’s license?

If the answer is no, then you are probably in good shape.

Won’t companies reject job applicants when they learn about a recent arrest?

If you are interviewing for a new job you may feel that an arrest will reflect poorly on you as an applicant.

This is a fair concern because there is a stigma associated with a DUI arrest and as a result, many people are loathe to disclose a recent arrest on a job application.

But keeping an arrest secret by omission or by making a false statement can create a much larger problem than simply disclosing.

Most companies will run your background check after asking you to disclose arrests, or criminal charges, or convictions, or all three.

Once the background check comes back, the employer compares the applicant’s answers with the background check result. If they discover an arrest that the applicant did not disclose, the application may be terminated.

What is heartbreaking about this scenario is that it is the failure to disclose, or the “lie” on the application, as opposed to the arrest itself that becomes the problem. In many of these cases, the applicant would have gotten the job had she properly answered the background check questionnaire.

How can you find out what will be on your background check?

It is easy to check your own criminal history at a local police department in Georgia. In most precincts, you can walk in, fill out a form and leave with a copy of your criminal history.

However, it is more difficult to get that kind of direct access to the Government’s information if you are an employer. Since employers can’t go to the government for that information, they tend to rely on private background check companies for those records.

What we have observed over the years is that these background check companies often get it wrong. They regularly both overreport and underreport offenses.

This means that you can never be certain about exactly what will show up on your report.

How does a DUI show on a background check?

If you have only been arrested, but are still waiting for a final court date, the only record should be of your arrest. This will normally include the county you were arrested in and what the charges were. It would be unusual for a background check to reveal any other specific details about why you were arrested beyond the charges.

Will a DUI arrest in Georgia show on my driving record?

Although your driving record won’t reflect an arrest, it may indicate a DUI suspension. You should be able to check your driving record at dds.ga.gov by downloading their app.

Otherwise, your driving record in Georgia will not reflect a DUI unless there is a plea of guilty or conviction at trial.

Can you remove a DUI from your background check?

It depends. Unless the information on the background check is verifiably false, it can be tricky to correct these records with a private company.

We often find errors with the government’s records as well and if the government has gotten it wrong, there are steps you can take to have them corrected.

What is the best way to talk about your DUI arrest to an employer?

At EHG Law Firm we are experts at helping our clients navigate these waters. We coach our clients on how to:

  • Plan for uncomfortable interview questions about a recent arrest with a potential employer
  • Fill out employee background check questionaries
  • Develop a plan to talk to current employers about the new arrest where disclosure is required

We make it a regular part of our practice to prepare clients so they feel confident about how to talk about a very private and uncomfortable moment in a way that dispels stigma and reassures employers that a DUI arrest should not a barrier to entry.