An Arizona DUI Conviction’s Impact on Careers and Jobs

by Aaron Black • September 21, 2019

A DUI conviction in Phoenix, Arizona and throughout the state can derail a professional career and make it difficult or unlikely to find and hold a job.

First a little background. A DUI can be charged as a misdemeanor or a felony. A DUI becomes a felony if (1) it’s the third DUI within seven years (2) if the offender’s driver’s license was suspended, revoked, canceled or refused (3) if a child younger than 15 is in the vehicle (4) a DUI while under court order to have an ignition interlock device installed or (5) driving toward on-coming traffic.

Arizona has a “no tolerance” policy too, meaning that if someone is only “slightly impaired” behind the wheel the police can make an arrest, which may lead to a DUI conviction.

A DUI conviction is punished by possible jail time for a misdemeanor and prison for a felony along with fines and surcharges, probation, community service, alcohol and drug education, and license suspension for each. License suspension or revocation makes it difficult to get to and from a job and can be viewed by employers as a negative.

Financial assistance applications for students convicted of DUI can be denied, and jobs or careers can be impacted.

The type and severity of the DUI determines the charges levied so there are several possible outcomes and defenses.

Professional Licenses and Certifications

Professions that require a license, doctors, nurses, educators, accountants, financial advisors, and others, have rules to live by and a DUI conviction can result in suspension or revocation of the license harming or ending a career.

A number of professional licensing boards require a licensee to report an arrest. Lying means certain revocation.

The state, however, can’t refuse a business license to those who have a DUI conviction following them.

Commercial Driver’s License Holders

Commercial drivers who are convicted of a DUI, even those who are driving their personal vehicles, will have their license suspended for one year, or in severe or a repeated offense license revocation.

A DUI conviction results in the commercial license being revoked for up to five years and getting fired.

Military Service Members

For military service members who are arrested for DUI off-base, the military consequences depend upon the type of their military occupational skill, the branch of service, which is the Air Force in the Phoenix, AZ area with Luke AFB.

The military may levy its own punishments under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which can be sanctions, reduction in rank, and in some cases separation from the military and the end of a military career.

Employer Background Checks

Background checks are common place in today’s job market, and now these checks done by outside companies involve social media and many employers routinely visit the Facebook page of a job candidate among the some 20 categories of discovery.

Federal and Arizona law allow employers to conduct research into a prospective employee’s background, but both follow the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act limiting research to jobs that pay less than $75,000 a year. This allows a person’s arrest to be unreported after seven years. Convictions, though, stay on the report. However, under the Civil Rights Act of 1994 employers need a compelling business reason to not hire a person who has a DUI or other criminal record.

Fingerprint Clearance Card

Certain professionals, such as teachers, school bus drivers (as of 2018), commercial drivers and those working for companies that require their employees to have a clean criminal record, need a fingerprint clearance card issued by the Arizona Department of Public Safety. The card is proof that the holder doesn’t have any criminal convictions. The card may be restricted, suspended or revoked if the holder commits a DUI or other offense.

In addition to employment issues, people who are convicted of a criminal offense face the stigma of a criminal conviction. Convicted felons lose the right to vote and they can’t have or own a firearm.

Setting Aside a DUI Conviction

Arizona doesn’t have a method of erasing a criminal offense from the record, called expungement, but it does allow a “setting aside” of the offense if all of the terms of the DUI sentence are satisfied and re-offending didn’t occur. The DUI or other offense remains on the state’s criminal record until the offender is 99 years old.

If the person’s criminal record has errors, setting aside the conviction can eliminate the mistakes.

If the defendant was cleared of the DUI charge, it is imperative to ask the Superior Court to place a note on the criminal record stating that the charge was cleared meaning officially dismissed. This may serve to keep the offense off of employer background checks, too.

Setting aside has some benefits, such as reestablishing rights that were lost because of a felony conviction, like the right to own and possess firearms.

Free, Confidential Case Consultation

A DUI can end or damage a career or a job so you’ll need a skilled and experienced DUI defense attorney at your side to protect your rights during this difficult time.

Contact Phoenix DUI Defense Attorney, Aaron Black or call (480) 729-1683 at any time on any day to take advantage of my free, confidential telephonic consultation. I’ll quickly respond unless I’m in court. During our conversation I’ll hear your side of the event, answer and ask questions, explain the applicable law and the processes involved.

I aggressively handle my client’s cases with personalized service, working to win a dismissal or reduce the charge to a lesser offense by negotiating a plea agreement with the prosecution in return for pleading guilty to the reduced offense.

I defend DUI and other criminal cases in city, state, and federal courts in Arizona.