Effects of DUI Conviction on Employment in Arizona

Background Checks & Arizona DUI: What It Means For Employment

The consequences of getting charged with DUI can be long-lasting. Most people think about the immediate results – license suspension and paying fines. Driving under the influence, however, is a criminal offense in Arizona. As such, it can have an indirect effect on many other aspects of life. The effects of DUI conviction on employment is one aspect that cannot be ignored. One’s career development could suffer because of the DUI charge.

Arizona Employment and DUI

The first way in which DUI can affect certain professionals involves the so-called fingerprint clearance card.

A fingerprint clearance card is obtained from the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Teachers, for example, rank among the professionals who need such a card. In essence, the card clears the fingerprints of the respective individual and shows that they have no criminal record.

Anyone who commits DUI may have their fingerprint clearance card suspended or restricted. Such a change will have an immediate impact on the individual’s career.

When a restriction is placed on the card because of a DUI, an individual will be prevented from driving as a part of their job for a period of five years. Depending on the specifics of a job, a person can easily be laid off because of their inability to drive.

Other Professional Consequences

Individuals who need a fingerprint clearance card in order to work aren’t the only ones that will be affected by a DUI charge.

Many companies have a zero-tolerance policy for criminal offenders. Thus, individuals who get a DUI may be fired immediately. Such clauses are typically included in the employment contract and they call for termination after a DUI or another criminal conviction.

Even if a person does not get fired, driving under the influence convictions comes with a license suspension in Arizona. As a result, a professional could face some difficulties pertaining to going to work. The situation will become even more complicated in instances when a vehicle is impounded because of a DUI charge.

A DUI will also affect people who are looking for a new job.

A DUI will stay on one’s record for a period of five years. If an employer decides to run a background check, that information will become available. Regardless of the fact that employers don’t really justify the rejection of a candidate, the DUI will probably have an impact on the decision.

Finally, individuals who are looking to improve their career prospects through future qualifications may also experience problems because of a DUI conviction. Some vocational and trade schools offering such courses may refuse admission because of a DUI. Students who have a driving under the influence charge may also be denied a chance to pursue financial assistance.

What does This Mean for You?

A DUI charge isn’t necessarily going to have an impact on your job or your future career development. Still, you should be aware of the potential consequences and effects of a DUI conviction on employment.

The type of DUI and the severity of the offense will obviously be taken into consideration when current and future employers are taking a look at your criminal record. The position or professional opportunity you’re applying for will also matter. For example, an Arizona employer cannot discriminate against you on the basis of a DUI when you’re applying for a business license.

According to EEOC guidelines, an employer should give you a chance to explain the circumstances of a DUI before deciding whether or not to hire you. The time that has passed since the DUI and the rest of a person’s criminal record will also have to be taken into consideration.

A final thing to remember is that your DUI record can be set aside if you fulfill your probation and all other terms of the sentence. Your attorney will guide you through this process and help you find out whether it’s possible to get rid of the record.

DUI Employment Background Checks

A Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge can impact your life in more than one way. If you have been charged with a DUI you may be wondering how it affects your current employment or future employment prospects. An employer may conduct any number of background checks and may uncover a DUI charge, depending on the search.1 A DUI is a serious offense that is not only a driving infraction but also potentially a criminal record that may show up.2

Fortunately, Arizona is one of the jurisdictions that require employers to provide evidence of the job relevance of searching for a conviction.3 Thus, a prior conviction is not an absolute bar to future employment.

What do employers typically find in a background check?

Most employers run background checks on potential employees.4 Private employers can run third-party criminal background checks that may show your DUI arrest and other convictions.5 However, it is important to note that Arizona employers have limits to what they can do in background checks. For example, they do have to comply with the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FRCA), which only allows third parties to furnish consumer reports if they are for employment purposes.6 A DUI will probably show up on a background check, especially if it is an aggravated charge. Employers can get copies of your criminal history but cannot give this information out to anyone else.7

What does this mean for me?

A lot depends on what type of DUI conviction you have and whether or not it is still on your record. It also depends on what you are applying for. For example, in Arizona, if you apply for a business license then an employer cannot use your criminal offense to discriminate against you unless they can show a reasonable relationship to the occupation for which you seek a license.8

There are safeguards in place for you as a job seeker when it comes to criminal background checks. The FRCA protects you in case there is an error in your criminal background check.9 The FRCA also makes sure employers get your written consent before submitting a criminal background check.10 Next, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) does provide guidance to employers when it comes to the decision about whether or not to disqualify you based on your background – for example, the employer should give you an opportunity to explain the circumstances and should also weigh several factors such as the time that has passed since the DUI or another crime has been committed and the nature and gravity of the crime.11

Can I get my records expunged or set aside?

It is possible to have your DUI record sealed or expunged, depending on the level of crime committed. In Arizona, you should have finished your probation and all other conditions of your court-imposed sentence.12 Then it is possible to have your record set aside, depending on whether this is your first offense or not. If the court agrees to seal your DUI record, you may state on an employment application that you were not convicted of the crime because it will appear as a dismissal.13 Thus, even if the ruling were to come up in a background check, it would show that your DUI conviction was set aside.

If you are facing DUI charges or are curious about how they affect your specific employment situation, it is best to consult an experienced Arizona DUI attorney.


  1. DUI and Employment Background Checks, dui.findlaw.com, http://dui.findlaw.com/dui-cases/dui-and-employment-background-checks.html (last visited Sep. 22, 2014).
  2. James Hirby, Will a DUI Always Show on Your Background Check?, thelawdictionary.org, http://thelawdictionary.org/article/will-a-dui-always-show-on-your-background-check/ (last visited Sep. 22, 2014).
  3. DUI and Employment Background Checks, supra note 1.
  4. Lisa Guerin, Arizona Law on Employer Use of Arrest and Conviction Records, nolo.com, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/arizona-law-employer-use-arrest-conviction-records.html (last visited Sep. 22, 2014).
  5. James Hirby, supra note 2.
  6. Arizona Background Checks: What you need to know, blr.com, http://www.blr.com/HR-Employment/Staffing-Training-/Background-Checks-in-Arizona# (last visited Sep. 22, 2014).
  7. Id.
  8. Lisa Guerin, supra note 4.
  9. Id.
  10. Id.
  11. Id.
  12. Arrest Record Expungement in Arizona, theduimall.com, http://www.theduimall.com/dui-dwi-criminal-record-removal-az (last visited Sep. 22, 2014).
  13. Id.

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