Arrested for DUI, Will I lose My Job?

Website Provided by

Along with facing criminal penalties and fines, a person who is arrested for DUI may also face the possibility of losing his or her job. Whether this possibility becomes a reality depends on a number of specifics, including the type of job you have and the terms of that employment.

Employment Contract

If an employer includes a mandatory firing policy for such an arrest as part of the employment contract or the employee handbook. However, state law or the employment contract may specify that firing under these circumstances is only permitted upon a conviction, not just an arrest.

Transportation Services

If you work as a person who is responsible for transporting others, such as a cab driver, limo driver, bus driver or pilot, you may lose your job. Additionally, you might lose your job if you work as a truck driver or in another capacity that requires you to maintain a commercial driver’s license. Your employment contract may specify that any arrest involving your driving or any relevant traffic citation may result in automatic termination.

Alternatively, an administrative process may be in place to revoke a person’s commercial license, pilot’s license or other relevant type of license that is required to legally continue work. In some jurisdictions, a person may have the option of installing an ignition interlock device to continue maintaining his or her own license and for driving purposes so that his or her job is not interrupted.

This option is usually only available through the administrative process and not through the criminal process. Therefore, a person who is subsequently convicted of the criminal offense may find that the license is revoked.

Driving as a Function of the Job

If your job requires you to drive, you may lose your job if you cannot fulfill these requirements or if the company no longer trusts you in this capacity. For example, you may work as a delivery person or postage carrier. Alternatively, you may be required to maintain and drive a company vehicle as part of your job. Individuals who have a DUI on their driving record may be perceived as “too risky” for employers or insurance companies.

Therefore, a person may even lose his or her job if it is required that the employee drive and an insurance company refuses to insure the individual. Even if driving is only a partial function of the job, such as being a traveling businessperson who must rent a vehicle in another area after flying there, an employer may choose to discontinue the employment relationship for his or her own protection. Some states provide for an automatic suspension of a person’s driving privileges after a DUI arrest, so employment consequences may be immediate.

Careers that Require Professional Licenses

Many professionals are required to maintain a professional license in order to work, including lawyers, nurses, doctors and accountants. Some professional agencies may have standards in place that say that any arrest can result in the loss of the license. If the individual loses his or her professional license, he or she will also lose the connected job.

Positions Held to a Higher Standard

Individuals in other positions who may not even need to drive as part of their job may find that they lose their job because such an arrest reflects poorly on their character. For example, a teacher may be held to a higher ethical standard and part of his or her job may be to be a role model to younger students. An arrest may be justification to terminate the employee immediately or at least not to renew the person’s contract. Additionally, corporate officers, public figures and individuals in the public eye may lose their position if their employers, agencies or the media discover the arrest.

Effect on Work

Even if your employer does not fire you immediately for the DUI arrest, the underlying effects of a DUI arrest can impact your job. For example, you may plead “not guilty” and have to appear in court on several occasions. If you are convicted or accept a plea bargain, you may be required to serve community service. You may have a short jail sentence imposed. Some courts may order you to mandatory alcohol and drug treatment.

These ramifications may affect your work schedule, causing you to miss days or hours at work or causing you to come in late or leave early. If you were driving a company vehicle at the time of the arrest, having the car impounded can impact the employee/employer relationship.


Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

Find a Lawyer

Find a Local Lawyer