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 requires 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 jobseeker 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 other 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 offence 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 Phoenix 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.