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Impact of DUI on Job Search


I hope this isn't too far off topic...

A friend (no, really) who is the midst of a job hunt was recently arrested for DUI (that's Drunk Driving for you non-US folks).  Nobody was hurt (it was a one car accident).

The question is, how does this impact his ability to look for a job, and how should he raise (or not) this issue with potential employers?

He has already lost one offer because he was upfront with them about what happened.  The position would require a company car, and that was their reasoning for turning him down.

In the short (6-12 months) term, his ability to relocate is probably hindered by the need to appear in court periodically.  In the long term, if he is convicted of a felony, is his ability to get a professional position seriously compromised?

He is not a programmer - he's a Mech Eng by training, and has been working for the past few years in an IT Operations position (lots of travel and onsite time with clients)

Jason
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

You know what they say: dishonesty is the second-best policy.

Al K. Hall
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Either you're not being completely honest here, or your friend isn't. If nobody was hurt, and this was his first DUI, then AFAIK there isn't a state in the US where he would have the possibility of being convicted of a felony for that offense.

Really though, he shouldn't have been driving drunk anyway. And yes, if he gets convicted of felony drunk driving, considering it means either that he's a repeat offender or he seriously injured someone else, that will probably seriously impact his career prospects. Would you want to hire someone who puts you in danger when they drive?

Anon
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Anon -

Unless of course the guy in question happens to also be one of these folks:

A Pro Foot/Base/Basket-ball player
An Actor/Media personality
A Rock star
A politician
Really, really, stinking rich ( in which case he wouldn't care about getting hired anyway)

Some of us are just a "bit more equal" than others, so it seems. Certainly in the court of public opinion and for hiring, if not in the eyes of the law, and sometimes there as well.

But, I doubt he's any one of those, from the original description, so yep, I agree - I think the Mech Engr is pretty much screwed on the hiring front; certainly for quite a while.

Given that so many companies have gotten so damned invasive that they're daring to do their own background checks on people with private detective and record-search services (HUGE violation of privacy, as far as I'm concerned, but what can you do if you want the job?), a conviction would certainly appear in the report. And because smart IT folks along the way have helped "Big Brother"  put his record keeping systems online and connect them together, it'll probably turn up in the background check no matter if in a different state or not. Hell, the application he'd eventually have to fill out is almost certain to include specifying any past convictions, in which case the friend would be caught either way -- by putting it on the application, or by not putting it on the application and then having the inevitable background check turn it up.

It's probably a crap-shoot whether he ought to say something up front or not, but I'd say it's a virtual certainty the employer will find out one way or another. He may want to consider changing professions to one of those I mentioned above. In fact, the DUI conviction may actually HELP him "break into" one of the occupations I mentioned above.

anonQAguy
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Here's a real story, happened about 2 years ago with a friend of mine.
Once,  he got in trouble - police stopped him, he was DUI and in a friend's car, which, in addition, had expired registration. ...[Long sad story skipped]

...About a year later, he applied to one of the well-known Silicon Valley companies. The interview went great, he got an offer immediately. The HR department gave him usual questionnaires, and he... well, he didn't mention the DUI. Then, they told him that the company's policy is to investigate his background. Couple of days later, the manager called him and told that, unfortunately, they found his DUI record and, from HR perspective, it's absolutely impossible to hire him now.

Note: the main problem was not the fact of DUI, but the fact that he tried to hide it. Would they hire him, if he honestly told them about the DUI? Yes, they would -- the manager told him that.

Honesty is a good policy.

Igor K.
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Drunk drivers kill people including innocent children. Your friend needs to evaulate his problem before he even thinks about manipulating his way into gainful employment.

Also, any company hiring this guy would be liable for civil action on the grounds of negligence if this guy injured or killed anyone in the future. That is, the lawyers for the victims could argue the company failed to exercise diligence in hiring him.

echidna
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

echidna - excellent point.

Especially if, based on the original description, he had to drive "officially" for the company during business trips. Not a lawyer or insurance type, but sure seems to me that the company would be exposing itself there.

All in all, at least in the USA, getting a DUI conviction is now a life-changing experience (for most of us, anyway), and there is no way it's worth the damage it does to your life.

I like a beer or glass of wine just fine, and I really enjoy sake, but I've never had a drink of anything that was worth the slightest risk of getting a DUI. If there's **any** chance I'll be driving, I just drink something non-alcoholic.

Fortunately, along with the really hard crack-down on booze and DUIs in recent years (I'm 40+, so it's recent on my time scale), there's not nearly the social pressure at gatherings or meetings to have a drink "just to be social". It's a lot more accepted now to beg-off having an alcoholic drink without any of the mis-placed stigma there used to be about being a 'wimp'.

Going back to my earlier comment, the guy is pretty much screwed.

anonQAguy
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Your friend doesn't have much to worry about.  Despite what others have written, I don't think that most companies do background checks.  I suppose if you're applying for Chief of Cardiology at Harvard, they might check your credentials.  If you're just some random shmuck applying for a job, you could lie on your résumé, you could lie about your criminal background, you could lie about everything -- and the chances of getting caught are slim.

Pants on fire
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

I apologize for turning this thread away from practical questions and toward ethical questions, but a DUI represents a 5-minute lapse in judgement, almost always with benign intent.  The main societal purpose for punishment here is deterance - and it works.

I find it interesting that employers would care about a DUI, but not care that someone trashed their credit with years of poor financial judgement.  A good developer balances cost/benefit on a line-by-line basis.  I can see recent credit troubles (not due to medical bills or other unforseeables) as being an indicator that someone "doesn't get it".

Also interesting that auto-insurers can set rates based on age, sex, time at current residence, etc, all of which are generally illegal questions in a job screening.

Here's an ethical question:  If you could know private information about a prospective (or current!) employee (magazine subscriptions, marital history, what really happened at their last job, effectiveness at parenting, etc.) would you use it?  Would you seek out this information if easily available?  Isn't parenting similar to coaching a junior engineer?

Okay, I'm pushing buttons here.  Personally, I think character is relevant.  Maybe not so much for the 6-month, rented VBScript coder, but for the core people on your upcoming 2 year development effort?  You bet.  Do you exercise ethical discretion and not invade privacy when hiring?  I'm conflicted.

Thoughts?

Bill Carlson
Wednesday, October 16, 2002

Two years ago I worked with a programmer who was still on restricted driving because of a DUI. He was hired during that period and left a few months later to take a contract position.  It did not seem to affect his ability to get a job.  I don't know if he told HR about the situation or not but he was very open about the DUI and the divorce that triggered the DUI.  I think the best solution is to tell employers up front because if you don't and it comes out you are in trouble. 

John McQuilling
Thursday, October 17, 2002

Bill, you seem to excuse drunk driving on the grounds that it's a 5-minute lapse.

Five minutes is plenty of time to kill or maim innocent people. There is no excuse for drunken driving.

echidna
Thursday, October 17, 2002

A few thoughts..

First off, Bill, I don't care if it is a 5 second lapse in judgement. It is a lapse in judgement that puts anyone on the road at risk. How many children have to lose their parents because some idiot had a "5 minute lapse in judgement" before we can agree that it's a serious crime that requires serious punishment? Geeeesh.

If his job is going to require him to travel a lot by car, then yeah, I'd say he is going to have trouble. Someone posted that most companies don't do background checks. Huh? That isn't my experience, nor does it make any sense either. In today's litigious society, company's are almost forced to run a background check to reduce liability in case the new hire turns out to be Lester the Molester.

To be on topic...I'd say be honest and upfront. It will be much worse if he gets hired, then fired 6 weeks later because they found out about the DUI. Then he will have to explain to the next employer about the DUI *and* how he lied about it and got fired.

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, October 17, 2002

So it seems it's ok to be president of the Untied States with a DUI charge, but not some ordinary joe soap engineer. Strange country indeed!

ek
Thursday, October 17, 2002

George Bush would have a hard time getting a job as a taxi driver though. Not just the DUI either, they actually give you tests before letting you drive a taxi ; ).

Robin Debreuil
Thursday, October 17, 2002

....And GW doesn't have to drive anywhere.

Not to mention that GW didn't go on too many job interviews, either. If you're self-employed then you don't have to worry about it being a problem.

Mark Hoffman
Thursday, October 17, 2002

--------------------------------------------------------------------------
If you're self-employed then you don't have to worry about it being a problem.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------

unless you have *really* high standards.

nathan
Thursday, October 17, 2002

I have two DUI arrests -- one in California, one in New York State.  I've never admitted either one on any job applications, and as far as I know, none of my employers have ever found out about them.

I really don't think that background checks are standard practice (thank god).

Anonymous for this one
Thursday, October 17, 2002

My intent is not to excuse DUI - far from it.  The coorelation I was trying to make was with job performance, which is generally tied to your average workflow over time, not your best or worst 5 minutes.

DUI is often a statistical indicator.  How many people receive a DUI the very first time they drink and drive?  Not many; it's often indicative of a pattern of behavior.  In this aspect, I can see it being a hiring concern.

Which is a more detrimental indicator of job ability - a DUI causing an injury, or a lifetime of personal irresponsibility to family, friends, or creditors?  We're talking intent and malice from a moral standpoint, not a legal one.  We're fairly arbitrary as a society where we draw the line.  A doctor that misprescribes medication resulting in a death is a civil matter, whereas DUI is a criminal case, even if no injury results.

I'm not saying this is wrong, but it is something to think about.  And yes, I am for the strict punishment of DUI for deterance reasons.

Bill Carlson
Thursday, October 17, 2002

I'm self employed.
I have 3 DUI offences all commited when I was 18-21, yeah so I had a drinking problem. I also have a record for being caught 2 times in possetion of marijuana, also I've been booked for indecent behavior in a public place when 19 (sex in the car with the girlfriend on a new years night).

I finished university when I was 21.

I've been gainfully imployed (with no further convictions) for over 20 years now, and I never think to mention them to anybody, certainly not in a job interview.

Say nothing, why allow people to judge you?

Alberto
Friday, October 18, 2002

whoops 'employed' not 'imployed', ok maybe I do have a drinking problem.

Alberto
Friday, October 18, 2002

whoops. 'Possession' not 'possetion', so I'm still a drug addict.

Alberto
Friday, October 18, 2002

lol!

Robin Debreuil
Friday, October 18, 2002

Hi!

I am an alcoholic who is recovering for 10 years now.  I am not insensitive to the victims of DUI....I pray for all of them and their loved ones. 

I know DUI results in horrific tragic consequences.  However, when I had my DUI years ago, it was not that I didn't care about potential victims, it was just that I didn't even care about myself....I was destroing my health, my body, my mind and my spirit.  Having nearly lost my mind, I only focused on getting more alcohol and being isolated at the time, could not ask for a ride from someone else....that's why I drove.  I thank God no one got hurt and that I am sober today!

I am not excusing myself from my actions....I could have put someone in the hospital or the cemetary.  However, I do have a disease....alcoholism is a disease.  I resented being treated as a criminal....I am not Saddam Hussein, I am just a person with a serious disease and needed help, not punishment.  And as someone who has gotten help for alcoholism, anxiety, depression and neurological problems, I don't see why ten years later, I should have a problem getting a job. 

My suggestion to you is to round up proof and letters of testimony from medical professionals that you are getting help if you are alcoholic/addict, and character witnesses to state that you would not be a potential threat to the company you apply for a job from.  And BE HONEST about your arrest or arrests.  An employer would probably not refuse to hire you based on your past if you are honest and straight-forward.....however, if you lie and they find out, that would most certainly prevent them from offering you a job.

Gee, I like to write!  Sorry this is so long, but I hope it helps!

God bless, best wishes and sobriety one day at a time!!!!

Peace!!!!  Happy New Year!!!!

Anon
Thursday, January 01, 2004

I got a DUI at 23 while in between jobs. I have yet to get hired in the IT industry again at 26. I am certified and have the know how required by the jobs that I have applied for. The worst part is not knowing if its the DUI, the economy or what. Its enough to make me into an alcoholic.

Anon
Monday, January 26, 2004

I've been interviewing for jobs for over 2 years now.  I work in the IT field.  I have not been able to obtain a full time position anywhere.  I got a DUI over 3 years ago for driving my car 10 feet in a stadium parking lot with a BAC of .10. 

I had organized a group of over 50 of my friends from around the country for a summer weekend and this night, to see an event at the stadium.  I had rented a bus to take us from the stadium so no one had to drink and drive.  All of my friends were on the bus except one of my VERY drunk friends who did a doughnut in the parking lot of the stadium in my car.  I had to move my car so that it would not get towed and then get on the bus with all of my friends.  I yelled at one my friend for being an idiot, threw him out of the car, then drove my car for 10 feet before a cop pulled me over and asked me why I was doing doughnuts in the stadium parking lot.  The rest is history...my 50 friends watched me doing the "hokey pokey" for the cops, eventually being cuffed, and then pulled away in a police car to jail for the night.

A lot of the interviews I have, I feel that I am qualified or even over qualified for, the job and sometimes I never even get a call back or letter from the potential employer saying that I did not meet their qualifications or what the reason is.  I only assume it was because some officer gave me a hard time for something I did not even do and did not realize what my true intentions were (why would I have rented a bus for all of my friends if I was going to drink and drive).  I found out the next day, that my car would not have been towed if I didn't move it (i.e.-I never had to set foot in the car in the first place.)

For all of you who think that you won't get caught the one time you drink and drive, you never drink enough to warrant a DUI,  that all DUI's reflect a pattern in someone's personality that employers need to be aware of, or that everyone who has a DUI is an alcoholic...you're all wrong.

I cried that night in the cop car on my way to jail.  Now, I am crying because my unemployment has run out.

Anon
Friday, February 06, 2004

Anon, which state are you in? Your story really made me nervious. Couldn't find a job for 2 years...

Jan
Monday, February 16, 2004

I got a DUI in November of 2003.  I'm not by any means a "regular" drinker.  I drink maybe once every couple months...  Seriously.  I'm 22 years old.  So the one night I decided to go out with some friends to a local music show, I consumed 3 drinks total in about 3 hours (a beer and two mixed drinks).  I felt not the slightest bit "buzzed" when I left the bar and was planning on heading straight home to get to bed so I could get up for work in the morning.  I didn't get very far when I saw a cop come up behind me and flash his lights. 

Upon approching the cop said he detected a "strong scent of alcohol."  My friend had accidentally spilled a good amount of beer on my jeans because he got bumped by someone dancing.  He then asked if I wanted to know why I was pulled over.  He said another cop had called and told him that I was driving with my lights off.  As he took my license and insurance I checked my lights and they were indeed on.  Like a dummy, I turned them off at that point and when he returned I mentioned something about it.  He asked me to do a field sobriety test. 

I did the alphabet segment, had to count from a certain number up to another number and stop, had the light shined in my eyes, and had to stand on one leg and count very slowly to 30 while wearing 2-inch boots.  I generally don't have good balance anyway, so that didn't work out.

I then failed a breathalyzer test.  When I got it done at the PD I had a .10 or so.  To me, the legal limit is achingly low (.08).  I'm one of those people that gripes at others for drinking and driving, but I honestly thought I was playing it safe.  Now I won't drive if I've had even one drink.

Looking back on it all I could've done things a little differently and maybe swayed things in another direction, but I was terrified.  Surprisingly I haven't found any other jobs besides the one I'm at, and I don't know if it's because of my DUI or not.  Really it's hard to tell at this point if it's that or just the sorry economy, or even my field and the place I live. 

Who knows?  It's just been bizarre since the whole thing happened.  Just goes to show you can be a regular responsible person, but it turns out in the law's eyes you aren't responsible at all.  Every person who gets a DUI is labeled an alcoholic or a drunk or not in control.  I myself can tell you that's not true.  I used to think it, too.  But experiencing it will change your opinion really fast.

MyDUIwasacrock
Tuesday, April 06, 2004

I had my first, and last DUI 3 1/2 years ago in California.  It was the worst thing I ever did, and the experience was like dying.  I lost my job and I couldn't support my family as the costs such as insurance...etc. were amazing.  I eventually moved to a different Country where I found employment immediately.  I am trying to move back to California.  I had a job offer there, but after admitting my DUI conviction they said they could not hire me.  I was over-qualified.  The employer admitted I was "perfect" for the job, but because of the DUI they would not hire me.  I guess most companies have either a 5 year or 7 year restriction.  If you have had 5 or 7 years pass without another conviction you are eligable for employment.  I guess I'll keep trying, or just sell real estate for a living. I do not drink at all now, even though I did little drinking before.  So yes, DUI does not mean alchoholic!

Ross
Friday, May 07, 2004

I received my DUI in May of 02. Since then I have had two interviews and have been offered and taken both positions. I am upfront where this matter is concerned as I am unaware of there background check procedure.--I have a friend who does hiring for a nursing home (unrelated to my field) and she said that she would not hire if a person is dishonest where this and other topics are concerned.-- So for each application and subsequent interview I am open and honest, no matter how embarrassing, and it is just that. I figure this is my punishment for  my act. I can give you a sob story as to how I don't feel I should have received this violation, but the fact is if you take even one drink, and yes for some of us out there one drink may be enough you are potentially putting someone else's life at risk.

For the person above who said no state would convict for a first offense, you are wrong. I injured no one and no accident occurred. I live in Ohio, Mahoning County to be exact.

There was a woman at my DUI school from an insurance agency, she said to everyone there, "There is life after DUI", and she is right. It may not seem like it, and you will think about it often in your life, but there is life afterwards.

K T
Tuesday, August 31, 2004

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