When and What to Tell Your Employer About Your DUI Arrest

Posted by Richard Lawson | Nov 19, 2014 | 0 Comments

Do I have to tell my boss about my DUI Arrest?

Do I have to tell my employer about my DUI Arrest?

Often I am asked about whether or not a client should tell their employer about their arrest for DUI.  Consider the advice below:

If a person has been arrested and charged with a crime, it is not anyone's (even an employer's) business but their own.  UNLESS, there are particular work-related circumstances.

Anyone can be accused of a crime.  Just because you've been charged with a crime, doesn't mean you'll be convicted of that crime. A charge of DUI in Georgia is typically a misdemeanor, but depending on circumstances, sometimes a felony.  However, just being accused of a crime can make you look bad; even if you are found not guilty by a court of law.  Unless your job is included in one of the categories mentioned in this article, telling your employer about your DUI arrest is often not needed.

Of course, there are some exceptions. For example, if you have some sort of government clearance that has a contractual obligation to disclose to your employer that you have been arrested and charged with a crime.  In this circumstance, an employee should at least let their company know they have been charged.  Most of the time, the business will wait on punishment to see what the outcome in court will be.  It is possible in many cases to be found innocent or avoid a conviction.

There are particular situations where an employee is under a labor contract.  In those cases, the contract would dictate the circumstances where an employee must inform the employer about an arrest.

Some employers have an employee handbook or policy manual that clearly states that employees HAVE to tell their employer of an arrest (DUI or otherwise).  This is true for military personnel.

If you have a job that requires you to drive, you would more than likely have to report traffic arrests and charges.  This is because the employer could be civilly liable if you are in an accident while on the clock.  If it is shown in court that your employer knew or should have known about your DUI and let you drive anyway, your employer could be liable for any injuries that occurred to a third party.

If you are drive a company car, or if your employer has told you that you have to report a DUI or traffic citation, you should inform them of your arrest.  Some insurance companies require that an employee's driver's license suspension be reported.  If you do not, you could be punished or terminated for your DUI, as well as not following company rules.

To avoid telling your boss and driving a company car, you could look into driving your personal vehicle for work and get reimbursement for mileage.  Again, check your employee handbook to see if you are required to report arrests and if they only require the reporting of CONVICTIONS, not ARRESTS.

Commercial drivers (CDL), postal workers, air traffic controllers, etc.,  should also tell their employers for insurance purposes. No one from the court or the Department of Driver Services (DDS) will notify your employer of your arrest.  However, employers are often running checks on their employees against criminal records and DDS suspension records.  If you are required to report arrests, convictions, or suspensions, do so.

The above examples are specific and are more than likely made clear to employees when he or she is hired.  Most of us work typical jobs that fall outside these categories.  Most of us drive ourselves to work, stay there the entire day, and drive ourselves home.  We do not have specific rules we have to follow when it comes to reporting a DUI.  It would only embarrass us by telling our manager about an arrest and could give something to hold over our heads if they did not like us already.  Many people who are arrested tell their boss, manager, or supervisor about their DUI arrest anyway.  This could lead to being reassigned at work or even fired.  Keep in mind that an arrest does not mean you are guilty and definitely does not mean you will be convicted.  You may not have to disclose your arrest to your employer at this time.

Professionals such doctors, nurses, physical therapists, dentists, pharmacists, realtors, and other persons licensed by the State of Georgia must report arrests when they RENEW their professional license.  Our suggestion to fellow professionals is to seek counseling right away and report both the arrest and the treatment sought subsequent to the arrest.  This will satisfy the licensing board in most  DUI arrest situations.

Lawyers are a unique situation because the practice of law is regulated by the Supreme Court of Georgia.  As a result, our advice for an attorney who is arrested is to speak to an attorney specializing in attorney discipline as well as a qualified Atlanta DUI Lawyer.

Law students must reveal any arrest on their fitness application to take the bar exam.  Failure to disclose a DUI arrest will permanently prohibit the student from ever taking the bar exam.  In Georgia, a graduate of an accredited law school can be forced to wait one year after graduation from taking the bar exam once the DUI arrest is revealed.  One year is a far cry from a permanent ban.  Do not risk it.  There have also been several instances where an attorney has been disbarred when an arrest is discovered years later.

Sometimes it is good to be honest and tell your employer about a DUI arrest because that information could come out in other ways.  Your company could see your mug shot on one of the many Internet arrest mug shot websites, or nosy, gossipy coworkers could make your business their business and tell the boss about your arrest.  Honesty could be the best policy in that kind of situation.

All of this being said, you will also want to remember that Georgia is a “Right-to-Work,” or “Employment At-Will” state.  This means that an employee can be fired or dismissed by their employer for ANY reason and without warning.  “ANY reason” means just that.  ANY.

Ultimately, the decision is up to you, the employee to make.  It is incumbent upon you to check to see if your place of employment has rules, if any,  regarding the matter.  If there are none, it is probably best to keep it to yourself.  As a matter of conscience, do what you think is right.

If you decide to tell your employer, make sure also to tell them you have hired a qualified Atlanta DUI Attorney and have an expectation that the case will be resolved favorably. Ask your employer to reserve judgment until the judicial process is complete.  Remind them that you have been a great asset to the company and that this arrest wil have no bearing on your future performance.  Finally, remember to tell your boss that one DUI arrest does not define you as a person and ask to be judged on your work performance.

I wish your luck and hope you DUI arrest does not cost you a job or other opportunity.

About the Author

Richard Lawson

Managing Partner at Lawson & Berry:


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