If you have been pulled over and read your Miranda rights before being taken to the station, you know how scary it is to be charged with driving under the influence (DUI) in South Carolina. But, did you know that a DUI conviction can have an impact on your current and future job prospects?
Is a DUI Considered a Traffic Violation?
Driving under the influence is more than a traffic violation. It is a criminal offense that is punishable by jail time and fines. Usually, a first offense is considered a misdemeanor and you will either receive a minimal fine or a jail sentence. But, subsequent offenses will result in both jail time and a fine. Second and third offenses are also considered misdemeanors, but fourth offenses and more are viewed as felonies, and the penalties increase with each offense.
In most instance in South Carolina, a DUI arrest will result in your driver’s license being suspended, even before your case goes before a judge. If you refuse to submit a breathalyzer test, or you blow 0.15% or more blood alcohol content, your license will be suspended. Even if your driving skills seem flawless while you are slightly intoxicated, you can still be charged with what is called an unlawful alcohol concentration (DUAC) which carries the same penalties as a DUI.
How Does a DUI Charge or Conviction Affect Your Career?
While many people know that getting a ticket for driving under the influence can increase insurance premiums, fines, jail times, and loss of license, they may not realize the effects it has on job prospects both now and into the future. A DUI is a criminal offense, and getting a citation for driving under the influence in this state can result in a permanent criminal record and lost job opportunities.
- License Suspension
If your license is taken away, it may lead to worse consequences than being unable to pop to the grocery store or coffee place. It can cost you your employment. If you cannot get to work, you face a loss of income. You may be unable to work your job, and if you hold the position of a truck driver, cab driver, or delivery driver, you could be fired.
- Background Checks
Besides affecting your current employment, you may struggle to secure future employment. There are many jobs that require you to pass a background check before you will be considered for the position. Some employers, such as medical professionals, law enforcement, and schools, do not accept people with marks on their criminal record. This can have a devastating effect on your livelihood if you have trained for a profession such as a teacher, lawyer, or doctor. Your future applications could be passed over completely.
- Time in Jail
If you are convicted of a DUI in South Carolina, and you are sent to jail, the missed work could result in your losing your job. Citations for driving under the influence may carry a jail term of anywhere from a couple of days or weeks to a number of months or even years. Many employers are not accepting when you tell them you need to take time off work for breaking the law and you will be going to jail. It lowers an employer’s trust and opinion of you and the time off work may mean they will fire you or, at least, pass you over for promotion.
The Effect of a DUI Conviction Specialized Career Paths
Besides college policies, there are certain government agencies that could influence whether or not a college will admit you if the degree you wish to study requires you to obtain particular kinds of licenses. If you have your heart set on going to college for a law or nursing license, for example, you may not be able to get a license from the state agency that deals with issuing these licenses if you have been convicted of driving under the influence or you have a number of misdemeanors relating to DUIs.
If the educational institution that you wish to attend is aware of the fact that you will not qualify for the required licenses, they could refuse to admit you to the program. If you have been arrested for a DUI in the past, check with the licensing agency to see if your arrest, or even conviction, could affect your application. It is a good idea to do this before pursuing a specialized career path.
If you already hold a license for your profession, the agency that maintains the license could require you to report a conviction or arrest. While some agencies may allow you to retain the license, they could still suspend or revoke it if you fail to report your arrest or conviction.
How Does a DUI Conviction Effect Future Employment Opportunities?
Being convicted of a DUI in South Carolina can have long-lasting consequences on your career. Many employers refuse to hire someone with such a conviction. Rather, they perceive a DUI as evidence that you are a safety risk to operating equipment or driving vehicles.
Usually, their concern is that if you do harm someone, the business may face a lawsuit for knowingly hiring someone who is considered a liability to others, and this would increase the amount of damages the company would have to pay out.
There are those employers who are strongly influenced by their insurance providers. Employees who have DUI charges or convictions on their record are viewed as a risk for hurting others, and as a result, insurance providers increase the employer’s premiums.
Do You Need a DUI Defense Attorney?
The effect of a DUI arrest and conviction on employment and future work opportunities means you should seek legal assistance from an experienced DUI defense lawyer in South Carolina who can guide you through the legalities of the charges and conviction. With legal representation from The Michael Jeffcoat Firm, your case will get the attention and resolution it deserves.
Mr. Jeffcoat, a native of the Columbia area, founded the law firm in 1999. Mr. Jeffcoat got his undergraduate degree at Wofford College in 1994, majoring in Political Economy and Philosophy, and then went to the University of South Carolina School of Law, where he received his J.D. in 1997. After working in two law firms following his graduation from law school, Jeffcoat ventured out on his own to launch The Jeffcoat Firm in March of 1999.