“Can I be fired for a DUI?” This question is one of the most common ones people ask us when they’ve been charged with DUI or DWI in Texas. (And if you’re not sure what the difference between DUI and DWI in Texas is, check out our article.)
Your job is important to your livelihood, so it comes as no surprise when people who have been arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs are left wondering: Will a DUI ruin my career?
Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question, so let’s go ahead and break things down.
Can I be fired for a DUI in Texas? Covering the basics
In general, yes. However, in Texas, you can be fired for more things than other states. Texas is an “employment at-will” state, which means you can be fired for no particular reason. In other words, if you get a DUI or DWI, you can be fired, and your employer doesn’t have to explain why.
This policy goes for whether or not you’re even convicted of driving while under the influence and whether or not you’re legally obligated to inform your employer.
Besides employers simply not liking the fact that you were picked up for a DUI or DWI, you may hold a profession or may have signed an employee contract that actually prohibits you from getting a DUI. In this case, you most certainly can and will be fired for a DUI. (We’ll explore this more in a bit.)
But to be fired for something like this, your employer has to find out, right? This makes the follow-up question to “Can I be fired for a DUI?” the potentially scarier question: Should I tell my boss I got a DUI?
To learn more about DUIs and future employment, check out our article: How does a DUI affect getting a job?
When should I tell my boss I got a DUI?
There are some situations and occupations that would require you to inform your employer that you have been convicted of a DUI or DWI. In the following circumstances, you may be ethically and legally obligated to divulge this information:
1. Your conviction will interfere with your ability to go to work
If you are convicted of a DUI, your conviction can come with a variety of Texas DWI penalties. These penalties can include everything from community service to jail time, which can interfere with your ability to actually go into work.
In this case, you would not necessarily be required to inform your boss of your DUI, but you would need to let them know you might be absent. If jail time is mandated, this absence could be quite lengthy, and you could be fired for this reason alone.
If you request time off for community service, counseling, or court dates, you may want to consider being honest with your employer. If you lie and they find out later, they could fire you for being dishonest (even if they are okay keeping on an employee who has been convicted of a DUI). It’s important to weigh the pros and cons and get advice from a Houston DWI attorney.
2. You signed an employee contract that requires you to divulge this information
When you start a new job, it’s likely that you’ll sign an employee contract. Inside this employee contract, there could be a stipulation that requires you to inform your employer if you’ve been convicted of any crimes.
This condition doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be fired for the conviction, but it’s possible. That depends on your profession, your workplace, and your employer’s stance on your particular conviction.
You might be tempted to hold this information back from your employer, even despite the contract. If I don’t tell them, then how will my employer find out about my DUI? However, if you do keep this information from your employer and they find out, you will most likely be fired for failing to uphold your end of the employee contract.
If you’re honest and inform your employer, there is a possibility you could maintain employment.
3. Your profession is one that requires you to tell your employer
In this case, you probably already know that the answer to the question “Can I be fired for a DUI?” may be yes. Since a DUI and DWI are driving-related offenses, there are many vehicle-related professions that require you to inform your employer of your conviction. These professions include pilots, truck drivers, postal workers, and usually anyone who is given a company vehicle to use.
With this particular type of conviction, license suspension is usually wrapped up in the penalties, and suspension could last two years or more. Obviously, it could prove very difficult to carry out your job duties without a license, and your employer will need to know this information.
On top of vehicle-related occupations, there are additional jobs you can’t get or keep with a DUI in Texas. This list can expand to include people who have a professional license (like doctors, lawyers, childcare workers, etc). People who carry professional licenses are often required to disclose convictions to the state.
Can I be fired for a DUI conviction? Not if you’re not convicted.
If you’ve just been picked up for DUI and are beginning to ask yourself, “Can I be fired for a DUI?” then it’s almost always in your best interests to speak with a lawyer. At Thiessen Law Firm, we can help you better understand your options, as well as your legal obligations to your employer.
Home to Mark Thiessen, triple board-certified DWI specialist and board-certified Criminal Lawyer Mark Thiessen of Thiessen Law Firm has won over 100 Not Guilty verdicts and thousands of dismissals. He’s the man you want in your corner when you’re fighting a DUI charge.
When applicable, Mark may also be able to help you explore options related to expungement or pretrial diversion, leave your record sealed and/or wiped clean of a DUI stain.
Give us a call at 713-864-9000 or fill out our online form to request a free consultation today.
More Helpful Articles by Thiessen Law Firm:
- Intoxication Manslaughter in Houston
- Why “Do Not Blow” is Bad Advice
- How to Beat a Simple Assault Charge
- DWI Probation in Texas
- Finding the Best DWI Lawyer in Houston For You