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

A question that comes up frequently in a DUI Arrest is whether or not a defendant should tell their employer about the fact that they have been arrested and charged for a DUI or DWI.

The fact that a person is accused or charged with a crime is their own business and not anybody else’s business unless there exists special job related circumstances. Remember, any person can be accused of committing a crime. Being charged with a crime is very different from being convicted of that crime. When a judge or jury has spoken and the accused is convicted of a crime that may rightly impact some types of employment. However, the fact that somebody has been charged with a crime, tends to place that person under a questionable and possibly irreversible light, even if they are subsequently found to be not guilty in court. Thus, unless you fall into a specific category of jobs, telling one’s boss or employer that they have been “charged” with an offense is generally not necessary.

Having said that, a few exceptions spring to mind. First, if you have a secret Government clearance and part of that clearance is a contractual obligation to tell your employer that you have been charged with a crime. In that circumstance it is incumbent upon an accused to at least advise their employer pursuant to their contract for clearance that they have been charged. Generally speaking employers under this circumstance will withhold punishment until the matter goes to court and has a final resolution. This is important because in many cases it is possible to be found either not guilty or to avoid the stigma of a “conviction”.

Other employers may have an employee handbook or other policy which clearly states that you must advise your employer of a DUI conviction and/or a DUI charge, generally speaking military personnel are a good example of this also folks that drive as part of their job. So for example, a travelling sales person, like medical sales; this job tends to be rather specific on the issue of reporting traffic/criminal charges. The reason is because they have civil liability if you get into an accident while on the job or otherwise driving their car or driving at their behest. If it is proven in court that the employer knew or should have known about an employee’s DUI record and the employer gave them a car anyway, the employer could suffer liability for subsequent injuries to a third party.

Thus, if you are a traveling sales person or if you are provided a company car, or if you have been advised by your employer at the time of hiring (or subsequently) that you must report DUIs, alcohol offenses or traffic matters, then you must do so or the employer could have a strong basis for termination or punishment, not just for the underlying DUI offense, but also for your failure to follow the employer’s rules.

Now, the examples above are rather specific and they are made clear to the employee. The majority of the working world does not fall into these categories. The majority of the world has a normal job, drives themselves to work, stays there all day and leaves. Most people in this circumstance do not have specific rules to follow when it comes to DUI charges and will only embarrass themselves by telling the boss they were charged and/or give the boss ammunition to use against you if they already don’t like you.

Thus, it remains incumbent upon you, the employee, to know if your employer has any specific rules regarding these matters and to follow those rules if any exist. If no such rules exist, then your business outside work remains just that.