Getting a Job with a DUI
Teaching Jobs and DUI Laws: How Does a DUI Conviction Affect My Teaching Certification?
Can Teaching Jobs be Lost for a Drunk Driving [DUI] Conviction?
Like many other professionals, school teachers who are convicted of DUI, may face immediate termination, non-renewal of contracts or loss of teacher certification. Drunk driving is a commonly used term for any offense committed in a motor vehicle that involves a driver who is impaired by alcohol, drugs, inhalants or any other impairing substances --- even over-the-counter medications or plant material and herbal compounds. Most state DUI laws broadly prohibit ANY kind of impairment and broadly define “operating under the influence” or “driving under the influence” to include sitting in a parked vitsehicle with the engine running or keys in the ignition. Most states call this “actual physical control”. Teaching jobs can be lost after a DUI conviction for even a FIRST offense DUI [drunk driving] conviction. Therefore, an arrest for DUI-DWI is a red flag for any teaching professional, and requires quick action to obtain legal help from a well-qualified criminal defense attorney who specializes in DUI defense to help you.
Can My Teacher Certification be Lost after a DUI Conviction?
In some states, laws controlling teacher certification in that state may control all teachers certified within that state, whether teaching in public school or private school. Other state employment laws merely affect public school teachers and the impact of a DUI-DWI conviction. Although a drunk driving conviction may suspend or revoke the convicted person’s drivers license, the loss of the ability to drive for violations of DUI laws is not the gravamen of job termination. Instead, the typical school superintendent or board of education handling the disciplinary action focuses on the “poor decision-making” or upon the teacher’s actions outside school being a negative reflection on the integrity of the school district. This type of blanket prohibition by a state board of education, or a local (county) board of education is likely not going to entitle a teacher to file a wrongful termination claim, since the school district will typically be determined by a court to being prudent about the safety and impressionability of young students.
What is a DUI?
DUI is the most commonly used acronym in the USA for “driving under the influence”. The second most common acronym in America is “DWI”, for “driving while impaired”. A few states, such as Massachusetts and Rhode Island use another acronym, “OUI”, while others such as Wisconsin and Michigan use “OWI”. These abbreviations stand for “operating under the influence” and “operating while intoxicated”, respectively, under DUI laws enacted by that state. In many states, such as Georgia, a DUI conviction remains on your record for life, and cannot be removed [expunged]. Other states’ DUI laws allow the conviction to “age off”, but the length of time for the DUI conviction to drop off your record (which is set by state statute), can be the equivalent of a lifetime. For example, Florida’s rule is that it will remain on your driving history for 75 YEARS.
Is a DUI a FELONY?
In all states, a simple first offense DUI conviction will NOT result in a felony conviction. Unless that DUI charge also involves grievous bodily injury or death of another person. In that event, the DUI is the “predicate offense” or the underlying serious driving behavior that causes or contributes to the serious safety risk (impaired driving) that led to the death of another person or serious bodily injury to another person [which lawyers sometimes shorten to the acronym “SBI”. Different states may categorize deaths arising from a DUI accident as a FELONY and call it either “vehicular homicide”, “manslaughter”, “vehicular manslaughter” or even “murder” (e.g., California, Alabama). In a few states, e.g., Indiana, a second DUI conviction CAN be a felony, so contact a knowledgeable DUI attorney immediately if you are accused of a repeat DUI charge after having one prior conviction or adjudication for DUI against you. Also, when the typical DUI arrest occurs, the police will routinely search your entire vehicle as part of an “inventory search” prior to towing the vehicle from the roadway. If you have drugs or other “contraband” items in that vehicle [i.e., pipes or drug paraphernalia, child pornography, drugs, prescription drugs in the name of someone else, and unregistered gun], another charge (any of which may be a possible felony in your state) could be a second charge against you.
What if I am a Repeat DUI Offender?
Any prior DUI conviction or even a “deferred adjudication”, “conditional discharge”, “first offender”, or “no contest” [nolo contendere] plea to a drunk driving or drugged driving charge can be a disaster for a teacher who is convicted of a second or third DUI charge. A state that has regulations to allow a teacher who has been convicted of DUI to obtain reinstatement of teacher certification by undergoing a process of alcohol treatment or drug rehabilitation may permanently bar or prohibit a repeat offender from teaching within that state. This usually applied to all public school teaching jobs, but could also include private school teaching jobs. Plus, federal laws relating to a “second in lifetime” DUI conviction can dramatically affect a teacher’s ability to relocate or travel outside the state of conviction until the entire probation period is completed. So, if your teaching job is important to you, contacting a skilled and proven DUI lawyer for help is the prudent course of action. For all drivers age 21 and over, in all states, merely drinking and driving is NOT a criminal act, unless that person is proven to have been rendered less safe or less capable of driving that vehicle.
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