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Drunk driving convictions and employment background checks

If you've been accused of drunk driving, you're in danger of having a bad mark on your criminal record. That mark could get in the way of employment opportunities -- particularly ones that involve driving.

Different kinds of criminal background checks expose different types of offenses. Depending on the nature of the check, your prospective employer might discover your drunk driving charge. Although your employer -- be it a federal agency or a Wisconsin business -- cannot discriminate against you based on a drunk driving conviction without a valid reason, this kind of discrimination can happen under the radar.

Background checks and getting hired for a job

Under federal case law, federal courts have ruled that prospective employees can seek protection from hiring discrimination based on a prior drunk driving conviction. More specifically, courts have ruled that employees can receive protection from hiring discrimination via Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

As such, employers that don't want to hire someone based on the person's criminal record must prove a compelling reason why such discrimination is necessary. For example, perhaps a prior drunk driving conviction interferes with the prospective employee's ability to operate a vehicle safely. A government agency may, in this case, have a good reason not to hire someone who is applying for a federal job that involves driving if that person has a prior drunk driving conviction.

In other cases, though, it is against federal law to discriminate against a potential employee based on his or her criminal record. It's also against Wisconsin law. Businesses and governments in the state of Wisconsin must also have a valid reason to discriminate against a prospective new hire based on his or her criminal history.

We'll never know how employers make their decisions

What the law says about hiring new employees is one thing. What employers do behind the scenes when someone applies for a job is an entirely different thing altogether. It's very difficult to know why one job applicant gets the job and another one doesn't. The fact of the matter is, a drunk driving conviction discovered on your criminal record by a prospective employer could get in the way of your getting hired -- and you might never find out.

The potential consequences of having an intoxicated driving conviction on your criminal record may provide you with inspiration to fight the charges in court with a well-planned and strategic criminal defense.

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