The public often demands that people in positions of power should face the same scrutiny and the same standards as every other citizen and that everyone should be subject to the same laws and punishments. Among California police officers, driving under the influence constitutes the most common offense. Of approximately 12,000 law enforcement officers or police officer applicants convicted of crimes in the past decade, more than half of these cases were for DUI.
But what about those applicants with DUI charges or convictions on their driving records? Is it possible for them to still get a job with a law enforcement agency if they have had a DUI in the past?
If you were recently convicted of a DUI in California, you should reach out to a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. Making a connection with a skilled lawyer can guide you through contesting your DUI charge on the way to getting your life back.
The Case of Police Officers Driving Under the Influence
In 2016, the U.S. Department of Justice released the results of a study conducted where the arrest records of more than 6,700 law enforcement officers were analyzed over a period of seven years. Over the course of the study, 960 officers were charged with driving under the influence.
That adds up to approximately 14% of the officers being arrested for DUI. But of course, who knows the real number because the blue wall of silence is not factored in? But past data has revealed that it is common for police officers to look out for other police officers and tend to protect each other’s records.
Regardless of the bond police officers share, the law should be adhered to, and California law dictates that it is a crime for any driver to operate a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The Case of the Applicant with a DUI Conviction
Currently, there is no California law prohibiting anyone with a DUI conviction from being a member of law enforcement. Even though a DUI arrest does not exclude someone from being a police officer, a criminal history can have adverse consequences on a person’s career by suspending or revoking licenses that are essential for a police officer to perform the duties of the job.
Generally speaking, one DUI conviction may not halt an applicant from becoming a cop, but that does not mean that a potential law enforcement agency will not review their arrest record and pass on the applicant.
There are no standard hiring policies for law enforcement agencies in California. As long as the hiring policies do not violate labor or anti-discrimination laws, individual departments and agencies can determine their own hiring procedures and guidelines.
The Case of Determining How DUIs Factor into Hiring
When determining how a DUI impacts getting hired as a police officer, multiple factors are considered. Some of these variables include:
- Is the DUI conviction a misdemeanor?
- Is this the applicant’s first DUI?
Repeat offenders or those charged with a felony DUI will have an uphill battle trying to secure a career in law enforcement.
Another question regarding the conviction concerns any aggravating factors that may be associated with the arrest. In a California DUI, aggravating factors are hard to overlook and can complicate the application process. A few examples of aggravating factors include:
- Causing injury or death to someone else while driving under the influence
- Drinking while underage and driving
- Driving under the influence with a minor under the age of 14 in the car
- Driving with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level (over .15%)
- Prior DUI convictions or multiple felony DUI convictions
- Refusing a chemical sobriety test
- Street racing or speeding at excessive speeds
Any of these factors complicate a DUI case and increase the chances of receiving a severe sentence if convicted.
The Case of Deciding Who Gets Hired
While law enforcement agencies create their own hiring parameters, there are basic eligibility requirements for hiring police officers. If you are planning a career in law enforcement, it would be helpful to examine the specific policies and procedures of individual departments when determining how your case fits into their eligibility requirements.
In the case of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), applicants are potentially disqualified if they fail to adhere to all traffic laws. The California Highway Patrol (CHP) requests applicants meet the minimum requirements for officers and go on to state that a felony conviction is a disqualifying factor.
If a DUI conviction does not automatically disqualify an applicant, several factors are usually considered when determining if the DUI is the deciding factor for employment.
After determining whether there were aggravating factors involved, a few other questions considering an applicant with a DUI may include:
- How long ago did the DUI conviction occur?
- Was the automobile properly insured before and after the DUI?
- Did the DUI result in any property damage?
- Was the applicant addicted to alcohol or drugs at the time of the arrest?
- Has there been any other DUI or reckless driving charges since the initial conviction?
Contact a DUI Lawyer in Los Angeles Today
Do not treat a misdemeanor DUI charge lightly or like it is not a serious crime. Anyone who has been arrested for driving under the influence and working in law enforcement or applying for a career as a police officer should reach out to a Southern California DUI attorney and work together to get the charges dismissed.
If you have recently been charged with DUI, do not try to represent yourself. Instead, reach out and schedule a consultation with a Los Angeles DUI lawyer.
A skilled attorney can help you fight these charges before they cause a negative effect on your career consequences. A Los Angeles DUI lawyer can evaluate your case, explaining your options in detail and crafting effective legal strategies to help you get past this tough time. For more information or to speak with an attorney, please contact us online or call us.