Felony DUI convictions in California come with serious, immediate penalties. You’ll face tens of thousands of dollars in legal costs, more than a year in a state prison, and you’ll lose your driver’s license for several years.
However, those are not the only repercussions you’ll experience if convicted of a felony DUI. You will have trouble accessing any number of opportunities that require a background check, including when you look for a new job.
While you still may be able to land a new job with a felony DUI conviction, you would be much better off with a misdemeanor conviction or no charge at all on your record. An experienced DUI lawyer may be able to have your charges downgraded to a misdemeanor or dismissed entirely. If you’d like to have a DUI lawyer in Los Angeles, call us today at (310) 896-2724.
When a DUI Becomes a Felony
Most DUIs in California are misdemeanors. There are three types of situations in which the charges will be upgraded to a felony:
- You have three or more prior DUI convictions in the past 10 years, including any plea bargains that resulted in a wet reckless conviction
- Under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you caused an accident that resulted in serious or fatal injuries to other parties
- You have a felony DUI conviction on your record already
California reserves felony DUI charges for individuals who have repeatedly committed DUI offenses or who have seriously impacted the lives of others.
Looking for a Job with a Felony DUI on Your Record
When you are in the process of looking for a new job, you should know that an employer can use your felony conviction against you. While many factors may confer a protected class status on individuals, your conviction history is not one of them.
However, the process by which you may be denied a job because of your criminal record has changed. Thanks to the 2018 Fair Chance Act, your criminal history cannot be probed the same way as it had been previously. Under this “Ban the box” law, most private employers may no longer:
- Ask about convictions on an application
- Add any information to the application suggesting a criminal record is disqualifying from employment
- Pose questions to you during an interview about your criminal history
The law requires that employers wait until they give you a conditional job offer to learn more about your criminal history. This inquiry may be in the form of asking you directly or by requiring the completion of a criminal background check.
When an employer discovers that you have a felony DUI, they are legally allowed to rescind the job offer but must follow certain protocols. This process involves:
- Notifying you with an individualized assessment as to why your criminal history is being used to rescind their offer
- Providing you with the chance to explain yourself and defend your actions.
- Send you a formal notice of their final decision
Some businesses will be more sensitive about your DUI history than others. Positions involving transportation, interactions with children, and those jobs related to law enforcement may be particularly unwilling to overlook a felony conviction.
Responding to a Job Offer Withdrawal
The Fair Chance Act provides you with the opportunity to respond to your potential employer’s notification of their intention to withdraw their conditional job offer. Rather than accepting the decision, you should take the chance to explain how you’ve changed since your arrest. Focus on the specific steps you’ve taken to be rehabilitated and remind them why they felt you were a good candidate in the first place.
Felony DUI Convictions Might Not Be Eligible for Expungement
For a misdemeanor DUI charge, you may be able to have the record of your conviction expunged or removed from most background checks. While it remains available to law enforcement and the judiciary, it will be marked as expunged. An expunged conviction, even if it does show up on a background check, may not be used as a reason to deny you a job.
However, if your criminal conviction results in time spent at a state prison, you are not eligible for an expungement. Though exceptions do exist, felony DUIs typically result in prison sentences.
You Can Beat a Felony DUI Charge
While the prosecution may appear to have an unbeatable case against you, no outcome is ever guaranteed. DUI defense lawyers can help individuals with felony DUI charges get downgraded sentences and can even have cases dismissed without a conviction.
The lead up to a felony trial can take a long time, but you should act quickly if you’ve been charged with a DUI. Your DUI lawyer will be better able to build a strong defense for you if you act quickly.
To speak with a knowledgeable DUI lawyer today, call (310) 896-2724 or complete the forms on the right with your preferred contact information.