Can a DWI (driving while intoxicated) conviction affect your career? The damage to your professional career and problems getting licensed are two unexpected consequences of DWI convictions.
Why Should A DWI Affect Your Career?
It might seem unfair, especially if an isolated incident led to the DWI charge, but a DWI conviction is seen as a possible indicator that you suffer from an undisclosed chemical dependency problem.
Many professions, especially those in the healthcare industry, want to make sure that practitioners aren't having medical or mental problems that prevent them from properly caring for their patients. Impaired judgement is a serious concern any time that people's lives and well-being are on the line, so doctors, nurses and EMTs can all suffer from licensing problems after a DWI. Police officers, pilots, pharmacists and firefighters are also subject to the same sort of rigorous scrutiny in their professional lives, for similar reasons.
Other professional licensing agencies, such as those that control the licenses of real estate agents or insurance brokers, consider a DWI conviction to be a sign of poor judgement, or poor personal character. Stock brokers and teachers also often face similar accusations in the wake of a DWI.
If you have your commercial driver's license (CDL), guidelines established by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) hold you to a higher standard than drivers without their CDL. You're being trusted to operate a much bigger, and more dangerous, vehicle than a regular auto, such as a semi-truck or school bus.
Your DWI conviction will result in the loss of your employment at least during any period of time in which your driver's license is suspended, and can potentially keep you from finding new employment after any suspension is lifted.
How To Fight A DWI Charge
If you're convicted of a DWI, you'll probably need a DWI lawyer to help you navigate the difficult process of trying to retain your professional license. It's far easier if you can avoid the conviction in the first place!
There are several different ways that your attorney can fight the DWI charge against you. These include:
- Was there probable cause for the traffic stop? For example, were you stopped because you were driving erratically, or was it just because the bars in your area were closing and you happened to be on the road? The police have to have a valid reason for stopping your car and conducting a DWI investigation.
- Was the breathalyzer test properly taken, or reliable? A breathalyzer is supposed to measure your blood alcohol content (BAC) but they're unreliable for numerous reasons. Even common medical conditions, like low blood sugar, can cause faulty readings.
- Were field sobriety tests properly administered? Even when done correctly, someone can fail a field sobriety test because of things like a general lack of coordination and nervousness.
Your attorney may find other problems with your arrest or the evidence against you in the course of your defense, depending on the circumstances of your case.
If you've been accused of a DWI, hire an attorney to fight the charges against you immediately. In addition, ask your attorney to help you navigate through the often complex requirements for reporting the charges against you to any professional organizations or licensing boards in your state. You do not want to delay reporting your arrest, because that can be seen as further "proof" of your character problems and cause you additional problems.