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People's Law Guide


DUI Arrests Can Ruin Careers


For persons already employed and those seeking work, being arrested on drunk driving charges can lead to career havoc.

Pre-employment criminal background checks, once given primarily to traveling salespersons and truck drivers, are now being conducted on those applying for work which may not require much or any on-the-job driving. With increasing frequency, employers are looking to see if job seekers have DUI convictions. DUI arrests and convictions can also have consequences when seeking acceptance into college or the military or admission into professions having licensing requirements.

For job seekers and also for those who have held their positions for some time, DUI convictions can lead to serious hardships in the workplace. Florida has tough DUI laws. If pleading no contest or guilty to DUI charges, or when found guilty after a trial, DUI defendants receive permanent blemishes on criminal records, even when no jail time is imposed. Unlike findings of guilt administered in many other types of criminal offenses, DUI convictions can never be sealed. That's why it's wise to consult with a criminal defense attorney about legal strategies which may lead to the avoidance of a DUI conviction.

EMPLOYERS FEAR DUI CONVICTIONS Fearing expensive jury awards, insurance companies often advise business clients to verify that prospective and current employees have never been convicted of DUI. People with career goals are mistaken when not appreciating the seriousness of DUI arrests. When learning a job applicant has been convicted of DUI, an employer often excludes the candidate from further consideration. Some employers also fire longtime workers for recent DUI convictions. Arrests & Evidence Can Be Challenged Police officers can make mistakes. When believing that law enforcement officers have violated procedural rules, criminal defense attorneys prepare legal motions which can cause judges to "throw out" key portions of prosecutors' cases and even dismiss whole cases. When judges determine that police officers lacked legally sufficient reasons for pulling over vehicles, they dismiss entire cases. Other issues can arise. Improper administration of breath tests can lead to artificially inflated alcohol readings. Police departments and prosecutors often don't notify judges, attorneys and defendants when breath tests were conducted improperly or when DUI breath test machines are defective. That's why criminal defense attorneys should carefully review events occurring during the arrest and investigate the operational records of DUI breath test machines. When uncovering improper police conduct or the use of faulty DUI breath test equipment, attorneys should file legal pleadings asking judges to dismiss some or all portions of these criminal cases. Because police-administered DUI urine tests can reveal findings which may be legally irrelevant and unfairly prejudicial, criminal defense attorneys frequently are able to convince judges to prevent these test results from being admitted into evidence at trial.

A number of factors can lead a prosecutor to plea bargain and dismiss DUI offenses and substitute them with less serious charges, such as when a judge orders that certain evidence not be admissible at trial or when case complications arise. These complicating factors can include the unavailability of witnesses or a defense attorney's discovery that the client has a health condition which mimics the symptoms of alcohol intoxication or drug use.

When judges agree to the reduction of DUI charges and to "withhold adjudication" on the less serious charge of reckless driving, defendants are not convicted of criminal wrongdoing and may be eligible to seal their DUI arrest records. Also, when found not guilty after a trial or when their case has been dismissed for technical reasons, DUI defendants having no prior arrests can seek the expungement of their criminal records.

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