Does a DUI show up on a background check? And, can it impact employment or cause you to fail a background screening?
Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is considered a very serious driving offense across the U.S. and in many other countries, making it a common query.
The quickest answer to this question is that a DUI usually shows up on a background check, but it won’t necessarily cause a background check to fail.
The key is understanding the type of background check being run, why it’s being run, and what jobs a DUI will disqualify you from getting.
Of course, anyone can find out immediately if a DUI will be part of what shows up on a background check by running one on themselves before an employer does. A one-time background check can usually be obtained without cost by using a 7-day free trial background check agency.
The following guide examines all the professions and employment background checks that will search and reveal a DUI, and how you can know if a DUI will cause a failed background check (and how to remove it from the record, if possible).
Will DUI Fail Background Check? (Will a DUI Fail a Background Check?)
“Does a DUI show up on a background check?” Yes, a DUI will almost always show up on employment and other background checks.19
The one exception is that a Level 1 background check name-based search may not pull up a DUI, particularly if it was not a local charge. However, if the level one check includes the social security number, the DUI may show up.
Does this mean that anyone with a DUI in their past will automatically fail a background check? Not necessarily.5
There are several factors that moderate the impact of a DUI on a background check, including:
- Type of DUI: Misdemeanor or Felony?
- Number of DUIs
- Recency of DUI
- Aggravating Factors
- Compounding Crimes
- Evidence of Rehabilitation
- Nature of Job Applied For
- Company Policy
- Discretion of Employer
How Does DUI Type Affect My Background Check?
Any DUI is a serious offense, but a felony DUI will have an even greater impact on the background check. Most first-time DUI offenses receive a misdemeanor conviction (unless the circumstances are particularly awful), and many states do not upgrade to a felony conviction until the third or fourth offense.
Therefore, a felony conviction often demonstrates a real pattern of reckless and thoughtless behavior which can have a detrimental impact on an individual’s ability to pass a background check.3
How Does the Number of DUIs and Recency of DUI Affect My Background Check?
The number of DUIs goes hand-in-hand with the type of DUI, and the key piece of information here is whether there appears to be a pattern of behavior rather than a one or two-time occurrence.
The recency of DUI is also a determining factor (how long ago the DUI occurred). An employer may look at a misdemeanor DUI from ten years ago much differently than a DUI conviction from six months ago. Convictions in the more distant past allow time for the offender to have undergone rehabilitation and demonstrate behavioral change and improved judgment.
Moreover, many states now offer expungement for certain felonies and misdemeanors like DUIs and other charges and anyone can learn how to remove an arrest record from the background check.
What Are Aggravating Factors in the Context of DUI?
There are aggravating factors that can increase the gravity of a DUI conviction. For example, if an individual was driving under the influence with a minor in the car, or if someone was injured or killed in a car accident while a driver was under the influence, even a misdemeanor DUI becomes much more serious.
How Can My Criminal Record Make a DUI Appear Worse?
Perhaps an individual receives a DUI, and it is their first DUI offense, but their criminal record also shows a history of drug use or errant behavior.
A single DUI offense now appears to be a reflection of the individual’s character rather than a mistake inconsistent with their nature.
How Can I Demonstrate Behavioral Change?
Suppose it has been twelve years since an individual’s DUI conviction. The individual is able to demonstrate personal change through employment history and character references.
Maybe the individual even has records of attending AA or other support groups. This presentation looks much different than that of an individual with multiple DUIs in a short period of time, no steady job, and no valuable character references.
What Job/Employer Variables Do I Need to Consider?
There are also employer-related variables to consider, such as the type of job being applied for, the company’s policy on hiring individuals with a criminal record, and the specific employer’s individual discretion in the matter. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)20 advises employers to evaluate each case on an individual basis.5, 18
What Jobs Does a DUI Disqualify You For?
There are some jobs that a DUI and especially a pattern of DUIs may automatically disqualify you for, namely positions where an individual must operate a motor vehicle (see DOT background check), positions where an individual has power over or responsibility for others, and positions where a security clearance is required. Some examples include:11, 16, 17
- Truck driver
- Bus driver
- Taxi services
- Forklift operator
- Healthcare worker
- Law Enforcement
Peruse the table below to find out how a DUI can impact a job with various companies.
|Can I Get a Job With a DUI on My Record?||Can I Get a Job With a Misdemeanor DUI on My Record?||Can I Get a Job With a Felony DUI on My Record?|
|Can I Get a Job at Amazon With a DUI on my Record?||Yes, but maybe not a driving job||Possibly, depending on the position|
|Can I Get a Job at Apple With a DUI on my Record?||Probably||Possibly|
|Can I Get a Job as a Bus Driver With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job as a Business Owner With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job at Chick-Fil-A With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job in Childcare With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job as a Contractor With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Yes|
|Can I Get a Job With the Department of Transportation With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job as a Doctor With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job With Doordash With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job as an Elected Official With a DUI on my Record?||Unlikely||Extremely Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job at FedEx With a DUI on my Record?||Yes, but maybe not a driving job||Possibly, depending on the position|
|Can I Get a Job With the Fire Department With a DUI on my Record?||Unlikely||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job at Goodwill With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job With Grubhub With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job at Home Depot With a DUI on my Record?||Yes, but maybe not operating machinery||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job at Kroger With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Possibly|
|Can I Get a Job in Law Enforcement With a DUI on my Record?*||Unlikely||Extremely Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job as a Lawyer With a DUI on my Record?||Unlikely||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job at Lowes With a DUI on my Record?||Yes, but maybe not operating machinery||Possibly|
|Can I Get a Job With Lyft With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job With McDonald’s With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job In The Military With a DUI on my Record?||Unlikely||Extremely Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job as a Notary Agent With a DUI on my Record?||Probably||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job at Panera Bread With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job at Starbucks With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job at Target With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Probably|
|Can I Get a Job as a Teacher With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job With Uber With a DUI on my Record?||Possibly||Highly Unlikely|
|Can I Get a Job at UPS With a DUI on my Record?||Yes, but maybe not driving or operating machinery||Yes, depending on the job|
|Can I Get a Job at Walmart With a DUI on my Record?||Yes||Yes|
* Many states have laws specifically forbidding law enforcement officers from serving with DUIs on their record, such as Nevada and Tennessee, particularly if the charge was a felony DUI. However, a misdemeanor DUI usually presents challenges, but not necessarily a complete background check fails for law enforcement.
How Long Does DUI Stay on Record Reports?
There are two areas of a background check where DUIs typically show up: the driving record (MVR report) and criminal record.4
An individual’s MVR report will typically show a DUI for a period of five to ten years, though this varies from state to state.10, 15
In contrast, a misdemeanor DUI will be removed from the record, based on state law and a felony DUI remains on an individual’s criminal record permanently unless the charge is successfully expunged.4, 10
How Bad Is DUI on Job Application (Is DUI Considered a Crime)?
A DUI is a criminal offense in almost every state (excluding New Jersey where DUIs are considered traffic violations and Wisconsin, where first offense DUIs are considered traffic violations), and it is one of the most serious driving offenses an individual can have.2 Thus, a DUI is almost always going to raise a red flag on a background check, but the weight it carries on a job application depends on many factors, including job type, recency of offense, level of offense (misdemeanor or felony), and a number of offenses, among many others.
A job application will be impacted more severely by felony DUIs, recent offenses, and repeated offenses. Ultimately, the decision to hire is entirely up to the employer, so a candidate’s best option is, to be honest upfront and establish trust with the employer.3
How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record (Will a DUI Show Up on a Background Check After 10 Years)?
There are a few domains to consider when answering this question:
DUIs typically pop up on both driving records and criminal records. In most states, DUIs fall off of an MVR report within five to ten years. A DUI remains on a criminal record for life unless the offense is expunged or sealed. Most regular background checks will only look back seven to ten years, so unless an individual is applying for a government job, a ten-year window is probably sufficient.
Additionally, the level of offense affects the duration as well. While misdemeanor DUIs are unlikely to show on a regular background check after ten years, a felony DUI will often be on a background check even beyond the ten-year limit.9
Different states have different restrictions on lookback periods, and if a DUI conviction is from another state, their lookback period must be taken into account as well as the current state of residence.19
Finally, the type of background check is a major consideration, as high-level government checks do not typically conform to the ten-year lookback restriction.
How To Explain DUI on Background Check?
When approaching the topic of a DUI, be honest at the outset. If an individual discloses a DUI conviction on the application, the employer is not caught off guard when it shows up on the background check. Establishing a sense of trust during the pre-employment process is crucial.
Use any available opportunity (written or verbal) to explain the circumstances surrounding the DUI conviction. Was it several years ago? Was it a moment of poor judgment in an otherwise clean criminal record? Is there evidence of rehabilitation and self-growth that can be provided?
Applicant’s with a DUI conviction on their record should be prepared to demonstrate how they have changed as a person and provide proof of rehabilitation (AA, driving school, therapy, etc.). Supplying strong character references is a huge help when applying for employment.6, 17
A DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses to show up on a background check, but it still can pack a heavy punch during the pre-employment process. When asking the question “Does a DUI show up on a background check?” and wondering if it can cause failure on a background check, remember that there are many, many factors that go into consideration and that a DUI is not an automatic disqualifier for most jobs.
Frequently Asked Questions About Does a DUI Show Up on a Background Check?