Does a DUI Show up on a Background Check? (DUI Will Fail You)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | July 22, 2022

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

NHTSA website screenhost showing overview of drunk driving statistics in the US.

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.

Texas Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Campaigns page with yellow arrow pointing to the menu link for driving under the influence. 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.

Related Reading: Will a pending charge show on a background check?

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.

Related Reading: Do police reports go on your record?

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.

US Dept of Transportation website screenshot with yellow arrow pointing to the 2022 DOT random drug testing rates, with screenshoting how often random drug tests must be conducted.

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
  • Mailman
  • Taxi services
  • Forklift operator
  • Pilot
  • Banker
  • Teacher
  • Healthcare worker
  • Military
  • Law Enforcement
  • Government

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 jobPossibly, depending on the position
Can I Get a Job at Apple With a DUI on my Record?ProbablyPossibly
Can I Get a Job as a Bus Driver With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job as a Business Owner With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job at Chick-Fil-A With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job in Childcare With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job as a Contractor With a DUI on my Record?YesYes
Can I Get a Job With the Department of Transportation With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job as a Doctor With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job With Doordash With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job as an Elected Official With a DUI on my Record?UnlikelyExtremely Unlikely
Can I Get a Job at FedEx With a DUI on my Record?Yes, but maybe not a driving jobPossibly, depending on the position
Can I Get a Job With the Fire Department With a DUI on my Record?UnlikelyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job at Goodwill With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job With Grubhub With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job at Home Depot With a DUI on my Record?Yes, but maybe not operating machineryProbably
Can I Get a Job at Kroger With a DUI on my Record?YesPossibly
Can I Get a Job in Law Enforcement With a DUI on my Record?*UnlikelyExtremely Unlikely
Can I Get a Job as a Lawyer With a DUI on my Record?UnlikelyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job at Lowes With a DUI on my Record?Yes, but maybe not operating machineryPossibly
Can I Get a Job With Lyft With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job With McDonald’s With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job In The Military With a DUI on my Record?UnlikelyExtremely Unlikely
Can I Get a Job as a Notary Agent With a DUI on my Record?ProbablyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job at Panera Bread With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job at Starbucks With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job at Target With a DUI on my Record?YesProbably
Can I Get a Job as a Teacher With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job With Uber With a DUI on my Record?PossiblyHighly Unlikely
Can I Get a Job at UPS With a DUI on my Record?Yes, but maybe not driving or operating machineryYes, depending on the job
Can I Get a Job at Walmart With a DUI on my Record?YesYes

* 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

EEOC screenshot of employer rules and regulations concerning discrimination and general counsel.
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.

US EEOC website screnehsot with large yellow arrow pointing to menu item about employees and job applicants.

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

US Department of Transportation record keeping website screneshot with arrow pointing to record keeping requirements for employers.

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?

Federal Motor Carriers Safety Adminsitration Website with yellow arrows pointing to a question about does a dui show up on a background check and the answer.

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?

Will a 10 Year Old DUI Show Up on a Background Check Report?

It is highly possible that a 10-year-old DUI will show up on a background check. Though a handful of states abide by the FCRA’s seven to ten year lookback rule, many others have no official standard, allowing background checks to look back even further. If the conviction is a felony-level DUI, it is almost certainly going to show up on a criminal database search, even after ten years. Government background searches are likely to reveal an individual’s entire criminal history, including DUI arrests that did not result in convictions.7,9

Will a DUI Show Up on a Background Check If It's Older Than 20 Years?

For individuals wondering “Does a DUI show up on a background check?”, the answer is “Yes” a DUI will almost always show up on a background check. DUIs can appear in multiple places on a background check including criminal history and MVR report, so even in states where a DUI is not considered a criminal offense, it can still appear on the driving record.3,13

Having a DUI expunged or sealed is the only way to remove it from the criminal history records (though it is still accessible with a high level government check).15

What Jobs Disqualify You If You Have a DUI?

A DUI will impact some job applications more than others, but generally, it can be expected that a DUI will make it significantly more difficult to secure a driving job, a job in healthcare or childcare, a law enforcement job, or any government position requiring security clearance.13,17

Will a DUI Fail a Background Check for a Job That Doesn't Involve Driving?

Whether a DUI fails a background check depends on many factors including the recency of the offense, the level of the offense (misdemeanor/felony), the number of offenses, the type of job being applied for, etc. A pattern of poor judgment on a criminal record (multiple DUIs, DUIs compounded by other criminal infractions) is more likely to fail a background check than a single misdemeanor DUI.

However, for jobs requiring responsible driving or positions of power or responsibility over others, a single misdemeanor DUI may be all it takes to fail a background check. The pass or fail of a background check depends in large part upon an individual employer’s discretion.1

Does a Misdemeanor DUI Affect Employment Opportunities?

A misdemeanor DUI does make it more difficult to be hired for various positions, particularly when competing against equally qualified individuals with no negative marks on their criminal records. Being honest at the outset is of utmost importance in securing trust.3

The EEOC20 encourages employers to consider a crime’s bearing on the job being applied for.6

Some companies also participate in The Fair Chance Business Pledge21 to create equal opportunities for individuals with criminal records.17

Note that a misdemeanor DUI can also affect current employment, particularly for individuals working in positions of trust (healthcare, childcare, banking, law enforcement).

Is DUI Considered a Crime in the US?

A DUI is considered a crime in almost every state, excluding New Jersey, where DUIs are considered traffic violations and Wisconsin, where first-offense DUIs are also considered traffic violations.2

In most states, DUIs will appear on state criminal records as misdemeanors. Repeat offenses may be upgraded to a felony charge and appear on federal criminal records.13,15

How Bad Is DUI on Job Application When No Driving is Involved?

A DUI is one of the most common criminal offenses to pop up on a background check, and therefore, employers often evaluate each case on an individual basis. While a DUI is detrimental to a job application, it is much more detrimental to lie about a criminal conviction and have it discovered on the background check.3,8

How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record in Canada?

In Canada, DUIs remain on driving records for up to eighty years, and an individual must apply for a pardon to have the DUI removed from the driving record.12

What Jobs Can You Get With a DWI on Your Record in Texas?

In Texas, individuals are charged with a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) rather than a DUI, but the offense and repercussions are the same. A DWI will remain on the criminal record indefinitely unless expunged.16 This can make it difficult for individuals to secure employment, but many companies (Coca-Cola, Under Armour, American Airlines) have undertaken the Fair Chance Business Pledge21 to help persons with a criminal record find meaningful employment.

There are many jobs open to an individual with a DWI/DUI on record, such as:

  • Carpentry
  • Marketing/Sales
  • Electrician
  • Welding
  • Retail
  • Business Ownership
  • Design
  • Freelance Writing, etc.17

How Long Will a DUI Remain on a Background Check? (How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Record?)

For how long does a DUI show up on a background check? A DUI remains on a person’s criminal record indefinitely unless they are able to have the conviction expunged or sealed. Many states abide by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)22 seven to ten year disclosure period for criminal history. Higher level background checks often look far beyond this period. DUIs typically stay on an MVR report for five to ten years.3

How Do I Explain DUI on Background Check?

Any individual with a DUI on their criminal record may feel anxious approaching a job interview. The best policy is to be honest about criminal convictions when asked on the application.8 Use any available space or time during the interview to discuss the issue with the employer. Explain the circumstances surrounding the DUI and how long ago the DUI was. Demonstrate self-growth and show the employer evidence of good driving history since that time as well as any rehabilitation efforts (AA or driving school).13

Providing strong character references is a valuable tool for persons with negative marks on a background check.

Does a Misdemeanor DUI Show Up on Background Check Report?

Most first-time DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors. A misdemeanor DUI is a crime, and therefore, it will show up on any background check which looks at criminal records, particularly if the offense occurred within the last ten years.3,8

Does an Out of State DUI Show Up on a Background Check Report?

Out-of-state DUIs will show up on most background checks and all background checks which use a fingerprint to analyze national criminal databases. Many states also transfer misdemeanor DUIs to other states’ DMV records so the violation will show up on an MVR report, as well.

What If My DUI Did Not Show Up on Background Check?

There are a few explanations for why a DUI may not show up on a background check. These include:14

  • The scope of the background check
  • Limitations on lookback periods
  • Reporting errors

A local, name-based background check is much less likely to generate a DUI report. Even an SSN-based background check will not access criminal records from other states and would only show local offenses.

Several states have limitations on “lookback periods” which restrict background checks from accessing information farther back than seven to ten years. Some companies may have even more lenient policies, allowing criminal offenses from more than five years back to go unnoticed.

Occasionally, reporting errors on the court end may prevent a DUI from showing up on a background check. If the DUI case was not tried, documented, or entered into the database correctly, it may not show on a background check.14

Does a DUI Show Up on a Background Check in California?

California abides by the recommendations of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA).23 This means that a DUI absolutely will show up on a California background check if the offense occurred within the last seven years. Single, misdemeanor DUI’s are taken very seriously in the state of California and may impact an individual’s life substantially.8

Will a DUI From 20 Years Ago Show Up on a Background Check Today?

Does a DUI show up on a background check even if it is 20 years old? Maybe, and here’s why. While the FCRA22 recommends a seven to ten year lookback restriction, only a handful of states abide by it, and there are no laws stating that there cannot be exceptions. Thus, some background checks may turn up a DUI from twenty years ago, particularly if the job being applied for is one of a sensitive nature or for the government.3

Furthermore, felony DUI charges are even more likely to show up on a background check and impact a job application outside of the lookback period.7,9


References

1Akin, J. (2020, April 30). DUIs & Background Checks: What it Means For Employment. GoodHire. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.goodhire.com/resources/articles/dui-on-a-background-check-and-employment/>

2Bloch, S. (2019, April 4). Criminal Status of State Drunken Driving Laws. National Conference of State Legislatures. Retrieved June 10, 2022, from <https://www.ncsl.org/research/transportation/criminal-status-of-state-drunk-driving-laws.aspx>

3Checkr Editorial. (2021, September 22). Misdemeanor DUI and Employment: The Details You Need to Know. Checkr. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://checkr.com/blog/misdemeanor-dui-and-employment>

4Delius, B. E. (2021, July 7). Will a Background Check Reveal a DUI/DWI? Delius McKenzie PLLC. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.deliusmckenzie.com/2021/07/will-a-background-check-reveal-a-dui-dwi/>

5Geman, N. M. (2022, January 30). About DUI and Background Check. Geman Criminal Defense. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.gemancriminaldefense.com/blog/dui-and-background-check-questions/>

6Klazema, M. (2020, June 22). Will a DUI Show on a Criminal Background Check? Backgroundchecks.com. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.backgroundchecks.com/blog/will-a-dui-show-on-a-criminal-background-check>

7Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry, Inc. (2018, April 12). Must I Report a 10-Year-Old DUI on a Job Application? Law Offices of Virginia L. Landry. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.duiqueen.com/dui-blog/2018/april/must-i-report-a-10-year-old-dui-on-a-job-applica/#:~:text=Even%20though%20a%20DUI%20automatically,background%20checks%20run%20on%20you.>

8LosAngelesDUIAttorney.com. (2022). Does a Misdemeanor DUI Show up on a Background Check? LosAngelesDUIAttorney.com. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.losangelesduiattorney.com/faq/does-a-misdemeanor-dui-show-up-on-a-background-check/>

9LosAngelesDUIAttorney.com. (2022). Is Three DUIs a Felony? LosAngelesDUIAttorney.com. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.losangelesduiattorney.com/wet-reckless/is-three-duis-a-felony/>

10Prindle, L. (2020, December 17). How Long Does a DUI or DWI Stay on Your Driving Record? QuoteWizard. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://quotewizard.com/auto-insurance/how-long-does-a-dui-stay-on-your-record>

11Quora. (n.d.). What Jobs Can You no Longer Get if You Have a DUI on Your Record? Quora. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.quora.com/What-jobs-can-you-no-longer-get-if-you-have-a-DUI-on-your-record>

12Regina Criminal Defence Lawyers. (2021, July 28). How Long Does a DUI Stay on Your Driving Record in Canada? Regina Criminal Defence Lawyers Impaired Driving Law. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://criminallawyerregina.ca/how-long-does-a-dui-stay-on-your-driving-record-in-canada/>

13Right Law Group. (2022). Will DUI Show up on a Background Check and Impact my Future? Right Law Group. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.rightlawgroup.com/will-dui-show-up-on-a-background-check-and-impact-my-future/>

14Safe Hiring Solutions. (2016, December 16). 4 Reasons the DUI Did Not Show on the Criminal Background Check. Safe Hiring Solutions. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.safehiringsolutions.com/blog/4-reasons-the-dui-did-not-show-on-the-criminal-background-check>

15Shouse, N. (2021, October 7). Will a DUI Show Up on a Background Check? Shouse California Law Group. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.shouselaw.com/ca/blog/dui/will-a-dui-show-up-on-a-background-check/>

16Trey Porter Law. (2022). Will DWI Show up on a Background Check in Texas? Trey Porter Law. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.dwilawyerstexas.com/faqs/will-a-dwi-affect-a-background-check/>

17White, T. J. (2022). What Kind of Jobs Can I Still Get With a DUI on my Record or Found in my Background Check? FightDUICharges. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.fightduicharges.com/blog/what-kind-of-jobs-can-i-still-get-with-a-dui-on-my-record-or-found-in-my-background-check/>

18The Wilson Law Firm. (2022). How Does a DUI Affect my Employment Opportunities? The Wilson Law Firm. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.tkevinwilsonlawyer.com/faqs/don-t-let-a-dui-conviction-limit-employment-opportunities.cfm>

19Worgul, M. (2016, October 7). Will a DUI Show up on a Background Check? Worgul, Sarna & Ness. Retrieved June 9, 2022, from <https://www.pittsburghcriminalattorney.com/will-dui-show-background-check/>

20About EEOC. (2022). U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from <https://www.eeoc.gov/>

21Statements & Releases. (2022). USA.gov. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from <https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2016/04/11/fact-sheet-white-house-launches-fair-chance-business-pledge>

22Fair Credit Reporting Act. (2022). Federal Trade Commission Protecting America’s Consumers. Retrieved June 13, 2022, from <https://www.ftc.gov/legal-library/browse/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act>

23Fair Credit Reporting Act 15 U.S.C § 1681. (2018). Fair Credit Reporting Act – Revised September 2018. Retrieved July 08, 2022, from <https://www.ftc.gov/system/files/documents/statutes/fair-credit-reporting-act/545a_fair-credit-reporting-act-0918.pdf>

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