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DUI Best Answer

by Anonymous
(Hamilton County, OH )

I have a strong work history in the non-profit arena, however nearly 4 years ago I got a DUI coming from a wine tasting fundraiser.

I am for the first time looking to change to a new position and am very concerned about this coming up in my background check. I am in a strict county in Ohio and I could not get the charged reduced, nor can it ever be expunged. It is not a felony, only a misdemeanor. But still, I already disclosed this on the application b/c lying is never the answer.

I did get the interview, but I was offered the interview before I filled out the HR paperwork disclosing this blemish. So that doesn't mean they won't still consider it once they see it and boot me out the door.

I have the interview tomorrow and I really don't know what to say. I was not a wild and crazy kid who made a stupid mistake, I was a normal person at an event like everyone else who had 3 glasses of wine and I chose to speed and got pulled over, didn't lie about where I was coming from, blew and Boom...DUI.

I guess I don't really have a good story to tell...I accept responsibility for my actions, but what should I say to ease the cautions they may have about me?

Mike Petras Comments:

Sorry to hear of your DUI situation. A friend of mine had a similar situation. His blood alcohol level was .8, which in Indiana you have to be below this. Had the police pulled him over 10 minutes later, he would have blown .79 and been just under the legal limit.

Anyway, the good news is it's been 4 years since your incident and this should be off your driving record. If not, I would think after 5 years it should be gone. The reason this is significant is because most companies will check your driving record as part of their background checks. Most states drop any violations after 3-4 years.

Most job applications ask if you've ever been convicted of a felony, not a misdemeanor. So you can honestly check that box, no, then not volunteer any other information.

Here is what I suggest. Go on line and find a reputable company that does background checks. This is a service you have to pay for, but it's pretty reasonable. Do a background check on yourself to see what companies will find out about you.

If your driving record comes up clean and the only blemish is your misdemeanor, I wouldn't volunteer any information to prospective employers unless their application asks if you've ever been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor.

Most companies will judge your character based on more than one piece of information. In other words, if your driving record is clean, your personal references give you rave reviews, and your misdemeanor is the only blemish on your record, you likely will get an offer if you did well in your interviews.

By the way, in Indiana they recently passed a law that hides your criminal record from the public after a certain number of years. I think it's 10 years. The reason this law was passed is because felons were branded for life despite having paid the price for their mistake and many companies had a "hire no felon" policy. So Indiana now says that after this time limit has passed you can lie on a job application and there is nothing companies can do to prove otherwise. I wonder if Ohio has a similar law; although in your case you only have a misdemeanor.

You sound like a very honest person and you may be uncomfortable about not revealing your misdemeanor to employers. You could reveal this during the interview process, but it's risky because they don't know and trust you yet. But here is how you could go about it.

Fill out their job application truthfully, but don't volunteer any information they don't ask for. In other words, if the app asks, "Were you ever convicted of a felony?" Check the NO box and don't mention your misdemeanor.

Go through your interviews and be as well prepared as possible. During the interview process you're building trust and likeability. If you sense at the end of your interviews that you clicked with everyone and you did well, ask to speak with the HR Manager at the end of your interviews. Explain to him/her that you are excited about their job opportunity, but you want to be up front with them about a minor blemish in your past. Then, tell them your story.

Make sure you explain this happened 4 years ago and you have a clean driving record. Also tell them you don't have a drinking problem and you are an honest, respectable person.

I think any professional HR manager would admire you for your honesty and integrity. Most people have a family member or close friend who has received a DUI. So this has happened to a lot of people.

The risk you take in being so up front is that as many as 25-30% of companies and organizations don't even do background checks. So by bringing it up you risk sabotaging your chances of getting a job.

Unfortunately, there is not an easy answer for your dilemma. That's why it's important to find out exactly what your background checks will actually reveal about you. Then make a judgement call as to how to handle it with prospective employers.

Hope this helps a little. Good luck with your job interviews.

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