Misdemeanor DUI and Employment: The Details You Need to Know

September 22, 2021
Checkr Editor

Editor’s note: Nothing in Checkr’s Blog should be construed as legal advice, guidance, or counsel. Companies should consult their own legal counsel about their compliance responsibilities under the FCRA and applicable state and local laws. Checkr expressly disclaims any warranties or responsibility or damages associated with or arising out of information provided.

One of the most common misdemeanors to show up on background checks is a DUI. However, a misdemeanor DUI and employment can be compatible. It’s important for candidates to be honest because while a DUI won’t automatically disqualify you, lying about a conviction can.

Understanding the role a DUI plays in employment when it surfaces as part of a background check is important for both employers and employees. This guide examines whether a DUI shows up on a background check and what it could mean for a candidate’s employment prospects.

Does a DUI show up on a background check?

Will a DUI show up on a criminal background check? DUIs often appear on criminal record screenings, but not always. In certain cases, depending on the state, driving under the influence may be considered a traffic violation and will only be surfaced on an MVR report. In addition, a DUI will appear on most pre-employment checks. In particular, if more in-depth inspections are carried out, such as running a candidate’s driving license through a check, a DUI will appear.

If a candidate was not convicted of a DUI, some background checks might still disclose criminal cases that were dismissed. However, many states automatically prohibit the disclosure of these records if more than seven years have passed. Remember, certain background checks may show a DUI arrest if the case is still pending.

Types of DUIs

What is the difference between a misdemeanor DUI and a felony DUI? States have different rules on when to upgrade a misdemeanor to a felony. For example, in California, you’ll automatically be charged with a felony DUI if you already have three misdemeanors.

Most DUI offenses are charged as misdemeanors in all but the most serious of cases. DUIs on background checks will reveal both felony and misdemeanor DUIs as both are considered a crime.

So you have a DUI on your record…what now?

Companies can use their discretion when it comes to a misdemeanor DUI and employment eligibility. They may choose to overlook misdemeanors, especially older ones. When applying for a job, you should disclose a conviction if asked. Lying on a job application could result in dismissal once a background check is conducted. Ultimately the answer to “can you pass a background check with a DUI?” is up to the discretion of the employer. 

Different employers will approach a DUI and employment eligibility differently. Some won’t even mention it, whereas others consider it a red flag. It largely depends on the company, the industry, and workplace culture. However, if you’re not asked about a criminal record, there’s no need to disclose it in advance.

Can I keep a DUI off my record?

It is possible to have a DUI conviction expunged from your record after all penalties and probation have been served. However, it’s important to note a DUI conviction can stay on your driving record for 5-10 years, depending on your state. After a DUI has been expunged, you’re no longer required to disclose a conviction to employers, even when asked.

Hiring someone with a DUI on their background check

Employers are legally permitted to refuse to hire someone because they have a DUI on their permanent record. The question is, should you hire someone with a DUI?

Certain positions may be legally off-limits to applicants with DUIs. For example, a DUI on a background check for a prospective professional driver would likely result in an automatic disqualification. But for other types of positions, here are the main aspects an employer should consider:

  • Duties – Will the candidate be required to work with vulnerable groups or drive a vehicle?
  • Severity – Is the DUI a misdemeanor or a felony?
  • Age – How old is the offense? There’s a big difference between a DUI last month and a DUI nine years ago.
  • Rehabilitation – Did the candidate participate in any remediation or rehabilitation programs?

In most cases, the decision is down to the employer. What’s important is giving that candidate the chance to speak to their DUI. If they demonstrate that they’ve taken steps to move forward from a DUI, employers should take this into consideration.

DUI and employment background checks: FAQs

Whether you have a misdemeanor DUI or you’re considering hiring someone with one, it can cause concern. Let’s answer some of the most common questions about a misdemeanor DUI and employment.

Will a DUI show up on a background check if not convicted?

As part of most criminal background checks, no, because you were not convicted of any crime. However, level 2 and FBI background checks may reveal that a case, arrest, and non-conviction occurred.

How long does a DUI stay on your background check?

A DUI can remain on your record forever, but some states prohibit disclosure for misdemeanors after a certain time period or allow for the record to be expunged. However, high-level background checks, such as FBI and level 2 checks, may still report on sealed or expunged records.

Can I hire a driver with a DUI?

If a driver requires a commercial driving license, it is recommended employers consult with the Department of Transportation’s Drug & Alcohol Clearinghouse. This database provides access to all commercial driver records. Applicants must consent to this check if it’s required by the employer, or they cannot be hired.

How do I negotiate “Ban the Box” laws?

Certain states and municipalities operate under “Ban the Box” laws, prohibiting employers from asking about past convictions on their application forms. Only after the initial interview and the tending of a conditional offer can employers ask about previous convictions. Some local laws even prohibit employers from considering misdemeanor offenses as part of the hiring process if the candidate completed remediation and rehab.


Misdemeanor DUIs and employment options can be challenging to navigate for both employers and employees. While DUI and employment background checks are a crucial part of the hiring process, they’re generally not a barrier to employment.

If you would like to learn more about this process, you can review Checkr’s Driver and Motor Vehicle screening.

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