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Where were you arrested? A DUI is a state offense, but each jurisdiction handles them slightly differently.

DUI and employment background checks

Everyone makes a mistake at some point in their lives. For the purposes of this hypothetical scenario, let’s assume that the mistake you made happened shortly after you turned 21. While out to dinner with friends, you have a couple of drinks and because you do not feel intoxicated, you decide to go ahead and drive yourself home. On your way home, you are pulled over by the police and admit to having had some drinks before getting behind the wheel. A breathalyzer test shows that you are just barely over the legal BAC recognized in Arizona, which is 0.08% for standard drivers (or 0.04% for drivers of commercial vehicles). Due to Arizona’s zero tolerance policy in regards to driving under the influence of alcohol, you find yourself being arrested for a DUI. 

Obviously, nobody is thrilled to be getting a DUI - but you might feel that it’s best in a situation like this one to simply accept responsibility for your actions, even if you may feel that the punishment is a little too harsh for the crime. But deciding to plead guilty can result in very unfavorable consequences years later when a prospective employer runs a standard background check on you prior to making a hiring decision. Suddenly, you may find yourself passed over for a job based on your DUI arrest and/or conviction.

When can an employer run a background check in Arizona?

There are currently no restrictions in Arizona that prevent an employer from inquiring into the previous criminal history of a job applicant. On a state level, employers in Arizona do have some legal limitations on what they can ask an applicant during the hiring process, but they are permitted to ask about any prior criminal history. There are some states which have adopted a policy of what is sometimes referred to as “banning the box.” This basically means that an employer may not require an applicant to disclose any prior criminal convictions on the initial application form. Arizona has not yet passed this law, however.  

The type of job for which you are applying will determine to some extent the likelihood that a background check will be run, as well as the potentially negative effect that a DUI will have on your chances of being hired. For example, positions that involve commercial driving or transportation, childcare, medical work, or law enforcement are understandably strict when it comes to prior DUI arrests and convictions. 

How and why you should have your DUI record set aside

The process of having a DUI cleared from your record in Arizona is called “setting aside your conviction” and fortunately, depending up the circumstances, this may not be difficult. You will need to have met all of the terms associated with your DUI sentence, which typically include the following:

●      Payment of fines

●      Served jail time and/or completed probation period

●      Attendance of any court-mandated programs or classes

If you have met these terms without further complications and especially if you have kept your record clean in the meantime, you can file a motion to have your conviction set aside. A judge will review your motion and in many cases in which all terms have been met, grant that your conviction be set aside. It’s important to understand that while Arizona does not allow a true expungement of your arrest from your criminal record, having a DUI conviction set aside may keep it off of basic background checks for employment. At the very least, it will reflect more favorably on you in more thorough checks by showing that your DUI was officially dismissed. 

If you have any questions regarding the process of having a prior DUI conviction set aside, contact us today. The benefits to following through with this process are definitely worth the time and effort. 

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We support Scottsdale's Taste of the Town festival that benefits the local chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Association as well as the annual Toys for Tots campaign. Our firm also contributes to a number of other local organizations, including Home 'Fur' Good, a nonprofit dedicated to eliminating the euthanasia of adoptable homeless cats and dogs in Maricopa County.
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