An arrest or conviction for operating a vehicle while intoxicated (OVWI) can have many legal implications. It can mean jail time, fines and license suspension among others. But effects on your professional career can last much longer than the legal penalties.

An OVWI can affect you whether you currently have a job or are in the market for a new one. Here are some effects an OVWI can have on your professional career:

  • Transportation – A court can suspend your license for up to two years for your first OVWI offense. If relying on public transportation or friends and family makes you late, your employer may use this as a reason to fire you. This can prove even more difficult if you have a job that requires travel, like sales or consulting.
  • Absences – If a judge sentences you to serve jail time, an employer may look at those lost days as a reasonable excuse to fire you. You may also have to take time off to appear in court. A judge might also sentence you to take mandatory education classes, meaning more time off from work.
  • Respect – You may lose the respect of your employer, co-workers or clients if arrested or convicted with an OVWI. Even if you don’t disclose the information to them, they may find out through public record.
  • Loss of your current job – Many employers include company policies that prohibit an OVWI charge while employed. If your company has a policy like this, they can automatically fire you for getting an OVWI conviction.
  • Difficulty in finding a new job – You may not stay with your current employer forever. Most employers do a background check on applicants. Depending on their policies, they may not hire you if they find a record of impaired driving.

What can I do to protect my job?

The first step you should take if arrested for an OVWI is to call a lawyer. A lawyer may be able to have a court reduce or remove a charge.

A lawyer can also help you expunge the charge from your record. Expunging will seal your records, so employers will not see the information when checking your background.

Whether you are currently employed or searching for a new job, having an OVWI can have serious implications on the future of your career.