DWI and Background Check: How to Overcome It?

Whether you are seeking a new place to accommodate or a new job, you will submit a background check.

Usually, you get convicted and pay the price for your illegal mistakes, and then you move forward in life. But some mistakes follow you forever and cost you a lot, especially if they show up during a background check.

Well, a DWI case is one of those criminal convictions that do not stay only on your driving record but are highly likely to show during a background check for employment or lease application.

Is Driving While Intoxicated a Felony?

Generally, a DWI can be both a felony and a misdemeanor, depending on the damage caused. The resulting penalties of the two circumstances will also vary significantly.

In some states, having prior DWI convictions can lead to the declaration of subsequent convictions as a felony. In such situations, the DWI lawyers will work to get the charges reduced or dropped altogether. They are skilled and understand the complexities of court and legal matters. So, they will navigate the court system for you and keep you informed about the best and worst possible consequences.

Driving While Impaired vs. DUI Conviction

While the terms DWI (Driving While Impaired) and DUI (Driving Under the Influence) may seem interchangeable, some states maintain a distinction between the two.

  • DWI cases involve people who drive while impaired by alcohol specifically. In New York, the legal limit of the blood alcohol content (BAC) of a driver with a DWI must be at least 0.08%.
  • On the other hand, DUI is a broad term that incorporates cases where the driver is not only under the influence of alcohol, but any other mind-altering substance, including marijuana, heroin, or even some prescription drugs.

How Long Does a DWI Conviction Stay On My Record?

A DWI charge will never efface from your criminal record. However, it remains no longer enhanceable after a decade.

For instance, you get charged with a DWI case in 2023 and then another one in 2034. The latter will count as your first offense because it occurred more than ten years after your first conviction. Still, both charges will stay on your record for the rest of your life.

Moreover, such charges stay on your driving records as well. It matters much if your job requires a lot of driving and you get pulled over by the cops. Again, it can only enhance future traffic violations for the next decade.

DWI Impact on Career Opportunities

A recruiter can request your criminal and motor vehicle records during pre-employment screening. It is part of a comprehensive check the employers carry out to hire trustworthy employees. Hence, they sustain the right to deny you a job if they do not find your records satisfactory.

If the vacancy you applied for requires you to drive, they will uncover moving violations, driving infractions, parking tickets, and more. They can even hire a third party to run an extensive background check on you to scour arrest records, DWI cases, or any improper behavior behind the wheel.

However, if they involve a third party for investigation, they must have you sign a waiver for consent. Moreover, in case of refusal to hire based on negative information, they must inform you in writing of the specifics of this decision.

Some companies are lenient for DWI lawsuits, specifically if they occurred long ago, whereas some cannot compromise on such records. It depends on the company’s culture and other candidates applying for the same position as you.

What to do When Facing a DWI Charge?

Even though a DWI lawsuit is discoverable during a background check, you can do something about it with the help of a DWI lawyer. The good news is if you take a couple of steps and move the process along, you can keep misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor DWI convictions from damaging your reputation.

Getting a DWI Conviction Removed

Did you get arrested in a DWI case but escape conviction? Maybe, you were not guilty, you pleaded down to a lesser offense, or the prosecution dropped the charges. Whatever the reason might be, your arrest would still be discoverable.

Do not worry because you can get it expunged from your arrest report with the help of a DWI defense attorney. But remember that you will be eligible for expungement under specific conditions, like zero criminal convictions in previous years.

The process can be complicated, and terms and conditions might seem twisted to the average person. So, in addition to the costs of expungement, hire a lawyer for DWI who can explain things to you and help you.

Sealing a DWI Conviction from Showing up on a Background Check

An alternative way is to pursue a non-disclosure order or seal your DWI arrest from showing up during background checks. Again, it is necessary to bear in mind that a sealed record does not disappear from your arrest record. It is only no longer visible to recruiters or third-party agencies.

The big caveat with getting your records sealed is that they will still be accessible to certain government officials. So, your history will show up if you apply for a high-level government position, such as one requiring a security clearance.

We recommend you to talk to a licensed attorney for your DWI charges and have him explain the intricacy of the matter in detail.

Here is What NOT to Do

Many people may try to take a risk and lie on an application form, assuming that a background check would not reveal their DWI record. However, the likelihood of this happening is quite impossible.

Sometimes, there is a fair chance that a DWI conviction may not be relevant to your recruiter or landlord had you been honest. But if you lie on your forms and a background check results in an offense, the concerned party is much more likely to reject your application.

So, we do not encourage misquoting information on any document, whether for employment or otherwise. Talk to your attorney and look for a legal way to deal with these charges instead of taking such risks. 

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