In 2016, the state of Illinois arrested nearly 30,000 drivers for a DUI or Driving Under the Influence. Although this crime most often pertains to alcohol, individuals can face arrest for driving with cannabis or other drugs in their system as well.
In the state of Illinois, being arrested for DUI can lead to the loss of your driver's license. 92% of those arrested lost their driver's license for at least one year. If this occurs, you may still have the ability to drive to and from work but will not be able to drive for any other purpose.
Those who have received DUIs may wonder, "Can you get fired for a DUI?" In many cases, companies are well within their legal right to let you go for driving under the influence, let’s examine this further.
Illinois is an At-Will Employment State
An at-will employment state means that any employer has the right to terminate an employee for any reason, providing that it isn't illegal or in retaliation for something.
An employer may decide that they can fire you "at-will" because of your DUI charge. This is perfectly legal, and the law will always be on your employer's side.
If there is simply hearsay that you drove under the influence, there could be a grey area. However, if you have been arrested for a DUI, your employer can fire you.
You Can Be Fired for Spending Time in Court, Jail or Treatment
After a DUI, you may face jail time or spend time fighting the issue in court. If this is the case, your employer can fire you for spending too much time away from the job. They are not obligated to hold your position because you are away fighting a legal battle.
In fact, the more days you miss due to your legal issues, the more likely it will be that you are eventually fired due to your DUI.
If you are ordered to attend drug or alcohol counseling, especially as a result of a DUI, you may also face termination. Some employers may be more lenient than others when it comes to firing employees for attending rehab, but it is within their legal right to do so.
Can you Lose your Job for a DUI if you Drive for a Living?
If a major part of your job includes driving, such as delivering food, packages or working as a long-haul trucker, your employer can fire you for having a DUI. This is because of your conviction, and often a suspension of your license will impair your ability to perform your job or be insured under the company’s insurance .
A DUI directly relates to your ability to perform your job as a driver. A suspended or revoked license also impairs your ability to perform, and thus, your employer can, and most likely will fire you. Legally, they could face ramifications for allowing you to drive on a suspended or revoked license.
If you end up with a conviction, the loss of your job is not a question of if, but when you will lose your job.
You may have to switch fields, as a DUI conviction can exclude you from ever being insured to drive for certain companies again. Others will simply have a policy against employing anyone who has had a DUI conviction on their record.
What if Driving is Not My Job, but Part of it?
If you don't drive for a living, but have to drive to meet clients for lunch, you can still face termination if you receive a DUI.
Your company will not face legal consequences necessarily for continuing to employ you if you use public transportation, arrange alternate transport, or take taxis to meet with clients.
However, they are within their legal right to say that driving is an integral part of your job. This means that they can say having a DUI impairs your ability to continue to work with them, especially if you have a suspended or revoked license.
In this regard, they can terminate their contract with you, citing your receiving a DUI as the main reason you are no longer employed.
What if My Job Doesn't Involve Driving?
Even if your job does not involve driving, you can still be fired for having a DUI. While not all employers will follow through with this, there are some more likely than others to do so.
People who work with children or the public are more likely to face termination after a DUI than others. Teachers, nurses, doctors, pharmacists, police officers, pharmacists, politicians, or anyone the public is expected to trust, may also lose their jobs due to a DUI.
While you don't necessarily need a driver's license to perform these jobs, your superiors may face serious pressure to let you go as a result of your DUI. They may also field complaints from the public if you continue to work there with a DUI on your record. You may also face the loss of a professional license, or have your IL license put on hold after a DUI conviction.
How Can I Protect My Job if I Am Convicted of a DUI?
There is very little you can do to protect your job if you have a DUI. Instead, you'll need to speak to an attorney about your options, and specifically ask him or her the question of, "Can you get fired for a DUI?"
For more information on DUI laws and other legal issues with your driver’s license, read our blog.