In Texas, the offense of driving while intoxicated (DWI) is covered under Section 49.04 of the Texas Penal Code. If someone is convicted of DWI, he or she faces up to 180 days in jail, up to a $2,000 fine, up to a one-year driver’s license suspension and more. Given the fact that a DWI conviction could mean spending up to six months behind bars, it’s understandable why DWI defendants often ask, “Can I lose my job if I’m found guilty of DWI?” Here, we’re going to take a closer look at the law.
Like most states, Texas is an “employment-at-will” state. What does this mean? It means that when an employee does not have a written employment contract, his or her employer can fire the employee for a good cause, a bad cause, or for no reason or cause at all. But it goes both ways. In an employment-at-will situation, the employee can quit whenever they’d like, unless the employee agreed to an arrangement regarding quitting the company.
Of course, the employment-at-will concept does have its limits. An employer cannot terminate an employee based on discrimination, because this would be in violation of state or federal laws. Employers are prohibited from firing employees based on an employee’s race, age, disability, nation of origin, or religious affiliation. So, where does this leave employees with criminal convictions for DWI?
Can You Be Fired for a DWI?
In Texas, employees can be fired for criminal convictions because unlike discrimination, employees are not protected if they are arrested or convicted of a crime. Can your employer fire you because you are arrested, charged or convicted of DWI? Yes, absolutely. Even if you are not found guilty of DWI, your employer can still use it against you and you have no legal recourse, unless you have a written employment contract that protects you.
How will a DWI arrest or conviction affect your current job? It all depends on your occupation and how your current employer feels about you and DWI convictions. Every employer is different. If you are a driver, or if you work in healthcare, real estate, education, or childcare, a DWI arrest or conviction can certainly jeopardize your job.
On the other hand, if you work in retail, the restaurant industry, construction, manufacturing, or another industry that’s away from the public eye, your employer may not have a big issue with your DWI. However, if you are sent to jail for months, the real question may be, “Will your job still be there when you’re released from custody?” And if not, “How will a criminal conviction affect future employment?”
Suggested reading: “Effects of a Texas DWI.”
To protect your employment opportunities, contact us to meet with a top-rated Dallas DWI lawyer. Learn more about Attorney Peter Barrett by clicking here.