Today, applying for a job can be a long and emotionally charged process. As of November 2021, there are 6.9 million unemployed people in the United States. With this many job seekers, it’s important to put your best foot forward in the form of job experience, education, and strong references. Unfortunately, there may be aspects of your background that you are unable to update or improve, such as past criminal offenses. 

According to a recent study, the average state-wide number of drivers with a DUI (driving under the influence) on their record is 2.16 percent, with North Dakota having the most DUI’s. If you have been arrested or convicted of a DUI in the past, it’s important to understand how it can affect your future. According to Boulder DUI defense attorneys at Dolan + Zimmerman, LLP, “Being pulled over for a DUI can be disorienting, but there are essential steps to protect yourself and the outcome of any charges you may face.”

Will a DUI Show Up in Background Checks?

A background check is a process that is used to verify that a person is who they claim to be. This process includes confirming the validity of their criminal record, education, employment history, and other activities from their past. DUI’s often appear on background checks regardless if they are a felony or a misdemeanor since it is technically a crime, but this can vary depending on the state and if a DUI is considered a traffic violation.

If the candidate has been convicted of a DUI, it will trigger an alert on the background check. A trigger does not mean that you automatically “fail” the background check. This simply notifies the employer that there is an issue that requires review and consideration. If a DUI is severely hindering your job search, consult with a DUI attorney to see if you can have it expunged from your record. 

For someone facing a DUI charge, a common question that comes up is “What is the difference between a misdemeanor DUI and a felony DUI?” All states have different rules when it comes to deciding when a misdemeanor is upgraded to a felony. Most DUI’s are charged as misdemeanors, and can be changed to a felony depending on past offenses. 

How a DUI can Affect a Hiring Decision

While a DUI will not disqualify you for most positions, the criminal charge can cause the potential employer to have some concerns. This can include questioning the character and morals of the potential hire. Another factor could be if driving is a part of the job or having responsibilities that require frequent driving or travel.

If this happens, it’s crucial to keep your explanation of the DUI short and to sound apologetic. Follow this with examples of how you’ve taken responsibility and are working to make positive changes. 


Being charged with a DUI is a serious matter and can affect your future in ways you wouldn’t expect. If you are planning a night out with friends, arrange for another mode of transportation to avoid the difficulties that a DUI charge can bring and ensure safe travels for everyone.