The Employment Consequences of a DWI Conviction in North Carolina

The legal consequences of being convicted of Driving While Impaired (DWI) in North Carolina can be severe. Under North Carolina law, there are various sentencing levels for DWI charges. The level with the most severe penalties is an Aggravated Level 1 DWI, which carries a penalty of up to three years in jail and a fine of up to $10,000.

A DWI conviction can result in a driver’s licensing suspension of up to one year. You may be required to do community service, attend Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School, and complete a chemical dependency assessment. However, these are not the only consequences of being convicted of a DWI in North Carolina. Even after you have paid your fines and served your time, there are long-term personal and professional consequences of being convicted of a DWI.

A DWI Conviction Will Cost You Time and Money

In addition to court-mandated fees and fines, a DWI conviction carries many other hidden expenses, including the following:

  • Fees to restore your driver’s license
  • Fees to attend Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School
  • The cost to install an ignition interlock device and monthly fees to maintain the device
  • Fees to restore your driver’s license
  • Higher car insurance rates

Completing court-mandated community service, substance abuse assessments, and education can be a time-consuming endeavor that negatively affects your ability to do your job.

Negative Consequences for Current or Future Employment

You may or may not be able to keep your current job if convicted of a DWI. Being charged or convicted of a DWI can negatively affect your employment. Those with public-facing jobs, such as police officers, teachers, or government officials, are more likely to be fired if convicted of a DWI. If you work for a private company, your company may have its policies regarding reporting criminal convictions and how your employer will handle the conviction.

If your company requires you to report a DWI conviction and you fail to do so, you may be fired from your job. However, a company may choose not to fire you when you are convicted of a DWI. The policy may be detailed in the employee handbook. Jobs that require certification, professional licensing, or security clearances are more likely to be negatively affected by an employee being convicted of a DWI. For example, you may be fired for a DWI conviction if you are in one of the following fields or industries:

  • The North Carolina Medical Board can suspend a medical doctor’s license for "drunkenness" or "excessive use" of alcohol or drugs
  • If you hold a commercial drivers' license, you may lose your license if you’re convicted of a DWI
  • Your nursing license may be suspended or revoked by the North Carolina Board of Nursing if you’re convicted of "any crime which indicates that the nurse is unfit or incompetent to practice nursing."
  • The State Board of Barber Examiners can revoke a license to practice due to a felony DWI conviction
  • Air traffic controllers or pilots who are convicted of DWI will undergo a review of their medical fitness. If they are found medically unfit because of substance abuse problems, they may not be allowed to continue working.
  • Military personnel and other government employees may have their security clearances revoked if they are convicted of a DWI
How Will a DWI Conviction Affect My Future Employment Opportunities?

A DWI conviction can hurt your future employment prospects. Many North Carolina employers will ask if you have ever been convicted of a felony when you apply for a job. In most cases, employers cannot automatically refuse to hire you if you have been convicted of a DWI. However, other criminal convictions can automatically disqualify you for specific jobs. Potential employers can have a right to perform a criminal background check during the hiring process.

If you are convicted of a misdemeanor DWI, that conviction will remain on your record for many years. If you are required to drive a vehicle, it is more likely that your DWI conviction will prevent you from being hired. A DWI can also prevent you from gaining licensing or certification from a state licensing board. Even if you do not lose your job, a DWI conviction can negatively affect your professional reputation and relationship with coworkers.

Schedule a Free Case Evaluation

If you have been charged with a DWI in Charlotte, North Carolina, the attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, are here to help. Contact a skilled defense attorney to schedule a free case evaluation and learn more about how we can fight for you.