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Drunk Driving Can Ruin Your Career

Although you won't find "loss of job" listed in Washington state's DUI laws, a drunk driving arrest can have a devastating impact upon your continued employment. If you need to drive to get to work, or you must drive to do your job, a DUI arrest in Washington state sets in motion two ways you can suffer due to loss of your license:

(1) administratively at the hands of the Department of Licensing

(2) by court action if you are subsequently convicted of DUI.

In Washington state, when a breath test was taken and the result was .08 or higher, the Department of Licensing will seek to administratively suspend your license even if you are not charged with the crime of DUI.

In most cases you will be eligible to apply for a temporary restricted license but only after you have served thirty days of the suspension. (You must wait at least 90 days to apply for a temporary restricted license if you have refused the breath test.) Thus, if your job absolutely depends upon driving, a DUI arrest can make you unable to perform your job for a minimum of thirty days.

IF you survive the thirty days of absolute suspension, you are then eligible for a temporary restricted license which will permit you to drive to and from work for the remaining sixty days of the ninety day license suspension.

Be advised that your employer must sign the tempoorary restricted license application, and some employers will fire an employee who has had a license suspension if the job involves driving a company vehicle.

An additional complication arises if your job requires you to drive company cars or if you transport potential clients in your vehicle. As a condition of granting a temporary restricted license after a DUI arrest, the Washington state Department of Licensing requires proof that an ignition interlock device is installed in your vehicle. An ignition interlock device is a breath testing machine attached to your car's ignition that you must blow into every time you start the vehicle and also periodically while driving the vehicle.

The car won't start if alcohol is present, and the horn will honk and lights flash if alcohol is detected while driving. The job implications of this in-car breath test device are ominous: Not many employers want ignition interlock devices installed in company cars, and few potential clients are impressed by a sales person who is required to drive an ignition interlocked vehicle.

This is a disastrous situation for sales persons such as real estate agents.

Beyond this, individuals who must travel for business and then who must rent cars at destination sales locations will be unable to rent cars during the time an ignition interlock is required, thus impacting the ability to travel for business. At present, no car rental agencies are known to have ignition interlock equipped vehicles in their fleets.

All of the above applies where a license suspension was administratively imposed by the Washington State Department of Licensing. It gets worse if there is a DUI conviction, even if the driver previously had a clean record.

Even with no prior record, up to a year in jail can be imposed and if the breath test was refused, a two-year license revocation is imposed.

Then, the ignition interlock requirement exists for one year after the suspension has been served.

If there is a prior DUI offense within seven years of the date of the arrest for the current incident, things get much worse if your job requires interstate travel. New Washington state DUI legislation requires such a person to obtain permission from the Department of Corrections before traveling interstate. The application process takes time and will greatly impede or even prevent interstate business travel.

There are some careers that will be jeopardized by a DUI arrest or conviction for reasons other than loss of the ability to drive.

Corporate officers, public figures, sports figures or employees with security clearances or those in sensitive positions may find, if the matter comes to the attention of the media, that the impact of the resultant adverse publicity is more damaging to the career than the actual "legal" consequences of a DUI. The author of this article has represented individuals so situated. Such cases must be defended well and handled carefully, with the objective of preserving the career while minimizing potential legal consequences.


.Jon Scott Fox is a partner in the Bellevue, Washington firm of Fox Bowman Duarte.

With over eighty years combined legal experience, this firm has gained a national reputation for excellence in DUI defense. Mr. Fox has over twenty-three years defending DUI charges and is the author of Washington's first webpage on the subject: DUIdefense.

By: Jon Fox

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