The fears probably began as soon as you saw police lights flashing in the rearview mirror. What am I going to do now? How is this going to affect my future? Is everything ruined?

A DUI can be a serious obstacle to career goals, but in many fields today, you have a fighting chance. The offense itself doesn’t instantly limit you to low-wage and menial jobs. What’s more, in the past few years, many state and local laws have changed to ban blanket criminal background filtering in the hiring process. This helps people who have made mistakes get back in the game in a way that wasn’t possible beforehand.

All of it depends, as always, on you. What exactly was your DUI offense? How long ago was it, and what have you done since? What are your aspirations for your career? And how flexible can you be?

Top Fields Open to Persons with Prior DUIs

Although retail, day labor, and food service positions are often open to those with criminal records, they do not have to be your last stop. Many skilled trades and construction jobs offer the potential for strong compensation and steady work for those who have overcome previous convictions. These include:

  • Welding
  • Carpentry
  • Electrical work
  • HVAC technology
  • Oil and gas employment

You can pursue a wide selection of professions—corporate, creative, or caring—such as:

  • Sales and marketing
  • Office administration (e.g. reception)
  • Logistics and supply chain management
  • Animal care—including dog training and pet sitting
  • Cosmetology—working as a barber, hairdresser, or aesthetician
  • Information technology (IT)—including web design, app development, systems administration, and other tech work
  • Culinary arts—food preparation and cooking; specialist chef positions such as baking, desserts, and fine dining
  • Freelance writing and editing (internet, social media)
  • Fine arts (painting, drawing, photography)
  • Performing arts (music, dance, acting)
  • Entrepreneurship and self-employment—starting your own business

Self-employment may be a necessary first step for some of the above fields. And after all, when you’re self-employed, you’ve already done the background check. Productive self-employment can make a strong showing on your resume if you do choose to interview with another employer.

“Ban the Box” Laws and the Hiring Process

Laws like these forbid an employer from asking about criminal history on initial applications. The term refers to a checkbox beside the question “Have you ever been convicted of a crime?” Many states, cities, and local governments have laws like this for some or all of their employers. Federal agencies and contractors have also dropped the box.

The state of Delaware bans the box for public employment, though not private employment. “Ban the box” laws apply to many public and private employers in Maryland, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, whether by state or local law. Private employers, large or small, may also have a ban-the-box policy. In any case, the employer generally has a right to check for criminal history later in the hiring process, sometimes only after a conditional job offer.

At that time, you will need to face the issue frankly, without making any excuses for yourself. The interviewer will want to see that you have taken action to improve your life and seen results. If employment has been slow for you, volunteer work can help to show that you are a determined, reliable self-starter.

Problematic Career Goals

Unfortunately, a DUI may exclude you from employment in some jobs or careers, such as:

  • Childcare or working with children/students
  • Jobs that require driving and deliveries
  • Jobs involving the operation of heavy machinery
  • Careers involving character and fitness screening (such as law, medicine, and government positions requiring security clearance)

Even where an employer would like to give you a chance, regulations or business insurance policies may block them from hiring you for these tasks.

If you are already on a career path in a field like this, it is worth investigating where you can be employed and how you can achieve your goals with the progress you have already made. For example, if you hope to become a lawyer, you may still be able to accomplish this, depending on the rules of your state’s bar. It may also be possible for you to practice medicine or become a nurse—again, depending on the laws of your state of residence. Where it is not possible, you may be able to use your training and connections to work in a related field.

After a DUI, your path may be more difficult. It will all depend on how long ago it was, how well you can demonstrate your growth, and—crucially—how severe the offense was.

Handling Your Personal Situation

Your chances of success are greater when an offense was a long past misdemeanor and did not involve property damage or injuries. A singular offense can be explained as a youthful mistake or a symptom of personal difficulties that you have since addressed. This is why an experienced DUI attorney is a critical investment in your future.

Delaware DUI laws are strict, and when you have been charged, you need an attorney who will fight for every advantage you can get. If there is any possible way to get charges reduced, dismissed, or expunged, you will need a DUI attorney’s help to find and pursue it. Matt Stiller will work to get you the best possible outcome for your record and your career. We want to talk to you about your options. Call us today at (302) 678-8700 or 1-855-Tip-The-Scales to schedule a case review in our Dover or Wilmington offices.