Felony DUI in California
A felony DUI is “a driving-while-intoxicated charge prosecutable as a felony because of an aggravating circumstance, esp. if a minor under a specified age (often 15 or below) was a passenger, the driver had a previous DUI within a specified period (often ten years), or the driver caused an injury accident.” [Black’s Law]
If you have a felony DUI on your record and are looking for work, first and foremost, do not give up hope. Yes, it is difficult and frustrating, to be sure, but probably not as difficult and emotionally draining as what you’ve already been through, endured, and survived.
Endurance and survival are currencies in your situation. The more time that has elapsed since your conviction, the better off you are; the less the conviction will matter in the present. Instead, it can become an interesting, instructive, and inspirational narrative of your past. All those programs you attended as part of your rehabilitation have, despite their attendant hassles, allowed you to acquire valuable public speaking and active listening skills. You, who have learned what you’ve learned, know how—if you so choose—to score and be winning in an employment interview.
In many states, including California, when you fill out a job application or submit a resume, you are not required to divulge any information about past criminal convictions. Or, more accurately, due to the ‘Ban the Box’ Law [AB-1008] implemented in 2018, prospective employers are not allowed to ask. The idea is that the employer should not be judging you in advance based on your criminal record. Once the employer (conditionally) offers you a job, they’ll likely want you to consent to a background check. Expect the information about your felony conviction to come up on your background check.
There are federal, state, and local rules controlling the conditions under which an employer can decide to rescind their conditional employment offer based on the information revealed in a background check.
A qualified attorney can help you navigate a potential employer’s non-compliance.
A Certificate of Rehabilitation is a court order declaring that a person convicted of a felony is now rehabilitated. If a petition for a Certificate of Rehabilitation is granted, it is forwarded to the Governor by the court and constitutes the application for a pardon. [ PC § 4852.01 to 4852.21 ]
Expunging a California DUI
Having your record expunged or sealed is a complicated process that it’s best to have an attorney help you navigate. If your record is successfully expunged or sealed, you are technically able to answer ‘no’ to the question of whether or not you’ve been convicted of a felony.
However, because private background-check companies and media outlets don’t always purge their records, even an expunged or sealed record might still show up. Furthermore, even if your attorney successfully petitions to have a DUI criminal record expunged or sealed, DMV infractions can remain on your record indefinitely. Once you’ve had your record expunged or sealed, you can (and should) certainly explain any background check inaccuracies to the employment ‘powers that be.’
Good employers will consider the nature of the crime, the time elapsed since the crime, and the nature of the job. So, if your prospective job does not involve driving or operating heavy machinery or equipment, it’s possible that no DMV background check will be conducted. With an office job or any non-driving related job, your DMV record obviously ought to be less significant. If an employer isn’t open to working with you after you’ve been honest and straightforward about your past, you probably don’t want to work with them anyway.
And, if you don’t want to go through any of that uncertainty, you can get in touch with one of the organizations that help felons find jobs, such as Honest Jobs. Founded by a professionally frustrated former felon, Honest Jobs specializes in connecting former felons with opportunities where skills and abilities, not past mistakes, are of paramount importance. Their national database is loaded with employers ready to hire you and their job-matching algorithm will increase both your job search efficiency and your satisfaction. Similarly, the U.S. Department of Labor’s ‘careeronestop‘ can provide helpful resources and direction.
When you apply for work at smaller businesses or when someone you know recommends you for a position, there may be no background check at all. You’ll be able to prove yourself based solely on your merits.
If you decide to be your own boss, remember that, depending on your business, self-employment often requires licensing. Find out what you need to do to get the professional license you need and, if that seems daunting, then invest in yourself by getting expert help to guide you through the licensing process.
As you already know, life’s obstacles are unavoidable. Securing housing and employment, maintaining relationships and sobriety are difficult challenges for almost everyone; having a DUI Felony on your record makes it just that much more complicated. If you’ve had experience with life’s obstacles, then you know that confronting them often opens up brilliant new possibilities.
The Best Move
A good attorney can help you turn obstacles into fair chance success using the courts.
Need a Criminal Defense Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529
Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Criminal Defense Attorney who has over 20 years of practice defending a variety of criminal cases.