Does a conviction on charges of drunk driving mean the end of your career? Not necessarily. It may depend on factors such as the nature of the work and mitigating factors that may be present. There are also different implications under state and federal law.

An employer, whether current or prospective, should look at the entire picture before making any decisions as to the future of your employment. However, a DUI may have some negative impact on your ability to get and keep a job.

Current employment

Pennsylvania is an at-will employment state. This means that if you do not have an employment contract, your employer can dismiss you at any time, for almost any reason. If you do have a contract, your job may be safe unless there is a specific clause in the contract that requires you to avoid arrests and convictions.

According to Chron.com, your employer has the right to fire you for DUI if you work a transportation-based job. Your record could expose your employer to liability lawsuits or higher insurance rates.

Prospective employment

When applying for a new job, your employer has the right to conduct a criminal background check and to question you about any arrests or convictions. However, unless he or she can demonstrate a compelling business reason not to hire you on the basis of a DUI arrest or conviction, a prospective employer cannot bar you from the job solely for that reason under federal law.

While a DUI conviction may remain on your record indefinitely, an arrest with no conviction only appears up to seven years.