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How Will A DUI Affect My Teaching Career?

Anyone can be charged with a DUI. Every day, people from all walks of life make the bad decision to get behind the wheel and drive after they have been drinking. They aren’t thinking about how a drunk driving charge will affect their professional life. Some people who hold jobs with professional certification (teachers, nurses, CDL drivers, lawyers and doctors) could face more severe consequences from their respective certification boards. Let’s look at the impact of a drunk driving on teachers.

Can I lose my teachers job if I am convicted of DUI?

  The short answer is it depends on a variety of things. Like other certified professionals, teachers face immediate firing, suspension, non-renewal of their school contract at the end of the school year and/or loss of teacher's certification. Different states and school districts handle each case in their own way. Most of the time, they look at the teacher involved and the circumstances surrounding the arrest. Was this his first brush with the law? How high was his BAC? What is his attitude concerning his arrest? What is his record with the school district? After these questions are answered, the board decides on the appropriate consequence; and yes, they could decide on termination. The board’s main responsibility is to the students within their district. It is hard to explain to parents that a teacher who has spent time in jail (possibly multiple times) will be working with their children.

Will I lose my teacher certification after a DUI conviction?

  Different states have different laws governing their teacher certification programs. Some state laws only affect public school teachers while others govern both public and private school educators. Various states have stricter laws than others and depending on the circumstances of the arrest and conviction the state board of education could decide to revoke your teaching license. Both the local and state boards will focus on the negative impact on the school due to the poor choices of the teacher. Most teaching contracts have a ‘morals clause’ that gives them the right to suspend or terminate any teacher convicted of a crime. This clause protects the school district against a possible wrongful termination lawsuit. Courts generally side with the school because it recognizes the school’s responsibility to protect young and vulnerable students.

Do I have to tell school administration about my DUI?

  It is almost always a good idea to notify your principal early on about your drunk driving arrest. Many states have a Code of Ethics that requires you to fully disclose something like a DUI arrest and/or conviction. It is usually not in your best interest to wait until after your trial to talk with your administrator. Many times, someone will find out and inform school personnel and this will reflect poorly on you. After your arrest and you retain an experienced DUI attorney, you should discuss your employment situation with your attorney and he can advise you the best time to notify the school of your arrest and pending trial. You will probably not be the first teacher he has represented in a drunk driving case and he can rely on past experiences to help you make the best decision for you.
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