As a Pennsylvania college student, you know that there is much more to campus life than going to class and studying. You also have football games, basketball games, fraternity parties, sorority parties and plenty of just plain hanging out with your friends and classmates. You also know that alcohol plays a big part at most of these festivities. But before you overindulge and possibly wind up facing DUI charges, take a few moments to think about what a DUI conviction could do to your future.
Partying aside, the main reason you decided to pursue a college or graduate degree was so that you could receive the education – and the letters after your name – required to allow you to work in your chosen field. What you may not be aware of, however, is that virtually all licensing boards and employers conduct background checks of their applicants. If a DUI or other conviction shows up, you could find it quite difficult to obtain your professional license. And even if you overcome that hurdle, you could find yourself severely limited as to the types of jobs you can find.
The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that a DUI arrest remains on your record for no more than seven years. If convicted, however, that stays on your record forever unless you get the conviction expunged. Then, too, the FCRA only applies to employers who conduct their background checks through an outside agency. Any employer that does its own in-house background checks has no restrictions on the type of information it can find about you.
You should also realize that a background check can provide a potential employer with more than just a record of your criminal conviction(s). It can provide negative information pertaining to all of the following:
- Your driving record in any state in which you ever lived
- Your driving record in any state in which you received a DUI or other vehicle-related conviction
- Your driver’s license suspensions and/or revocations in any state in which you ever lived and the reasons therefor
- Your court records
- Your incarceration records
- Your Facebook and other social media information and that of your friends about you
Negative employment impacts
While a potential employer cannot outright discriminate against you due to your DUI or other criminal conviction, virtually all states let employers reject certain applicants for certain jobs if they have a DUI or other conviction on their record. Consequently, you may find yourself unable to work in any job entailing the following:
- Working with children
- Working with elderly people
- Working with disabled people
- Driving a vehicle, especially one requiring a commercial driver’s license
Also keep in mind that many employers view a DUI conviction as a serious character flaw. This can make you an undesirable employee in their eyes, and they therefore can give the job you want to another applicant equally as qualified as you, but who has no criminal conviction on his or her own record.
Considering the potential consequences of a DUI conviction while in college, your best strategy is to remain sober while engaging in all your extracurricular activities. It also goes without saying that you should never, under any circumstances, drink and drive.