November 19, 2019
What Your DUI Conviction Could Mean if You Work for a School
More than likely, it hits first offenders the most. In fact, the reality might strike you as surreal. Be prepared. You absolutely need to know what your DUI conviction could mean if you work for a school.
Each state handles drunk driving or drugged driving convictions differently. In Pennsylvania, a DUI conviction represents a big deal for anyone working within a school system. According to the Department of Education, Pennsylvania has 500 public school districts. If you’re employed by any of them, a charter school, or a private school, you should know the repercussions of a DUI conviction.
To be clear, it isn’t just teachers that need to be concerned. Some other examples of school personnel who could find their employment jeopardized by a DUI conviction include:
- Substitute teachers and other staff members
- Student teachers
- Bus drivers
- Cafeteria workers
- Independent contractors
- School secretaries and clerical staff
First things first. If you are operating a school bus or school vehicle, the threshold for driving after imbibing alcohol is even lower than for other drunk driving charges. According to Chapter 38, Section 3802(f) of the Pennsylvania Statutes, you face restrictions as far as driving, operating, or being in control of the movement of such vehicles. More particularly, your blood alcohol content (BAC) level cannot be 0.02% or greater within two hours after any of those activities.
The law doesn’t just rely on BAC levels. You can also face charges solely based on the fact that you imbibed a sufficient amount of alcohol that made you incapable of driving, operating or being in physical control. Of course, there’s also the issue of using controlled dangerous substances.
DUI Conviction for School Personnel
Notably, DUI convictions impact both existing and prospective school employees. You may be familiar with the term “Good moral character” or GMC as it applies to anyone who works within the education field. In fact, the statute calls for every professional employee certified or permitted to work in the schools to be of good moral character.
As you may or may not know, the GMC review is based on an application process. Among the considerations are whether you were arrested, charged, or convicted. Of course, this goes for any type of offense.
With the exception of summary offenses, such as disorderly persons or underage drinking, all crimes become part of the review. A DUI conviction represents a misdemeanor and therefore becomes part of the application process.
In the meantime, there are also concerns about your rehabilitation efforts. If applicable, you will be expected to supply information about the completion of an accelerated rehabilitative program (ARD). Also, you should reveal any information that shows you participated in either court-appointed or voluntary drug or alcohol treatment.
Under no circumstances should you attempt to hide your DUI arrest or conviction. Without question, your employer will find it. It is your legal obligation to report it – even if it causes you to face embarrassment.
Generally speaking, it’s the district superintendent of schools who makes decisions when it comes to the status of your employment. An experienced DUI attorney can both help you as far as fighting charges and assist you in negotiating the ineligibility period as far as your job.
The bottom line is that it is up to the school to make decisions regarding your employment, discipline, or termination. This is in addition to any statutory requirements as far as an automatic period of ineligibility.