Consequences Of A Conviction For DUI


For five years Kayla volunteered with a local after-school reading program helping disadvantaged children improve their reading skills. Because the volunteer position was working with children, Kayla had to get the state-required clearance, which consisted of a fingerprint criminal background check, known as a “live scan.”

After Kayla got a DUI, the volunteer program was informed that Kayla’s clearance was revoked and that effective immediately, she could no longer volunteer with the program. Kayla was surprised to say the least. What does a first-time DUI have to do with helping under-privileged children learn to read? In order to continue as a volunteer, Kayla would have to apply for a criminal record exemption. Kayla was humiliated; she felt like she had just been accused of being a child molester.

Many people are unaware of the effect a DUI has on any position, whether volunteer or paid, that involves working with children. Under Health and Safety Code section 1596.874, any person who provides care and supervision to children or any staff person, volunteer, or employee who has contact with children in a facility that provides child care must have a criminal clearance. A criminal clearance is only given to those individuals who have never been convicted of a crime other than minor traffic violations. When Kayla first got her clearance, she had no criminal record but the DUI was a misdemeanor crime and therefore triggered the revocation of her clearance.

The law does provide that conviction on some crimes—a first-time DUI being one—may qualify for an application for a criminal record exemption. But the process of applying for this exemption is not easy and can be quite an embarrassment to the person applying. The criminal record exemption process requires that the applicant provide certain documents to the State Department of Social Services. Upon review of the records, the Department may grant an exemption upon “substantial and convincing evidence to support a reasonable belief that the applicant . . . [is] of good character so as to justify . . . granting an exemption” (Health and Safety Code §1596.874 (f)(1).)

In considering an exemption, the Department must consider factors showing evidence of good character and rehabilitation, including but not limited to:

1) The nature of the crime and whether it involved violence;

2) Period of time since the crime was committed and the number of offenses;

3) Circumstances surrounding the commission of the crime that would demonstrate the unlikelihood of repetition;

4) Activities since the conviction, including employment, participation in therapy or education, that would indicate changed behavior;

5) Character references; and

6) Evidence of honesty and truthfulness as revealed in the submitted application documents.

Under the regulations, if the application for the criminal record exemption is not submitted within 45 days of the Department’s notice that the clearance has been revoked, the Department will close the case and the person for whom the clearance was revoked can no longer work in any job or volunteer position that involves the care of children. Other professions are similarly exposed to these consequences, including day-care workers, social workers, some teachers, and some probation officers.

Getting a DUI can have additional consequences beyond a suspended license, DUI-mandated classes, and probation; it can jeopardize your ability to volunteer with children or even your job.   If you would like to know more about the laws regarding driving under the influence of alcohol or other drugs in California, contact Orange County Criminal Defense Attorney William M. Weinberg at his Irvine, California office at 949-474-8008.

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