Can I get fired for my DUI charge?

Drunk driving arrests are stressful from beginning to end. You may be thinking about how to break the news to your family and friends. But your biggest worry may be whether you should tell your boss. The possibility of getting fired for driving under the influence (DUI) certainly exists. You may be able to avoid this, however, if you find the right way to communicate the news. At a minimum, voluntarily telling your boss about your situation might result in a lesser form of discipline short of termination.

Employment in Tennessee

Tennessee is an “employment at will” state, which means an employer could fire their employees anytime and for any reason, with some exceptions. Having a DUI charge could be a potential reason for your boss to fire you, but it does not mean they will. It may all come down to your circumstances and the way you handle the situation.

Talking to your employer

It may be in your best interest to tell your employer about your DUI charge before they find out about it from some other source. Someone else may alert your employer, or they may find out about it if they run a background check on you.  You should talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney first, before talking to your employer to determine if and when is the best time to disclose your DUI.  After all, being charged with a DUI does not mean you are guilty of DUI. When the moment to talk to your boss about your DUI arrives, keep in mind the following:

  • Don’t get nervous or carried away by your emotions. Be direct and explain to him what happened.
  • Assure them that the charge won’t impact your performance.
  • Inform them how you plan to get to work on time if your driving privileges are restricted.

Don’t take your boss’s response personally. Don’t make excuses. Don’t get defensive.  A bad reaction on your part could only make things worse.

These considerations are different if you are in a workplace setting covered by a collective bargaining agreement negotiated between your labor union and management. In those situations, you might want to consult with your union steward or local union official before speaking with your boss. The “just cause” provision in most collective bargaining agreements provide more job-related protections than those available to employees-at-will.

Skip to content