How a DUI Can Affect Your Career as a Firefighter

Mar 30, 2016 — by James E. Novak Attorney PLLC
Tags: Dui

Firefighters saving someone from a burning housePeople charged with a DUI know that they can count on James Novak, a leading drunk driving and criminal defense attorney in Phoenix. Not only does he provide strong DUI defense and legal representation, Mr. Novak can also provide insight for people with a previous DUI trying to seek employment and move forward in life.

We've previously looked at the challenges people with DUIs face if they want to be teachers. Let's now consider the challenges a DUI can pose for those who want to become firefighters.

Can a Current Firefight Be Fired for a DUI?

Yes. In fact, some fire departments make it a policy to terminate employees for drunk driving, drug possession, and other kinds of offenses. In 2009, for example, a firefighter in Tuscon was fired after a DUI while he was off-duty.

Can Someone with a DUI Become a Fire Fighter?

While the answer is technically yes, having a DUI or a drug possession charge on your record can make it very difficult to be hired as a firefighter.

Just looking at the hiring process for firefighters in the city of Phoenix, the website notes that applicants are subject to a background check. The background check is meant to "establish evidence of good moral character, a well-adjusted personality, community commitment." This includes "a pattern of conduct acceptable to the Phoenix Fire Department," a phrase that could mean people with a past DUI offense may not be considered for the position.

To put it another way, if two candidates for a position as a firefighter are essentially identical save for the fact that one of them has a DUI, a fire department is more likely to hire the person without a DUI.

Understanding Discretionary Disqualifiers and Zero Tolerance Policies

Many fire departments treat DUI charges as a discretionary disqualifier. This means that a DUI may be cause for not hiring a candidate, but the choice is ultimately up to the hiring manager.

It's also possible that a fire department may have a zero tolerance policy for DUI convictions, meaning that any charge on your record automatically disqualifies you from being considered for employment.

The Date of the Incident and Patterns of Behavior

The date of your DUI charge can have a major bearing on whether or not you are hired by a fire department. A recent DUI means you will most likely not be hired, but if your DUI happened years ago and there are no further signs of disruptive or dangerous behavior, you're more likely to be hired. Again, it may be an uphill climb depending on your situation and the fire department itself.

Overcoming Employment Challenges Caused by a DUI

Given how the background check for firefighters tends to stress moral character and community commitment, it's important that people with a DUI on their record try to go above and beyond the basic penalties if they'd like to become a firefighter. By this we mean trying to volunteer for organizations against drunk driving and volunteering in your community in a way that demonstrates your ability to change after an indiscretion.

It will not guarantee employment by a fire department, but it will demonstrate you've learned from a past mistake, and hiring managers may take that into account when looking over your background check.

Contact The Law Office of James Novak

To learn more about how DUI charges can affect your livelihood and career options, be sure to contact a skilled drunk driving and criminal defense attorney today. James Novak will help you make sound choices about your legal options.

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