In Texas, your employer has the legal right to fire you for a DWI conviction in most cases.
Although the statutes prohibit firing an employee for a variety of other reasons, no policy or law protects you from termination for a criminal conviction. Some union and government employees have protection from at-will termination. However, most Texas workers enjoy no such protections. Consequently, your employer likely has the right to fire you for this reason.
Fortunately, most employers will not terminate you without cause. If you can avoid or, at the very least, explain a DWI conviction, you may avoid a trip to the unemployment office and the uphill battle of getting a job with a DWI on your record.
Which Jobs Increase Your Chances of Getting Fired for a DWI?
Although almost all Texas employers can fire you for a DWI conviction, some companies have no choice but to terminate you for drunk driving.
Jobs That Involve Driving or Operating Machinery
If driving is a part of your job duties, your employer’s insurance likely will not allow them to keep you on. If you operate machinery or work in any role where safety could be an issue, you are likely to face the same challenge.
It is important to note that if you are a truck driver, you will lose your commercial driver’s license for a DWI. This means your employer will basically be forced to fire you after a commercial DWI.
Jobs That Involve Children or Vulnerable Adults
If you work with children – as a teacher, daycare provider, therapist, etc. – your employer may fire you for a drunk driving conviction due to the potential liability it creates. Likewise, you may get fired for a DWI if you work with other vulnerable populations, including seniors and adults with special needs.
Jobs That Involve Sensitive Data or Financial Assets
In fields involving sensitive information and financial assets, such as medical, insurance, banking, securities, or real estate – you could face termination simply because you are a convicted criminal, no matter what your offense may be.
Jobs That Require Professional Licenses
Most Texas professional licensing boards will reject your application for licensure if you have a DWI on your record. Likewise, they may strip you of your license if you get a DWI. If your job requires you to hold a license (e.g., teachers, nurses, real estate agents, etc.), a drunk driving conviction can jeopardize your livelihood.
Even if you do not work in any of these industries, avoiding a DWI conviction may be the most effective way to avoid losing your job due to drunk driving.
Can You Do Anything to Avoid Getting Fired for a DWI?
If you are convicted of a DWI, the best thing you can do in many cases is be upfront about it. Your boss will find out anyway, so getting ahead of it will likely be beneficial. If you are apologetic and make it clear it was a one-time error in judgment, your employer may be more understanding.
Of course, avoiding a DWI conviction is the best possible outcome.
A Texas DWI lawyer can help you explore your options. Generally, however, your options for avoiding a drunk driving conviction include:
- Negotiating with the prosecutor to have your DWI charges reduced or dropped
- Mounting a successful DWI defense in a criminal trial
- Participating in a diversion or deferred adjudication program