It’s a situation that many adults have found themselves in. You attend a party, you have a good time, and you enjoy a little bit of alcohol while you are there. However, you may not have been paying as much attention as you should have to the amount you were consuming. When the time comes to leave, you might not suspect you’re drunk, nor over the limit for alcohol consumption that is legally allowed to drive.
The problem is that you need to be somewhere tomorrow, and you can’t just sleep at the location of the party, you need to get home. So you take a chance, you get behind the wheel and you get caught. A police officer stops you while you are driving, tests you for sobriety and you fail. You are now charged with DUI, or driving under the influence, (or driving while ability impaired, refusal to take a breath sample, blowing over .08) and this is something that goes on your criminal record. But how can it affect you?
In The Eyes of the Law
A DUI conviction, even though you may think you didn’t hurt anyone—especially if you were stopped by a police officer—is considered a criminal offence in Canada. This means that if you are charged with a DUI and found guilty and convicted of it in court, you now have a criminal conviction on your record.
In the event that you apply for a job, and the potential employer conducts a legal criminal background check of your history, that DUI conviction WILL come up as a “red flag” on a criminal background check. Your potential employer will, at that point, have the discretion to read up on the exact nature of your criminal conviction and make a decision about whether they want to hire someone with a criminal record.
Unfortunately, in most cases when a criminal check is positive, employers will simply choose to make the safe choice and choose another candidate. When faced with a decision to hire similarly qualified candidates who can all do a job, there’s no reason “on paper” that an employer shouldn’t simply hire the person who is not only qualified but also has a clean record.
The PR Problem
Teachers, for example, need to set a good example to students. From the view of the school, if it is discovered that a teacher who is dealing with students has a criminal record, the parents—regardless of the actual nature of the conviction—will be upset about the idea of a former criminal interacting with students. The same situation can be applied to all health care workers including nurses, PSWs, health care aides, etc.
The actual character and effectiveness of the individual are obviously important factors. But the perception of that criminal conviction can often overshadow other considerations in the eyes of employers especially in the education, health and other fields. This is especially true if there were other candidates available who didn’t have any problems with a criminal conviction in their past no matter how old or how small the conviction.
You Have Options
Fortunately, the Canadian legal system does not believe that someone should spend the rest of their lives paying for a mistake. Whether the criminal conviction is a DUI, Impaired Driving, Refusal to Provide Breathe Sample, Blowing Over .08 or any other conviction for that matter, it can eventually be erased with an application for a record suspension.
A record suspension used to be known as a “pardon,” but the effect is still the same. Once a record suspension has been approved, anyone that conducts a criminal background check will see nothing show up on the record. It will be like nothing happened.
A record suspension is not easy to obtain. A DUI conviction is what is usually known as a “summary offence.” In a typical DUI conviction, if you were stopped by a police officer, tested for sobriety and failed, this will normally be the type of conviction you receive if you lose in court. If you refuse to provide a breathe sample or blow over the legal limit than you can also be convicted of those offences as opposed to a driving under the influence or driving while ability impaired. All of these convictions are usually considered to be a summary offence.
In the case of summary offences, once any fines or probatioin sentences have been completed, a person with a conviction can apply for a record suspension after five years have passed from the completion of all sentencing. However, things change if the charge is more serious. If a DUI resulted in injuries or even the death of other people, it may be viewed as an indictable offence, meaning that it will require a ten year period after sentencing is complete to apply for a record suspension.
If you have a DUI conviction and you don’t want it to affect your employment opportunities, we can help. Contact us with your questions and concerns, and we can help you get a record suspension.