For the average person in the state of California, the consequences of a DUI conviction can be shattering. The legal penalties can include substantial fines, a driver’s license suspension, probation, and possibly even some amount of time in jail.

But beyond the legal penalties, the long-term effects of a DUI conviction can actually be even more devastating. Your auto insurance rates will go up. People may not trust you. You may have trouble finding a job or keeping your job.

If you are arrested and charged with driving under the influence in California, you want to avoid as many of these consequences as you can, and you absolutely want to avoid a DUI conviction – if at all possible. In the worst scenario – when the evidence of guilt is undeniable – an Orange County DUI attorney can frequently arrange for a plea bargain or for alternative sentencing. After any arrest for driving under the influence in Southern California, an experienced Orange County DUI attorney should be contacted and consulted promptly.

Anyone convicted of driving under the influence will no longer be able to work as a driver or at any job that requires driving. Most employment applications ask job-seekers if they have any criminal convictions, and even for positions that do not involve driving, prospective employers who learn about a jobseeker’s DUI conviction may decide that the job should go to someone else.

Any conviction for driving under the influence can make it tougher to land a job in virtually any field of employment. When an employer must choose from two otherwise equally qualified candidates, a DUI conviction can be the deciding factor.

But what most drivers charged with DUI will want to know about is their current job. In California, can you be fired if you are convicted of driving under the influence? First of all, you should know that despite the extensive rights employees enjoy under California law, employment in California is an “at-will” relationship (unless you have an employment contract that specifies otherwise).

WHAT IS AN “AT-WILL” EMPLOYMENT RELATIONSHIP?

In an at-will relationship, an employee may resign at any time for any reason, and an employer may terminate employment at any time for any reason – provided that the termination is not discriminatory or retaliatory. The bottom line for Californians who face a DUI charge is that your employer may choose to terminate you for a DUI conviction or even a DUI arrest, and the law will be on the employer’s side.

In California, if you have to be away from your job because you are in jail, in court, or in alcohol treatment or counseling, your employer has the right to give your job to somebody else. Some employers are absolutely persuaded that a driving under the influence conviction is a sign of irresponsibility and poor judgment. Your employer’s reaction to a DUI arrest or conviction will depend on who the employer is, what field you work in, and your standing and record as an employee.

WHY WILL PROFESSIONALS ACCUSED OF DUI FACE SPECIAL SCRUTINY?

Teachers, school counselors, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, law enforcement officers, and others who are in a position of public trust almost always undergo particular scrutiny when facing DUI charges, and their employers may encounter strong pressure to take decisive action. Those who hold professional licenses may face disciplinary action and a possible suspension or revocation the professional license.

If you drive a company vehicle for a living – as a delivery driver, a bus or taxi driver, or even as a salesperson, for example – simply being arrested for DUI could mean the loss of your job, and a conviction would make that loss certain. You cannot drive while your license is suspended, and your job might not be there when the suspension is lifted. Some employers cannot insure drivers with DUI convictions; other employers have a policy against employing anyone convicted of driving under the influence.

Anyone who is charged with driving under the influence in Southern California will need the advice and services of an experienced Orange County DUI attorney. You will need an attorney with experience and success handling criminal DUI charges, and if you hold a professional license, you will also need an attorney who knows how to help if a licensing board considers disciplinary action against you.

Instead of putting your job or career at risk, the wiser strategy is simply this: Don’t Drink and Drive. A couple of drinks simply are not worth being arrested, going to court, losing your job, or being injured in an accident – or worse. In Orange County and across Southern California, ride services, limos, taxis, and bus services are everywhere, and most are available 24 hours a day every day.

WHAT COSTS MORE?

It’s true, taxis and rideshare services cost a few dollars, but they cost far less than a jail, a hospital, or a morgue. Anyone who is convicted of driving under the influence in Southern California, even for a misdemeanor first offense, is going to pay thousands of dollars in fines and fees and other penalties – and that’s entirely apart from any attorney fees. If you plan to drink with friends, make a plan for safe transportation at the same time.

Of course, if you are charged with driving under the influence, it does not necessarily mean that you will be convicted, serve time jail, pay fines, or be ordered to attend classes. You could be entirely innocent; in any case, the state must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to obtain a conviction. In Southern California, good DUI lawyers frequently prevail on behalf of their clients.

You have every reason to fight a DUI charge. Especially if you drive for a living – but even if you don’t – you must fight a DUI charge and do everything possible to avoid a conviction. If you are arrested for driving under the influence, remember that you have the right to remain silent.

Politely tell the police that you prefer not to answer any questions until your attorney is present. After a DUI arrest, do not plead guilty, do not sign anything, and do not admit to anything before you have consulted with an experienced California DUI defense lawyer.