What Indiana lawmakers call operating while intoxicated (OWI) offenses are called driving under the influence (DUI) offenses or driving while intoxicated (DWI) offenses in other states. Regardless of the technical name for the offense, it is a charge that can carry major penalties.
An OWI might mean jail time, court-ordered fines and a lengthy license suspension. It is common for those accused of intoxication at the wheel to plead guilty rather than to fight back against the charges that they face. People often worry about the embarrassment involved in a trial and want to avoid professional consequences for the charges if possible.
What people may not realize is that pleading guilty to an OWI can still have a negative impact on someone’s career. Why might an OWI charge affect your professional future?
A conviction reduces your appeal to employers
Having a criminal significant blemish on your personal history will hurt your chances when you apply for a new job or throw your hat in the ring for a promotion at your current job. Even if you don’t have ambitions to move into a better position, your employer learning about your criminal charges could bring your career advancement to a halt.
It is common for companies to have employment policies that prohibit criminal convictions while working for the company. You could lose your job or end up on probation because of your conviction.
A criminal record could affect your license
Whether you are a truck driver who needs to maintain a commercial license or a physician’s assistant, you may need to maintain a state license to work in your chosen profession. Licensing boards often impose ethical standards and will discipline those convicted of criminal offenses.
For those with a commercial driver’s license, even an OWI that occurs in their own vehicle will make them ineligible to maintain their commercial license and work as a transportation professional. Not being able to drive to work can also affect your career.
Criminal convictions, even for OWI offenses that did not involve car crashes, often have a chilling effect on people’s careers. The best way to limit the damage your charges cause will be to defend yourself in court rather than pleading guilty to get the process over with as quickly as possible.
Understanding the potential consequences of an OWI charge will help you make better choices about how you respond to the allegations against you.