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Can I Get Fired for a DUI in South Carolina?

When our clients are facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges, they will often ask, “Can I get fired because of DUI?” This question makes complete sense since most people are employed and are relying on their jobs to cover their living expenses.

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer to this question since it depends on a number of factors, such as the nature of the defendant’s job, the sentencing, and the employer’s views on DUI. Like most states, South Carolina is an at-will-employment-state, which means South Carolina employers can terminate employees for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all.

Employers cannot, however, terminate employees for discriminatory reasons, such as race, religion, sex, disability, age, or nation of origin. But a DUI arrest or a DUI conviction? DUI offenders can bet that employers can legally fire them if they don’t approve.

Whose Jobs Are at Risk?

Now that we have established that employees can be fired for DUI in South Carolina, it’s important to understand that certain employees are at a higher risk of termination than others. If you work in any of the following occupations, a DUI could threaten your job:

  • Healthcare
  • Childcare
  • Real estate
  • Politics
  • Education
  • Commercial driving (e.g. delivery trucks, busses, or semi-trucks)
  • Sales (where you have to drive a lot)

If you’re a high school principle, for example, you could be fired by the school district because a DUI is just bad for the school’s and the district’s reputation. Same if you are a bus driver who drives elementary school students around. On the other hand, if you’re a receptionist at an office or a chef at a restaurant, your employer may not feel that the DUI is a big enough deal to let you go, but it all depends on your relationship with your boss and their view on DUI.

There is one more issue to consider and that is sentencing. If you’re convicted of a first DUI offense, you could be sentenced to jail for 48 hours to 30 days. So, if you were to get a longer sentence, the real questions may be, will your employer save your job for you until you’re released from jail, or will they need to give it to someone else?

Contact our Columbia, SC DUI defense firmto explore your legal defenses!