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Can a dui affect my application if i want to major in forensics science or as a police officer if this happened when i was 19?

Norwalk, CA |
Attorney answers 4


A criminal conviction can certainly affect any future job application. If the conviction occurred 3 years ago, however, you may be eligible for an expungement (also referred to as a "1203.4 Dismissal"). If granted, an expungement will change a conviction to a dismissal after you have completed all of the terms of your sentence and remained law-abiding for the entire term of your probation.

Your eligibility for the expungement depends on whether or not you are still on probation. Most DUIs carry a 3-year term of informal or "summary" probation, during which time you do not have a probation officer or anything like that, but just a court order not to violate any laws or drive with a measurable amount of alcohol in your blood.

If you have successfully completed your term of probation or if you were never sentenced to probation, and you are not currently on probation for any other crimes, you can apply for the expungement today. You can get the necessary paperwork online at the court's website or by stopping by any courthouse in the county in which you were convicted.

If you are still on probation (and you might be without even realizing it), there is another option. You may petition the court to terminate your probation early if you can show some good cause. To find "good cause" judges are looking for something like a letter from a prospective employer or a grad school saying that you would be accepted if not for your probation. If you have some reason that you need to be off of probation, judges will consider cutting you a break and letting you off early. Once you are released from probation, you can file your 1203.4 petition immediately.

1203.4 petitions are usually pretty straight-forward, but you might want to contact a local attorney for help filling one out.


In a word, YES! My brother explained the procedures for an expungement, and while everything he said was correct, he failed to mention that an expungement would be of NO VALUE in your situation. By and large, expungements are only useful for future employment in non-governmental jobs. ANY JOB that involves government (such as the police) or State licensing, looks at EVERYTHING in your past, whether or not it was expunged.

But don't dispair! In 1985 I was convicted for DUI. Ten years later, in 1995, I disclosed my DUI conviction to the State Bar and not only did I get a "determination of moral character" from the Bar, but I passed the bar and was admitted to practice law in 1996. So a DUI conviction did not stop me.

My advise? Talk to your school counselor and the police agency you intend to apply to. See what they say. It would be a horrible waste of time and money if you got the necessary educational background only to be stopped short of the finish line because of your DUI.

Good luck to you.


You don't say whether this was a misdemeanor DUI or a felony DUI. If it was a felony DUI, you maybe eligible to apply for a Certificate of Rehabilitation. California law prohibits any state licensing agency from denying you an occupational orprofessional license solely on the basis of a conviction for which a Certificate of Rehabilitation has been issued.

If it was a misdemeanor, you should still pursue expungement. While it is true, as the previous answer stated, that the expungement does not affect your licensing eligibility the way a Certificate of Rehabilitation does, your future licensing application will be stronger in the eyes of the licensing agency to which you are applying if you have done everything that is available under California law to address that prior conviction. If you don't obtain expungement, the question always hangs there: why not? Do it, and get it done; it will serve you in the long run.

A misdemeanor DUI conviction will not act as a per se disqualification in your future employment ambitions, but it may make you less competitive in the hiring process. Use the years in the run-up to your application to build a stellar record that demonstrates your rehabilitation under California's statutory standards for rehabilitation. Be sure to have at least two worthy "giving back to the community" type activities in your life. If alcohol still plays any role in your life, attend voluntary counseling or recovery program and meetings. Keep your criminal record spotless --even as to traffic matters -- and seek out some up-standing members of the community who will, when the time comes, write on your behalf and attest to your sterling character. Most importantly, when you make your license or POST-certified employment application, disclose everything required by the application fully and straight-forwardly. Do not fall back on any excuses or alibis. Take responsibility for a horrendous mistake that you have learned and changed from.

Best of luck.


A so-called "expungement" wouldn't be much help if you're applying for a job as a police officer.

It's actually a dismissal under Penal Code 1203.4, which only results in a notation on the court records that the case was dismissed after successful completion of probation. The statute specifically requires you to disclose dismissed convictions when applying for a job in law enforcement.

What's more, the DUI will stay on your DMV record for ten years from your conviction, and could be used to increase the punishment for any future DUI within that period. The conviction could make it difficult for a police department to insure you as a driver.

If you were convicted of a felony, you cannot become a law enforcement officer, period. (DUI is only a felony in California if you injure someone, or have three prior misdemeanor DUI convictions or one felony DUI conviction within the last ten years.) A certificate of rehabilition or 1203.4 dismissal will NOT change that. However, most felony DUI offenses are "wobblers" that can be reduced to a misdmeanor.

The DUI will certainly affect your chances in the job market... especially in an era where some departments are facing financial problems and laying off cops.

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