Written by attorney Linda Medeiros Callahan

Teachers, Teacher Applicants and DUI Related Offenses

In general, the punishment imposed by a judge when a person is convicted for DUI or Physical Control depends on the alcohol concentration or refusal of the test, and the number of prior offenses, if any, within seven years. That punishment includes jail, fines, license suspension or revocation and ignition interlock requirements. However, there are special consequences for persons in particular vocations or professions, including those who are hold or are applicants for teaching certificates.

Good moral character and personal fitness. An applicant for a teaching certificate must prove his or her good moral character and personal fitness. In the Washington Administrative Code, that is defined as including having no conviction of ANY crime within the last ten years, including motor vehicle violations which would “materially and substantially" impair the individual’s worthiness and ability to serve as a professional within the public and private schools of the state.

Behavioral problems. An applicant must also be free of any behavioral problem which endangers the educational welfare or personal safety of students, teachers, or their colleagues within the educational setting. A behavioral problem in the context of an alcohol or drug dependency might have the tendency to present a risk to the educational welfare of personal safety of such persons in the educational setting.

Disclosure of behavioral problems. The applicant must state in an affidavit that he or she has no history of serious behavioral problems. In the alternative, he or she must provide an affidavit containing complete disclosure of the nature and status of all such problems, including the names and addresses of health practitioners who have treated the applicant within the past ten years. The applicant must execute a consent form permitting the superintendent of public instruction to contact and consult with such health practitioners and for such health practitioners to fully disclose medical information related to such behavioral problems.

Criminal convictions. In determining whether a particular criminal conviction would materially or substantially impair an applicant’s worthiness and ability, the following are relevant considerations:

· The applicant’s age and maturity at the time of the criminal act

· The degree of culpability and any mitigating factors

· The classification of the criminal act and the seriousness of the actual and potential harm to persons or property

· Criminal history and the likelihood that criminal conduct will be repeated

· Whether service as a professional educator is permissible within the terms of any probation or parole

· Proximity or remoteness in time of the criminal conviction

· Any evidence offered which would support good moral character and personal fitness

Disclosures of criminal convictions and arrests. Applicants for teaching certificates must sign an affidavit stating that they have not been convicted of any crime, or in the alternative, provide complete disclosure of all arrests and subsequent dispositions of such arrests.

Duty to provide evidence. An applicant (or person who already holds a teaching certificate) has the duty to provide evidence relative to the above considerations in order to establish good moral character and personal fitness. In addition, the superintendent has the right to gather and present additional evidence that corroborates, or negates any evidence provided by the applicant or certificate holder.

This legal guide is not intended to teach anyone the law, nor is it a substitute for the advice of a lawyer in possession of full disclosure of the facts relevant to an individual’s particular situation. This legal guide does not create an attorney-client relationship between the writer and any reader.

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