Is It Legal to Be Fired Because of a DUI?


Driving under the influence of alcohol can have disastrous consequences. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, an estimated 10,839 people are expected to die in 2011 due to injuries caused by drunken drivers. However, a DUI arrest can also incur other repercussions, including termination from a job.

Federal and State Workers

Private-Sector Employees

  • Private sector employees may also face termination for DUI arrests and convictions. However, there may be more room for interpretation. Depending on state laws, the nature of the job performed and whether the arrest or conviction stems from an on-the-job incident can contribute to whether a person can be legally fired for DUI. It is important to review the individual company's policy if applicable, as well as local and state laws.

Union and Contract Employees

  • Union employees and those under specific employment contracts may have special protections granted under their bargaining agreements. In that case, there may be specific actions that must be met before firing an employee because of a DUI incident. However, this does not always guarantee that the employee cannot face termination.

Unemployment Benefits

  • Unemployment benefits may be denied if a person is fired because of a DUI. This holds especially true if the claimant was fired because of driving drunk on company time, operating a company vehicle or if the nature of the job requires a clean driving record. Different states have different rules for specific situations, so it is important to contact your local Department of Labor or an unemployment attorney for clarification.

Contact an Attorney

  • It is imperative that a person contact an attorney if they are facing a DUI or the threat of being terminated from their job because of one. This is especially critical because different states and federal agencies may have different rules and laws that need to be navigated. While the best way to avoid this situation is not to drive drunk, obtaining adequate legal representation can prove helpful in this circumstance.


  • Photo Credit glass of alcohol image by Gleb Semenjuk from truck speeding down the street image by Larry Roberg from
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