Will DWI Show On A Background Check? Here’s Exactly What You Need To Know

Will a DWI show up on a background check? After an alcohol-related run-in with law enforcement, the results of your background check may no longer look as clean as they once did.

The data that these background checks produce often depends on why your records are getting checked and who is conducting the background check.

For example, a prospective landlord will likely conduct a standard background check with an applicant’s social security number. Any charges that have been sealed or expunged should not show up on these checks. This is not the same as a comprehensive background check involving fingerprinting, which can garner more detailed information (your entire criminal history).

There are different records where a DWI can show up:

Driving Record

ANY alcohol-related law enforcement contact is supposed to be reported to the Department of Revenue for reporting on the person’s driving record. Even if your case was never filed or was quickly dismissed, the interaction is still reported.

However, your driving record is not a public record. Under the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, generally, your driving record cannot be accessed without your consent. There are limited exceptions to the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act that allow prosecutors, law enforcement officers, insurance companies, and your attorney to access your driving record. But the public — including prospective employers — cannot access your driving record without your consent.

Arrest Record

In Missouri, all arrests are public records for 30 days after the arrest. After that, the record is closed.

But there are private companies that collect and republish arrest records — sometimes even on websites. So even though arrest records will be closed after 30 days, they often remain available to the public indefinitely.

Public Record

If a case is filed, it remains a public record while pending. The majority of state court cases and some municipal cases appear on CaseNet.

Whether a case remains a public record after disposition depends on the outcome. If the charge is dismissed or the defendant acquitted, then the case is closed and comes off the defendant’s public record. If convicted (even for a fine), it remains a public record forever.

If the outcome is a suspended imposition of sentence, the case remains a public record until the defendant successfully completes probation.

Closed Records

Closed records will not be found in public record searches. But they’re not erased.

If a person has to undergo a fingerprint background check, closed records will be found. Fingerprint background checks are required for many professional licenses.

Law enforcement and prosecutors will also have access to your closed records.

What Is The “Ban The Box” Law?

The Ban The Box Law (also called “fair chance”) is designed to help individuals with past criminal records have a FAIR opportunity for employment.

Under the Ban The Box Law, employers are prohibited from automatically disqualifying a potential candidate because of a charge found on their background check. Providing an opportunity for employers to see the true qualifications of each individual, without discrimination. Although many professions still require background checks, job seekers can be given a chance to explain themselves and their circumstances.

Advocates maintain that these individuals have already paid their dues, they’ve served their time, and they still deserve an equal opportunity. Nearly one-third of adult Americans have some sort of criminal conviction, so that could be a lot of good workers that employers miss out on.

In January 2021, a Ban The Box Ordinance came into effect for St. Louis City. The ordinance mandates the following in St. Louis City:

  • Employers cannot inquire about an applicant’s criminal history until they have otherwise been accepted for the position.
  • The same inquiries must be made to all applicants in the same selection pool.
  • Employers cannot post job advertisements that include statements specifically excluding applicants based on criminal history.
  • Employers may not require disclosure of criminal history in the initial hiring process or seek publicly available information; unless certain applicants are excluded because of local, state, or federal law or regulation.
  • Employers must demonstrate that they based their decisions on all available information, including severity, frequency, and how recent the conviction was, and that the history is relevant to the job.

Similar proposals are under consideration in other municipalities in the St. Louis area.

What Are The Consequences, If A DWI Shows Up On A Background Check?

It’s not just employers that conduct background checks. The consequences of a DWI can stem far beyond difficulties finding a job.

  • Driver’s License – If you’re convicted for DWI, your license will be revoked. Insurance rates will also likely increase when you resume driving again. If you require a commercial driver’s license (CDL) for work, it can be challenging.
  • Child Custody – A charge on your criminal record can reduce the chances of getting your desired outcome in a custody battle.
  • College Admissions – A blemish on your criminal record can hurt your approval chances for colleges and graduate schools. It can also hinder your ability to get approved for financial aid.
  • Renting or Leasing – Finding a good home to live in can be a struggle as many landlords and property owners conduct background checks.

Learn more about the collateral consequences of a criminal charge.

How Can I Make Sure My Record Is Clean Before A Background Check?

If you know someone will be conducting a background check, and your concerned your DWI might show up, you can actually check for yourself.

If the record is public, you can often find it on the Missouri DWI/DWI Records site.

You can also order a copy of your criminal record through the Missouri Automated Criminal History Site (MACHS)

Can A DWI Be Expunged Once It’s On Record?

Without intervention, a DWI charge can show up on background checks indefinitely.

As of January 2018, Missourians can apply to have their previous DWI convictions expunged from their records after 10 years — As long as there have been no additional DWI’s during the waiting period.

After an expungement, the DWI charge is erased from your record. So in the future when a background check is conducted, there will be no evidence of the DWI.

Do You Have A DWI Showing On A Background Check?

Once a DWI hits your record… It doesn’t just go away. If you need help cleaning up your record so that you can pass a background check, contact a criminal defense attorney right away.

What may seem like a minor charge can hold you back from important opportunities for years to come — Limited career opportunities, difficulties finding a place to live, and ultimately struggling to live the life that you want for yourself.

You deserve a FAIR chance. Don’t let a DWI on your record hold you back. Begin strategizing today with our experienced legal team.

Contact us right away for a free consultation.

Author Bio

Scott Rose, an experienced criminal defense lawyer and founder of Rose Legal Services, has been practicing law for over 20 years. He is dedicated to representing clients facing criminal charges and providing legal representation on various cases, including DWI, misdemeanor, and felony cases.

After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, he gained valuable experience working for a United States Senator and as a Judicial Law Clerk for the Chief Judge of a United States District Court. Throughout his legal career, W. Scott Rose has committed to providing high-quality legal representation to his clients, earning him a spot in the National Top 100 Trial Lawyers.

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