One DUI Shouldn't End a Career

A drunk-driving conviction can be a hurdle to getting a better job -- but not if you handle it on the up-and-up

Q: I'm facing a serious dilemma as I begin to explore the job market. I'm employed in a marketing position at a very reputable entertainment firm. I'm also pursuing a part-time MBA at a local university. My problem is that I have a blemish on my driving record: a DUI, which is considered a misdemeanor.

It occurred nearly two years ago, after a dinner party with some friends. My question is on filling out applications for employment, which often ask about felonies and/or misdemeanors: Do I risk being taken out of the running by admitting to this mistake?

I have attempted to compose a letter explaining what happened. But how does one say enough, without saying too little or too much? What do you suggest? When should one disclose this very personal fact? And how much weight does it carry when I'm interviewing and being considered for a position?

I have no other infractions. If anything, I have an extremely clean record and excellent references that would vouch for me as a mature and responsible person. I would greatly appreciate any advice, as I am soon going out on interviews. -- R.S., Los Angeles


First, get a little perspective. While driving drunk is a stupid thing to do, getting caught once hardly means you'll never go far in life. Heck, you could even be President some day. George W. Bush, now the leader of the free world, pleaded guilty to drunk driving in 1976, when, as a rowdy 30-year-old, he got arrested near his family's summer home in Kennebunkport, Me.

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