California teachers are required to be credentialed. If you are convicted of misconduct outside the classroom, you may lose these credentials. As a teacher, you are required to report every criminal conviction. One common conviction that can land teachers in professional trouble is a DUI. Even though it occurred outside work, teachers with an alcohol or substance abuse problem are deemed to be a danger to children. Teachers can potentially lose their license based on the severity of the conviction and any prior record they have.
Teachers must self-report the conviction. Arrest and conviction records are publically available, and the California Commission on Teaching Credentialing will find out about what happened. Once a teacher is fingerprinted, information about the arrest will automatically be transmitted to the CTC. The failure to report the conviction can mean even more trouble. Any type of discipline from the Commission can make it much harder to get a job in the future.
If you have been charged with DUI, you need both a criminal defense and a professional license defense attorney. Being convicted of a DUI does not automatically mean that you will lose your license. In fact, you may have the ability to engage with the CTC through your professional license defense attorney. You should hire attorneys as soon as possible after an arrest.
The CTC will review the circumstances of the arrest and conviction to determine whether it implicates the teacher’s job duties. If the facts warrant it, the CTC may suspend or even revoke teaching credentials. What follows is what the CTC may consider:
- the blood alcohol content at the time of the arrest (if the teacher had greater than a .15, it would be considered more severe)
- whether there was a collision or serious bodily injury
- when the arrest or incident occurred (if it happened during school hours, it could bear on the teacher’s fitness)
- whether the conviction was a first-time offense (a second or subsequent conviction will show a pattern of conduct, and an expunged conviction will still be considered by the CTC)
- whether there were children in the car at the time of the DUI arrest
How the criminal case is resolved can impact whether the CTC takes disciplinary action. If you can plea bargain the case to a “wet reckless,” it will greatly reduce the chance of disciplinary action.
In addition, prospective teachers will need to report a past DUI conviction when they are applying for their credentials. It does not matter how long ago the conviction occurred. The CTC will consider a number of factors in deciding whether to grant the application. A prior conviction will not automatically disqualify you from becoming a teacher. However, you should consider hiring an experience teacher certification defense attorney at the application stage if there is anything in your past that can complicate your credential application. Getting legal help is an investment in your ability to perform the duties of the career for which you trained.