In Michigan, state prosecutors and law enforcement officials refer to drunk driving offenses as operating while intoxicated (OWI). An OWI charge carries a variety of consequences depending on whether there were aggravating factors at the time of your arrest and your previous criminal record.

People often get so wrapped up in reducing the criminal consequences of an OWI charge that they make mistakes that can have personal and professional consequences. For example, pleading guilty to an OWI charge to avoid court and jail could mean that you are in danger of losing your professional licensing, which could mean the end of your career.

State licensing boards typically frown on criminal convictions

Licensed professionals get held to a higher standard than other workers across the state of Michigan. Individuals ranging from hairdressers to translators must have special approval by the state in order to practice their profession.

Licensing and similar regulations help maintain a high standard for professional services across Michigan. It is common for the licensing process to include a criminal background check. Some people assume that if they already have their license at the time of their arrest that they can possibly avoid losing their license or facing disciplinary action because the board won’t find out.

However, automatic reporting can occur in some circumstances. Additionally, anyone from the officer who arrested you to a family member or friend could make a report directly to the state about your arrest, potentially inciting disciplinary action. Finally, if your job involves driving, you could lose your eligibility for a commercial license or workplace vehicle insurance coverage after an OWI conviction.

Companies can fire or not hire you based on a conviction

Even if driving isn’t part of your job, your future employers, as well as the company you currently work for, have a right to know about any criminal record you have, including OWI convictions. Background checks are common when companies want to hire or promote someone.

A conviction or guilty plea could very well mean facing hardship when it comes to maintaining or advancing your career, and employers are within their rights to discriminate when it comes to a past conviction.