An impaired-driving arrest isn’t just embarrassing. It is potentially the start of a very difficult time in your life. Going to court to defend yourself, dealing with the loss of your license and even coping with a criminal record are all common consequences for an impaired driving arrest.

For those with good jobs, pleading guilty might seem like the surest solution to this issue. A guilty plea will mean avoiding protracted court proceedings that could require an extended absence from work. Those facing driving under the influence (DUI) charges might assume that if they don’t have to take time off of work for their defense, an impaired driving charge won’t affect their career.

Unfortunately, some people will find out the hard way that pleading guilty to an offense can have a damaging effect on their career later in life. 

If you drive on the job or seek a promotion, your employer will find out

Especially if your employer has a policy about not hiring those with criminal convictions on their record, you might think that pleading guilty could speed things up and make it easier for you to hide your conviction from your employer. Unfortunately, the chances are good that they will eventually find out about your charges even if you avoid causing any office gossip about your recent brush with the criminal justice system.

If you drive any kind of company vehicle, whether to make deliveries or sales calls, when your employer goes to renew their policy, the insurance company will likely review the driving records for everyone covered by the policy. They may refuse to cover you or drastically increase your employer’s rates because of your conviction.

Even if you don’t drive for your job, if you go after a big promotion or ask for a raise, the company may do a background check as part of the vetting process. Obviously, you can presume that every new company that you apply to will likely also look at your criminal history.

A guilty plea doesn’t let you avoid all the consequences

Despite what people often assume about pleading guilty, it is still possible for a judge to sentence them to significant penalties after a guilty plea. Drivers who plead guilty to a DUI can expect at the minimum to face fines and the suspension of their license.

Losing your license can have an immediate, negative impact on your job. Even if you don’t drive for work, you probably have to drive to work. When you have to rely on other people or public transportation, your attendance record may suddenly take a major hit as you have to call in late or even miss work because of difficulty getting a ride.

Instead of pleading guilty and risking a host of consequences, defending yourself from a pending DUI is often the better approach for a professional hoping to minimize the impact of the charges on their career.