What Happens When a Teacher is Charged With a DWI?
Can your teaching license be suspended as a result of a DWI?
The short answer to this question is ‘yes,’ but termination and loss of a license is not always the outcome. Read on to learn some ways that your DWI offense can affect your teaching career and what you can do to lessen the impact.
DWIs and Different Types of Teachers
Whether or not license suspension is a likely outcome for teachers convicted of Baton Rouge DWIs is dependent on multiple factors. The first is whether you’re a new, experienced, or tenured teacher.
If you have a teaching license but are not yet employed as an educator, you are unlikely to pass a background check post-conviction. This can greatly lower your chances of employment by any school district (and lead to your license being revoked immediately). Fighting a conviction is more important than ever in these cases.
Experienced teachers- especially tenured ones- are far less likely to lose their license. You may be placed on suspension or even terminated, but you likely will be able to keep your license. Finding a new teaching job may be a challenge, but it still will be possible.
If you’re an experienced teacher, your case will be different if you work at a private school vs a public school. Public schools in Louisiana have much more clear-cut regulations in that you can’t fire a teacher without specific provable cause.
Many private schools, on the other hand, reserve the right to terminate employment as they see fit. At-will employment makes legal cases much more difficult to win.
Possible Outcomes of DWIs for Teachers
It’s important to keep in mind that a DWI charge is not a conviction. Being arrested and summoned to court doesn’t mean that the court has found you guilty of the case. To be convicted, the prosecutor must prove to the jury that your DWI charge was true beyond reasonable doubt.
If you were charged with a DWI but have not been convicted, the crime will not go on your record until the conviction takes place. The school district should not dismiss you for a charge unless it is in the paperwork that you signed prior to being hired. If you avoid a conviction and signed no such documents, you have grounds for a case.
However, let’s say that you have been convicted of a DWI. There are still many possible outcomes for what will happen to your teaching job. The main possibilities from worst to best include:
- Your teaching license/certificate being revoked
- The school district calling for and acting on your immediate dismissal
- The school district deciding to terminate your employment after the current term
- The school district placing you on suspension for a limited period of time
- No action being taken- you continue to teach as though nothing happened
Even after a conviction, you can hire an attorney to represent you before the school district. You may have grounds for an unjust termination lawsuit if you are fired and signed nothing stating that you would be terminated if you got a DWI. A consultation with an attorney can help you discover whether your claim is legitimate.
When Will Teachers More Commonly Lose Their Teaching License?
It is more common that teachers will be terminated or lose their license in some scenarios over others. If anyone was injured as a result of the DWI claim, for example, you are much more likely to be terminated than if there were no long-term impacts for others on the road.
This is especially true since injuring others due to a DWI generally carries other charges in addition to the DWI (such as Aggravated DWI charges). You may be charged with a felony rather than a misdemeanor. Even school districts who overlook misdemeanors likely will not let a felony slide.
If this is not your first DWI conviction, it is also likely that you will lose your job and license. Extremely high BACs may also cause this outcome. DWIs are not one-size-fits-all and vary in severity. A lawyer can help you determine how strong your specific case is.
You also will almost certainly lose your license if extended jail time accompanies your conviction.
School Districts and Regional Variation
The policies of your school district also impact the penalties that you will face after a DWI conviction. You likely signed many papers prior to your employment detailing what would happen in the event that you were charged with either a misdemeanor or a felony.
An attorney can help you to look for loopholes in these documents. However, if your employer can find papers that have your signature on them detailing that your license will be lost in the event of a conviction, it is far less likely that you will win the case.
If you do not believe that you signed any such documents, you will need to look into the regional policies for public schools in your area (assuming that you are a public school teacher). Different parts of Louisiana have different norms when it comes to teachers and DWIs, so it’s important to look into your specific case.
Get Legal Assistance Today
Now that you know how a DWI conviction can impact your teaching license, it’s time to enlist a legal professional to help you minimize negative outcomes.
Contact us with any lingering questions that you have and to request a consultation. As experienced defense attorneys in Louisiana, we are committed to helping you make an ironclad case to help you keep your teaching license and continue your career as an educator.