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Telling Your Employer You’ve Been Charged with an OVI

Posted On: June 9th, 2021   |   Posted by: Luftman, Heck & Associates LLP
Red haired woman telling her female boss something serious

An arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated in Columbus, Ohio, will impact your life in various ways. You will likely have to take some time off from work to fight the charges or otherwise deal with the situation. But what are you required to say? What if you must serve some jail time? Will your employer hold your job?

Depending on your situation, an OVI may or may not be important to your employer. But if you are in certain professions or require a security clearance, it may matter a lot. Likewise, if you drive for a living and have a commercial driver’s license, it’s a huge deal because your arrest results in it being suspended for 90 days, keeping you off the road for three months.

Maybe You Don’t Need to Tell Your Employer

Ohio is an “at-will” employment state. Unless a contract or law protects you, you can be fired for any reason, including an arrest or lying to your employer for no reason. If the circumstances require your disclosure, be honest, and hope for the best.

Using PTO to Deal with Your OVI

Ideally, you have enough vacation or personal time to use for court appearances or other charge-related obligations. You shouldn’t need to disclose why you’re taking the time if you’ve earned it and the time is available. You should know when you need time off well in advance so, giving your employer enough notice shouldn’t be a problem.

If you do shift work or work part-time and you can switch shifts with someone else, you may not need to disclose your arrest. Just make arrangements with another employee and tell your employer about it, so they’ll know who’ll show up.

Is Your Job Covered by a Contract?

Do you have an employment contract? These are more common for those in management, especially if you’re higher up in the organization. Does a collective bargaining agreement cover your job? If so, look at the contract and see if there’s anything that may apply to you. If you’re in a union, speak with your shop steward to see if you can get advice on how to best handle your situation.

If you’re like most people, you have neither kind of contract. You may have an employee handbook or at least written policies about taking time off. Look at them and see if there’s anything helpful. Chances are good there isn’t, but it’s worth a look.

Honesty is the Best Policy

If a contract, handbook, or company policies are of no help and you need time off but lack vacation or personal time, ask for unpaid time off. Your employer may limit it to funerals or family medical leave. If you’re getting substance abuse treatment, you may qualify for time off due to the federal Family Medical Leave Act. Ask for time off anyway if it’s needed.

If you’re asked for a reason, be honest. Arrests are public information, and lying can get you fired. Calling in sick to appear in court is risky.

Explain you were unfairly arrested for OVI, you’re fighting the charges, and you need some time off. If it’s possible, offer to make up for the lost time. If you just say you’re arrested but not say why your employer may think it’s for something more serious. Given how many people have driven while intoxicated but not arrested, your employer may be sympathetic.

You May Be Obligated To Disclose Your Arrest

You may have a job that requires disclosure of arrests, whether or not you need time off. You may have a security clearance or work in law enforcement. If that’s the case, be honest, follow the rules, and disclose what’s necessary.

Given the public nature of arrests, failing to comply with your employer’s rules makes a bad situation – your arrest – worse – non-compliance with employer policies and lying if you deny it happened. If you’re in a union, consult with your shop steward to learn your rights under the contract and the best approach to take.

When Your License is Suspended

If your job requires a CDL or driving is part of your job, your employer probably has a policy or rule requiring disclosure. They shouldn’t want you behind the wheel with a suspended license while working for them, especially if you use a company truck.

If this is your first OVI:

  • A CDL holder driving a personal vehicle will be suspended for 90 days
  • Your driver’s license will be suspended after a failed chemical test for 90 days

Charged with OVI? Call a Top Columbus DUI Lawyer.

Luftman, Heck & Associates can defend your rights after an OVI arrest and limit the harm it’s done to your life. We will try to limit the time you need to take off, so there’s less disruption to your job. Thanks to effective defenses or a favorable plea agreement, we can limit the harm to your job.

Charges may be dismissed, jail time may be avoided, or the consequences of the arrest may have little or no impact on your career. Call us at (614) 500-3836 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation today.



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