So as the title says, I was recently given a job offer from a tech giant in Texas.

The job is software development.

I was asked to fill out an application and fill out the background investigation (BI) form.

About 3 years ago, I got charged with a DUI (Driving under the influence) after getting drunk at a friend's party. I regret it happening, but I am also grateful that no one got hurt (I got a DUI while my car was parked). This was a single incident, and so is considered a misdemeanor.

I am concerned that this might be a show-stopper for this firm or position.

I should add, that at no point was I asked about any arrests/convictions etc, on any form. However I do know that it is going to show up in their BI report that they will be getting back.

  • Should I be worried about getting my offer rescinded off the bat, when the results of my BI come back? Just what are the stats of people getting offers rescinded when tech-employers find out about past (single) DUIs?
    • Should I call their recruiter and/or HR now, and just point blank tell them, 3 days after the start of my BI, that I have that DUI?

I tried googling around for people with DUIs in the tech industry, but I cannot seem to find anything about it affecting jobs, outside of driving jobs, etc.

  • How do you know this information will come up in a background check??
    – Brandin
    Aug 14, 2014 at 5:42
  • As an aside, how do you get a DUI in a parked car? Is sitting in the driver's seat enough to show intent to drive?
    – David K
    Aug 14, 2014 at 12:40
  • @Brandin The background people told me. :-) Actually the firm is HireRight, to whom background checks are outsourced to. Aug 14, 2014 at 13:00
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    @DavidK Yes. You can even get a DUI for sleeping in the back of your car, inebriated, with the keys on your person. If you are inebriated, stay 10 meters away from any motor vehicle. Aug 14, 2014 at 13:02
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    Does the job involve operating a motor vehicle with other employees in it? Visits to clients, etc.
    – jmac
    Aug 15, 2014 at 2:37

4 Answers 4


You are honest, straightforward and you have nothing to hide. So come across as honest, straightforward and having nothing to hide. You made a mistake three years ago but you clearly learned from it and I doubt that you have repeated it, given how much you worry about it. I especially appreciate the fact that you have taken ownership of your mistake, and you can say that the best guarantee that you won't repeat your mistake is your willingness to admit it time and again.

In terms of integrity, you have a lot going for you. Give yourself a chance and you'll understand why people will give you a chance :) It's good to take ownership of your mistake, but you also need to learn to put it behind you - yes, it is possible to admit to having done something wrong in a way that gets you to win the unstinted praise, trust and respect of those around you :)

  • Thank you Vietnhi. Do you believe that I should approach the HR/recruiter now, 3 days after the start of the BI, and tell them out of no where that "by the way..." I have this DUI? Or do you think I should wait and not make a 'big deal' about it in their eyes at this point since they will know soon anyway? Thanks. Aug 14, 2014 at 3:53
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    I'd say be forward and disclose the DUI on your own. Say that you learned from this one shot across the bow and you have been scrupulous about driving clean and sober every day since. And that although it's been three years since you made that mistake, you are as mortified about it today as when you were caught making it three years ago. After that, snore the night away, because you unloaded the one thing that weighed on your mind :) Aug 14, 2014 at 4:03
  • Great points all around... I am leaning in this direction too. (PS I cannot upvote you as I do not have enough reputation). Aug 14, 2014 at 4:08
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    @RualStorge Why do you consider being charged with a DUI a "mistake"? Also, why should this be relevant to the job position or your decision to hire him. You may mean well but your comment sounds a bit like you're speaking down like you're someone who never makes mistakes. If I knew this maybe I wouldn't want to work for you.
    – Brandin
    Aug 16, 2014 at 10:44
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    @VietnhiPhuvan The point is being charged is not necessarily a mistake. I've also been accused of substance abuse on the road. The officer believed I may have been under the influence. I made no mistake. On the other hand, thinking that I have to tell such a story to an employer and try to explain how this was a "mistake" on my part would be totally wrong. Better not to work for such an employer, work instead for those who actually want your work.
    – Brandin
    Aug 16, 2014 at 11:07

No, it's not an automatic showstopper, and no, you don't need to go point it out to them before the background check shows it. Be honest with self-reporting and don't hide anything, but there's no additional merit in going and pushing it on them either.

My experience with most tech firms is that in general, they don't check and they don't care. They are doing a background check because their insurance or some other meddling agency wants them to. Unless the job is specifically related to the offense (security clearance, driving, working with kids, financial stuff) or it's quite severe, they are likely to overlook it (if they even read the report). I wouldn't fret and I certainly wouldn't bring it up proactively with them unless asked (in person or on a form) - that forces them to confront something they may have been wanting to just let slip downstream. Just be forthcoming if they mention it.

True story - my first gig out of school was with a very large corporation's IT department. One day one of the sysadmins didn't show up to work. A couple days later the FBI showed up; he had been convicted of a DUI and was supposed to voluntarily surrender himself that week but had instead bought a bunch of camping gear, skedaddled, and abandoned his car out in the mountains somewhere. No one knew, no one wanted to know. Managers, HR... What value did it have to the company to know any of that? None. He was just like any other guy who one day quits without notice.

Similarly, I was working at a small publishing company starting up some Internet goodness. The company had gotten larger and was getting insurance. The health insurance provider mandated drug testing. Everyone up to the CEO knew that half the production department smoked the wacky tobaccy. "So testing is mandatory. But you're still going to cover them, right? And we don't plan to fire them," clarified our CEO. "That's fine," said the insurance company, "We just need stats for risk purposes." So we added drug testing, and the insurance company could get stats that "20% of the people in publishing companies have reefer madness," and that was it.

Don't confuse legalistic requirements with anyone giving a crap.

Similarly, you may well come across companies that will blacklist based on any criminal conviction etc. Well, you can't do anything about that, so there's no sense in worrying about it. Unless it's a 6 person company "being forthcoming so they see you're honest and will cut you a break" isn't going to be a thing; people love following whatever HR process exists to the letter. In Texas you can't get a conviction expunged over time so just fill out the background check forms, take the jobs from those who don't care.

  • This approach is not ethical. Honesty is always the best policy. Justifying a lie-of-omission, a very important omission, is very problematic. I strongly suggest you NOT take this advice.
    – Mike Van
    Aug 14, 2014 at 15:05
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    No one said lying or omitting. Fill out the form(s) honestly. Going to every HR department and proactively telling them you're a convict is not useful, necessary, or required. Do you tell everyone you meet how much you touch yourself? Why not, isn't that a "lie of omission?"
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 14, 2014 at 15:07
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    Consider a systems administration job that requires driving gear to a location for an install. In this case, employing a person who recently had a DUI conviction could result in higher insurance rates, and in extreme cases the loss of a contract. There is a reason those questions are asked and should be answered properly.
    – Mike Van
    Aug 14, 2014 at 15:10
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    I said answer them properly. Try reading harder. The question says "I'm doing a background check." I'm saying "fine, but you don't need to go to them and 'get in front of it' by telling them you're convicted." Just to do it and not worry, it's likely they won't care and if they do you can't do anything about it anyway.
    – mxyzplk
    Aug 14, 2014 at 15:15
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    @MikeVan how is it a "lie of omission" when he has never even been asked about anything related to this topic? This is not a situation where he is being asked a question and considering not mentioning his DUI in the hopes they never find out. This is a situation when he is considering blurting out, with no context or encouragement, "I got arrested once!!!!" Aug 16, 2014 at 23:48

I think that, as they are going to find it out either way, then the best thing you can do is tell the HR people right away - it can even be beneficial for your application, as it shows a big compromise and trust in your future employer. Also, you can take advantage of the whole situation and make it clear to them that you have learned from that mistake, and that now you are more mature and responsible because of it. You have learned something since that dark episode in your life, don't you? I bet you did :)

To sumarise, I think that telling your future employer before they get the report can only result in a better outcome than not telling them at all.

  • Jim, yes, I find myself also leaning towards just telling the recruiter/HR at some point, since they will find out anyway. Part of me still hesitates however. Do you think that it can make a huge difference either way though? Thank you. Aug 14, 2014 at 3:48
  • Personally, I have learned to always tell the truth - weird and dangerous things occur when lying, even small white lies can have disastrous consequences. In this case, is not lying per se, but if you do not tell them then they can think "why he didn't want to tell us? He was not confident enough to do it? Does he tend to hide information?". I know the DUI is kind of a personal problem, but here you are trying to build trust, so they will be as open as you are willing to open yourself.
    – jimm-cl
    Aug 14, 2014 at 3:58
  • Right. Agreed. (PS I cannot upvote you as I do not have enough reputation). Aug 14, 2014 at 4:08
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    If you tell them and they rescind the offer right away, then you will know sooner and can deal with it sooner. They will find out either way. If you don't tell them it looks worse to the HR people and they may consider if you are trustworthy. So I thinkyour chances of losing the job are higher if you don't tell than if you do. Remember there is a 100% chance they will find this out. All you can do to influence the decision at this point is to disclose upfront. It still may not work, but it is the only action you can take which could make this look better.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:13
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    Nothing is considered non-hirable in all firms. Some companies are more concerned than others. Some of this depends on what they do and what regualtory environment they are in. A firm that supports the miltary has different needs than a wall street firm whcih has different needs than a small startup. All have developers but what they are looking for in a background check could be very different.
    – HLGEM
    Aug 14, 2014 at 13:59

If asked specifically, don't lie. If they don't ask, don't volunteer the information.

If there was a conviction, that is a matter of public record. They don't need to ask your permission to check public records.

They do need your written permission to perform a background check including checking your references.

You may have been asked if you have a valid drivers license. If you do, that may be sufficient for the job.

A single DUI will not disqualify a person from getting jobs as an over the road trucker to my personal knowledge; it shouldn't be a problem for a software developer.

Just don lie and don't spin it if you are directly asked.

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