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Clarifying Different Types of Criminal Records: Driving with a Suspended Driver’s License

Driving with a suspended driver’s license is second of the top 10 most common criminal convictions. Should you hire or pass on an applicant with this record?  The answer is not a definitive yes or no. It truly depends on the position he or she applied for. A suspended driver’s license is a Catch 22 for those seeking employment. The results of a suspended license makes it more difficult for people to find employment and decreases their earning power, which often increases the length of time of the suspension, according to a recent report. One out of five traffic fatalities nationally involves a driver who is operating a motor vehicle while suspended or who has no license at all, according to the Transportation Research Board. Data also supports the assertion that drivers who have a suspended license are much more likely to be involved in a collision; but what does this data mean to your hiring decision? The circumstances of any conviction of any kind are always an important factor to consider when making a hiring decision.  A person can have their license suspended for a number of reasons, many of which are not related to driving offenses.  39% of drivers cited for driving with a suspended license have suspensions for non-driving related offenses, and pose no driving threat to other motorists, according to law enforcement officials.  Reasons for having driving privileges suspended include:

  • DWI convictions
  • conviction for drug offense (need not be driving related)
  • multiple moving violations (4 tickets in one year or 7 tickets in two years)
  • refusing a breath alcohol test
  • unpaid traffic tickets
  • reckless/negligent driving
  • failure to pay child support
  • issues with a driver’s license from out of state.

How do you correctly consider hiring a person with a driving with a suspended license conviction?

  1. Do not promise the job to the applicant after you get your driver’s license.  It is never a good idea to make a contingency based promise to hire.  Unknown factors in this equation include the length of time required to clear up the licensure issue, the quality of other present or future applicants for this position, and your company’s business climate/work flow at an unknown future date.
  2. Coach the applicant on what is required to complete the I-9.   Most employees have documentation from List B and List C.  List B documentation can include many things, but the most common form is a driver license or ID issued by the state.  If the applicant cannot get a driver’s license due to suspension counsel the applicant on the importance of having a valid state issued ID card.  In all 50 states, even when driving privileges have been suspended, a person can still obtain a government-issued photo identification card.
  3. As always, take a very close look at the daily activities and job duties the employee will perform for your company.

If you are the job title you are hiring for is driver, then it is a given that you will screen out applicants who have a suspended license.  If the employee will be driving a company-owned vehicle, or their own vehicle in the course of duty on a regular basis, you may want to select another applicant for these types of positions. In addition to drivers or chauffeurs, other positions to consider for exclusion would be management or sales positions within a regional territory, and/or positions that require your employee to transport other employees or customers frequently.  Other factors to consider when hiring an individual with this type of background are your company’s insurance rates and the level of liability your company will incur by hiring this individual.  If the employee is not ever driving in the course of duty, then by default there is no liability. The recidivism rates for driving with a suspended license are very high.  An estimated 75% of drivers who have their license suspended continue to operate motor vehicles without valid licenses.  This phenomenon is not indicative of a criminal that cannot be reformed, but rather illustrates the essential nature that driving a car has become in modern society.

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