Can You Become A Police Officer With A DUI? (FAQs) | 2023

The decision to become a police officer should not be taken lightly, as it comes with a great deal of responsibility and scrutiny. 

One question that often arises is whether or not having a DUI on your record will disqualify you from becoming a police officer. 

While having a DUI can undoubtedly complicate the application process, it does not necessarily mean you are automatically disqualified. 

In this article, we will explore the factors that can impact your ability to become a police officer with a DUI and what steps you can take to improve your chances of being accepted into this career.

What is DUI?

A DUI, “driving under the influence,” occurs when someone drives a vehicle while impaired by drugs or alcohol.

If you’re caught driving with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) above the legal limit or under the influence of drugs, you may be charged with a DUI.

DUI is a severe offense resulting in significant legal and personal consequences, including fines, jail time, loss of driving privileges, and a criminal record.

In many jurisdictions, the legal limit for BAC is 0.08%, although it can be lower for drivers who are under 21 or who hold commercial driver’s licenses.

Various substances, including alcohol, prescription drugs, and illegal drugs like marijuana or cocaine can cause DUI.

Repeat DUI offenders or those who cause accidents while driving under the influence may face more severe penalties, including longer jail sentences, larger fines, and longer license suspensions.

Can you become a police officer with a DUI on your record? 

The answer is a complex one. It depends on various factors, such as the specific circumstances of your arrest and the outcome in court. 

However, having a DUI on your record can make pursuing a law enforcement career more challenging.

DUIs are taken very seriously by police forces, and agencies want to avoid being viewed in a negative light due to an officer’s DUI offense. 

Factors such as whether the DUI was drug or alcohol-related, and whether it resulted in property damage, injury, or death.

Whether it was your first DUI will also be considered when evaluating a candidate’s qualifications.

4 factors that can impact your ability to become a police officer with a DUI

Here are the factors that can impact your ability to become a police officer with a DUI:

1. The Severity of the DUI Offense 

The severity of the DUI offense can impact your ability to become a police officer, as hiring agencies may view more serious offenses negatively. 

For example, if you caused an accident or injury while driving under the influence, it may be more difficult for you to become a police officer.

2. Time Passed Since the DUI Offense

The time since the DUI offense can also impact your ability to become a police officer. 

In general, agencies may be more willing to consider candidates who have shown evidence of rehabilitation over a more extended period. 

For example, suppose you were convicted of a DUI ten years ago and have since maintained a clean record and demonstrated a commitment to public safety. In that case, you may be viewed more favorably by hiring agencies.

3. Overall Record and Qualifications 

Your overall record and qualifications can also affect your ability to become a police officer with a DUI. 

Agencies will seek candidates who demonstrate a solid commitment to public safety and a history of responsible behavior. 

This includes factors such as your criminal record, driving record, and educational and professional qualifications. 

Suppose you have a history of criminal activity or reckless behavior. This may make it more difficult for you to become a police officer, even if your DUI offense is relatively minor.

4. High competition

When applying for a job in law enforcement, it’s essential to remember that the competition can be fierce. 

Police departments often receive many applications, allowing them to be selective when choosing candidates. 

Unfortunately, having a DUI on your record can significantly hinder getting hired. 

Even if you have the same qualifications as other candidates, a DUI or other criminal record may put you at a disadvantage in the hiring process. 

This highlights the importance of maintaining a clean record and demonstrating a solid commitment to responsible behavior when considering a career in law enforcement.

5 Ways you can Improve Your Chances of Becoming a Police Officer with a DUI 

By taking these steps, you can demonstrate to potential employers that you are taking your DUI conviction seriously, are committed to overcoming any underlying issues, and are willing to work hard to become a responsible member of the law enforcement community.

1. Be honest and take responsibility: 

Acknowledge your mistake and show that you are taking it seriously. This includes being upfront about your DUI conviction during the hiring process and demonstrating genuine remorse.

2. Complete any court-ordered requirements: 

If you were required to complete any DUI-related programs, such as a substance abuse treatment program, follow through and complete all the requirements.

This demonstrates that you are committed to addressing the issue that led to the DUI.

3. Demonstrate evidence of rehabilitation: 

Participate in activities demonstrating your commitment to overcoming any underlying issues contributing to the DUI.

This could include volunteering with organizations that promote safe driving or attending counseling or therapy.

4. Show a commitment to public safety: 

Police departments want to hire individuals passionate about keeping their communities safe.

Show your commitment to public safety by volunteering with organizations or participating in other community safety initiatives.

5. Gain additional education or work experience: 

Earning a degree in criminal justice or gaining relevant work experience, such as working as a security officer, can demonstrate your commitment to a career in law enforcement.

Frequently Asked Questions on ‘Can You Become A Police Officer With A DUI’

Can taking antidepressants prevent you from becoming a police officer?

If you take antidepressants, you may wonder if this will prevent you from pursuing a career in law enforcement. The answer is that it depends on the agency’s policies and circumstances.

Can you become a police officer with a misdemeanor on your record?

A misdemeanor on your record does not automatically disqualify you from becoming a police officer. However, it will depend on the offense’s specific nature and the agency’s policies you’re applying.

Can you become a police officer if you are not a citizen?

You must be a US citizen to become a police officer. However, some agencies may consider applicants who are lawful permanent residents or have other forms of legal status. The specific requirements will vary by agency, so it’s essential to research their guidelines and policies.

What are the consequences for a police officer who receives a DUI?

Police officers are held to high standards of conduct, and a DUI offense can severely affect their careers. Depending on the circumstances, an officer may face disciplinary action, suspension, or termination and may even lose their license to work as a law enforcement officers. Additionally, the agency’s reputation may be negatively impacted, and public trust in law enforcement may be diminished.


Whether you can become a police officer with a DUI on your record is not a simple answer. 

It’s essential to do your research and speak with a law enforcement recruiter or representative in your area to understand the guidelines and requirements. 

Suppose you’re passionate about serving your community and are committed to demonstrating responsible behavior. There may be ways to overcome this obstacle and pursue your dream of becoming a policeman. 

So, if you have a DUI on your record and are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, take action today and begin exploring your options.

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Righteous Godwin
Righteous Godwin

Righteous Godwin, a graduate of Mass Communication, is a content and creative writer. Her passion for writing compels her to give her all to every project she undertakes.

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