If you are arrested for operating under the influence (OUI) and end up getting convicted during trial or decide to take a guilty plea, the unfortunate fact is that you will be facing more than just a fine, a license suspension, and potentially even jail time for the offense. Instead, you'll have a blemish on both your driving record, as well as on your criminal history. Having a mark on your criminal background can create problems long after all is said and done in your OUI case. In fact, you could feel the impact of an OUI conviction for years after you get your license back.
The law is full of these additional penalties. A conviction for OUI, or especially for a felony-level criminal offense, can result in numerous future difficulties, even years after all of the criminal sanctions have been completed. These are called “collateral consequences.” One of the most important of these collateral consequences is the impact that a prior conviction can have on your chances of getting a new job. However, there is a political movement that aims to minimize this impact.
One Collateral Consequence of an OUI Conviction: Job Applications
One of the ways that a criminal history with an OUI conviction or guilty plea can impact you is if you have to apply for a job. Even if you're not trying to get a job that requires a clean driving record, many applications include questions regarding your criminal past. These are often asked inside a special box on the application. While some employers claim that how you respond to these questions does not impact your chances of getting hired, the reality is that people with a criminal history – and who therefore have to check the “have you ever been convicted of a crime” box – are frequently passed over for jobs that they are qualified for. As a result, people who have been convicted for a crime like drunk driving often find themselves at a disadvantage even years after a conviction.
The “Ban the Box” Movement
In recent years, there has been a political movement to “ban the box” asking about a job applicant's criminal history. The idea behind the movement is simple: Employers should be considering a job applicant's skills first, before being hit with the negative stigma that comes with a criminal history. By delaying the revelation of a criminal history until later in the job application process, or by eliminating it, altogether, people with a criminal past can more easily move on from their prior mistakes.
Currently, 23 states in the U.S. have adopted the policies for public sector jobs, and 8 of these have also adopted it for private employers, as well.
Unfortunately, Maine is not one of these states to adopt “ban the box” principles. Until it does, our state is making it more difficult for those with prior criminal convictions from moving on with their lives. It is also providing a disservice to employers in the state by allowing them to be stigmatized against some of the workers that can make their businesses great.