Don't assume that just because you have a drinking and driving related conviction in your past that you can't pursue a career in law enforcement. In fact, depending on the circumstances, that experience can give you meaningful insight for educating people about drinking and driving. The level of screening for police applicants differs by community, agency and state, but there are still certain steps you should take before you submit an application.
Your Criminal Record
Obtain a copy of your criminal record by contacting the appropriate state-level police or criminal justice department clearinghouse, such as the Florida Department of Law Enforcement or the New York Division of Criminal Justice Services. The instructions may also be listed on the appropriate department's Web site. Expect to provide a written and signed request, proof of identification and funds for copies and/or service charges.
Take steps to have the conviction expunged, if in fact the DUI conviction is on the criminal record documents you've received. Do this by contacting the court where you were convicted. Again, this may require a written request and a fee. It could also involve another court proceeding and lawyer fees. According to FindLaw, the expungement process and regulations vary by county and state.
Understand the level of your conviction, and answer the questions on the police department application honestly. For example, if you were charged with misdemeanor-level driving while intoxicated in New York State but pleaded to driving while ability impaired, which is a violation, you can answer 'No' when asked if you were ever convicted of a misdemeanor or felony. But if you are asked if you were ever charged with a misdemeanor, you must answer yes. According to FindLaw, "An expunged arrest or conviction is not necessarily completely erased, in the literal sense of the word. An expungement will ordinarily be an accessible part of a person's criminal record, viewable by certain government agencies, including law enforcement and the criminal courts."
If your DUI conviction required an education program about the dangers of drinking and driving, state this if you are asked to elaborate on any convictions. Showing that you experienced the offender program firsthand could counter some of the stigma that goes with a conviction.
- If your DUI conviction required an education program about the dangers of drinking and driving, state this if you are asked to elaborate on any convictions. Showing that you experienced the offender program firsthand could counter some of the stigma that goes with a conviction.
Aaron Gifford is based in New York. He has been on staff at the "Syracuse Post-Standard," the "Watertown Daily Times" and the "Oneida Daily Dispatch." He's also written for "Long Island Newsday," "Empire State Report" magazine and "In Good Health." He has been writing professionally since 1995. Gifford holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from the University at Buffalo.