The state’s Department of Education licenses teachers and may suspend or revoke a certificate for “conduct unbecoming a teacher.” A DWI or DUI conviction may be considered conduct unbecoming, but the final decision to discipline a teacher is usually left to the local school board.
DWI arrests trigger a reporting requirement for teachers in New Jersey. A DWI or DUI arrest must be reported to the local school superintendent within fourteen days. A conviction must be reported within seven days.
Any failure by a New Jersey teacher to report a DWI or DUI arrest or conviction in a timely manner could be considered just cause for an immediate suspension or even the termination of employment.
WHAT USUALLY HAPPENS AFTER A TEACHER IS ARRESTED FOR DWI?
The local superintendent decides what action (if any) should be taken while a DWI or DUI case is pending. Upon conviction, the local Board of Education will usually meet with the teacher to decide upon further disciplinary action. Here is the text of the pertinent New Jersey statute:
“All certificate holders shall report their arrest or indictment for any crime or offense to their superintendent within 14 calendar days. The report shall include the date of arrest or indictment and charge(s) lodged against the certificate holder. Such certificate holders shall also report to their superintendents the disposition of any charges within seven calendar days of disposition.”
An arrest or a conviction for “simple” DWI with no aggravating circumstances will probably result in no disciplinary action. But when disciplinary action is taken against a teacher who is charged or convicted for DWI or DUI, that action is usually the result of aggravating circumstances linked to the DWI arrest. For example:
- When a teacher is arrested with a high blood alcohol content (BAC) level, the arrest raises concerns about that teacher’s self-control.
- A DWI or DUI arrest during school hours or shortly after school could raise concerns about the teacher possibly using alcohol or drugs and medications during school hours.
- A teacher charged with DWI who has a child as a passenger in his or her vehicle at the time of the arrest could face additional criminal charges such as endangering the welfare of a child – triggering disciplinary action by the local school board.
- A DWI or DUI arrest that involves medications – whether the drugs are “recreational” or prescribed by a doctor – will raise special concerns that will most likely result in some type of disciplinary action.
WHAT ELSE MAY HAPPEN WHEN A TEACHER IS CHARGED WITH DWI?
Teachers charged with DWI or DUI may also face pressure from parents who learn of the arrest. No parent wants someone who may use poor judgment to supervise or teach their children. Of course, parents may not know the full truth about a teacher’s DWI or DUI arrest or conviction.
The best way to avoid any collateral employment consequences is to fight your DWI or DUI case. If you are found not guilty, or if your case is dismissed, there will be no reason for your school board to take any disciplinary action against you.
LET THE HERNANDEZ LAW FIRM HELP
New Jersey DWI defense lawyer Steven W. Hernandez has been representing teachers charged with DWI since 2004. He is the author of “New Jersey DWI Defense, the Law & Practice,” the book used by DWI attorneys throughout the State of New Jersey.
If you are a teacher in New Jersey and you are arrested for DWI or DUI, call the Hernandez Law Firm immediately at 732-286-2700, or reach us by completing the contact form here on our website. You should not have to lose your job because of one isolated mistake. We can help.