How Does a DUI Affect Your Arizona Teaching Certificate? | Teacher in Arizona
What happens when a teacher in AZ gets a DUI?
Let’s first talk about that at the school level. It’s likely in your employment contract and may address this. If you get convicted of a crime, they may be able to terminate your agreement for cause.
If it’s not in your contract, there may be provisions in your handbook or teacher’s policy book that you sign as well. So, you’ll want to search at those two places. Also, the policy book or the contract typically states that you must report any arrest or criminal offenses, if not immediately, to the school.
You want to ensure you read those carefully and know your requirements at the school level. It is your requirement to self-report at the state level with your license. If not, it would get reported by the other agencies. And so, what happens?
Having an arrest for a DUI and being charged with a DUI are two different things. You’ll want to know where you are in the process, but if you’re arrested and then charged, the State Board of Education has a DUI disciplinary matrix. It talks about what happens if you get a DUI.
Varying Levels of Arizona DUI
It goes through the different scenarios and doesn’t state what type of DUI. In the state of Arizona, there are a couple of varying levels of DUI. But the metrics do not address that. However, it addresses if it is your first DUI. They may investigate. Suppose they don’t find any substance abuse issues. In that case, you can have a negotiated settlement, and there may not be any disciplinary action for your first DUI. However, it is flagged.
And what that means is that if you were to get an additional DUI within the next three to five years. You’re looking at suspension or suspension with conditions, which might mean a required counseling or rehabilitation program. They’re also probably going to investigate to ensure you are not under the influence while teaching.
Also, is it under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs or substances? So, that’s all the things that they’re going to consider. If you have three DUIs, they’ll likely suspend you or revoke your license here in Arizona.
Search for Mitigating Circumstances in Education
Now, they also search for mitigating circumstances. As I said, is this your first DUI? Do you have any other criminal history? Have you ever been disciplined before by Arizona’s State Board of Education?
Aggravating circumstances become counted against you. Was there a child in the car? Was there any property damage? Have you had multiple DUIs, or is there a history of substance abuse? Things like that will count against you, so your disciplinary action may be slightly more.
But if it’s your first DUI, like I said, it will be flagged by the State Board of Education. And they will watch that to ensure that within the next three to five years, you do not receive any other DUIs, criminal charges, or discipline.
And now, as I said, at the school level, unfortunately, you would have to report it. Look at your employment contract or in your teacher’s handbook to see what the requirements are and what the discipline is. Are you going to be terminated or suspended? Do you have to provide proof of rehabilitation or counseling? All those things you want to take into consideration.
Other topics of interest:
- Can you be a Teacher in Arizona with a Misdemeanor?
- Arizona Teacher Fingerprint Clearance Card Suspension
Arizona Teacher DUI Discipline Matrix
Today, I’m discussing the DUI disciplinary matrix that the AZ State Board of Education put out. They break down the DUI if it’s your first offense, second offense, and how many years prior, that kind of thing; they break the DUI into specific categories.
Then they suggest discipline if there’s a settlement agreement, which means that both parties come together and decide that they agree on the facts and conclusions of the law.
If someone contests the discipline or any of the findings of facts or conclusions of law, you’ll go before the Professional Practices Act Committee (PPAC). They’ll decide the result of the facts and conclusions of Arizona’s law.
State Board of Education’s Verdict on PPAC Findings
The PPAC will bring its findings before Arizona’s board of education. Then they’ll either affirm, amend or reject the results.
So, let’s break it down.
The first one I will discuss is if this is your first DUI. You didn’t get disciplined. The suggested discipline on the matrix chart would be that it would get flagged in case of any future discipline. But you may not receive any discipline if it’s your first DUI. It’ll get flagged if you have a DUI with aggravating circumstances which they define if that’s a high BAC level. Suppose there were children in the vehicle and property damage—those types of things. Then, you could have a letter of censure to a suspension with conditions.
Conditions may be something like counseling or rehabilitation. Those are just the catchall category there for conditions.
And if you have two or three DUIs within five years, it will likely be a one-to-two-year suspension.
Suppose you have three or more DUIs within five years. In that case, you’re looking at a two-year suspension with conditions through certification expiration. If it gets contested, it can be up to three years.
So again, they break down if you’re getting one DUI or multiple DUIs, the time frame you call them, and the type of discipline.
It could be a letter of censure view report, a suspension with:
- Completion of a program
Those types of things.
You’re also going to consider mitigating circumstances within those guidelines. Some mitigating circumstances might be:
- Abstinence from alcohol or substances
- The length of your sobriety
Those would all be considered mitigating circumstances.
Teachers Who Have a DUI | Teacher DUI
In Arizona, receiving a conviction for a DUI may also mean facing harsh penalties. Teachers with a DUI conviction can endanger their occupation—losing a job you love and depend on can denote a significant change in life. It is possible, however, to maintain your teaching credentials even if you get a DUI.
Fingerprint Clearance Cards for Teachers
Arizona requires teachers to have a Fingerprint Clearance Card because they work with children and young people.
The card allows a person to work in a position of trust. If there are criminal convictions in the teacher’s background, they will get denied a card. If they already have a card when a conviction occurs, they can have their card revoked or suspended. They can lose their job.
In the Case of a DUI Conviction
Once a conviction occurs, you could lose your teaching certificate and get fired immediately. In some cases, you might be able to continue teaching, but you won’t be able to renew your contract. It will depend on the case itself.
How Does a DUI Affect Your Teaching Job?
If you get fired because of a DUI, it might not just be this current job affected. It could also be that your future employment will also be affected. It can result in a bad financial situation. On top of this, a DUI will stay on your driving record. It might mean that you get prohibited from driving.
It can make it difficult to get any job. Many schools will terminate a teacher with a DUI because it shows the person as irresponsible and unprofessional. The poor decision-making evidence gives pause for the person to be allowed to teach children.
However, no matter the consequences, any teacher getting a DUI must not withhold the information. Doing so can adversely affect current and future employment. It will undoubtedly get discovered.
A Good Cause Exception
There are ways to keep your job when charged with a DUI or having one on your record.
You can petition to show that you qualify and are a safety risk for a fingerprint clearance card. You could then prevent the card from getting revoked or suspended.
The same applies if there is an offense on your background check when requesting a fingerprint clearance card. Good Cause Exception is a petition to the Arizona Department of Safety. They have an application that is filled out and requires several documents.
Filling out the application thoroughly and entirely and attaching all the necessary documents will possibly avoid negative consequences.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
DUI convictions are severe and can affect a teacher’s life. When trying to restore your security clearance for a teaching job, contacting and hiring an attorney to help with the matter is best.
Contact us today if you want to learn more about the services Chelle Law offers. Please schedule a consultation and talk to us.
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