How much should I disclose about an old DUI (more than twenty years) to a prospective employer?

QUESTION: How much should I disclose about an old DUI (more than twenty years) to a prospective employer?

Kiersten Troutman, Second Glance Résumés

For any offense, don’t try to talk your way out of it by blaming someone or something else. Instead, if someone inquires about it, tell them what you’ve learned from it since then, especially if it was a long time ago. Truth is gold in interviews. If there are no other offenses since then, that speaks volumes as well.

Ruth Sternberg, Confident Career Search

Honesty is always best when it comes to background, because they will run a check. DUIs may or may not fall off your record after a certain period. You can address it proactively by saying you have DUI from more than 20 years ago. You have since addressed the issues surrounding it, and you have had a clean record ever since. You needn’t go into details.

Brenda Bernstein, The Essay Expert LLC

Honesty is always the best policy when it comes to past legal infractions. If you had one DUI 20+ years ago and none since, an employer will probably not be concerned, especially if it happened when you were young and less responsible. However, if you don’t disclose the DUI and it comes up in their background check, they will be very concerned about your integrity.

Edward Lawrence, Getstarted LLC

If asked on a job application or in an interview, you must tell the truth. If they ask for any details, continue telling the truth—It was 20 years ago. And I hope you can continue telling the truth: I was much younger; I made a bad mistake. I learned my lesson. I never did it again.

Lisa Rangel, Chameleon Resumes

It depends. Know the laws that pertain to DUIs in your state to help you determine if it will need to be disclosed. Consult an attorney, if unclear. Generally speaking, if it is not asked, do not offer the details. If a background check is required, you may need to disclose that it will come up since HR professionals prefer proactive transparency versus reactive justification.

Mary Jo King, Alliance Résumé & Writing Service

If the offense was a felony and you are asked to “check the box” on the application, you should disclose the conviction and date. (Unlike your resume, the application is a legal document.) If the offense was a misdemeanor, do not disclose it until you are negotiating a job offer and facing a background check. Keep facts to a minimum and present it as a learning experience that was never repeated.

Grant Cooper, Strategic Resumes & Business Plans

Guidelines for honesty and candor in employment applications: 1) Never directly lie on an application, 2) check state laws to see if they contain relevant provisions that are helpful, 3) never volunteer adverse information that is not specifically requested, and 4) assess the relevancy of information you propose to hide. As just one example, driving records may not be relevant to remote positions.

Ask a Question

Ask us your question and it may be selected as the topic of our next blog post, with answers compiled from the advice of NRWA members.

12 + 6 =

Work with the Best

Find a Resume Expert

If you’re looking for more information on how to write a great resume – or get an expert to help you with yours – you’ve come to the right place! This site was created by the National Resume Writers’ Association (NRWA), a US-based non-profit association with members from around the world who are dedicated to learning about and providing expertise in resume writing to all job seekers.

The National Résumé Writers’ Association

9 Newport Drive #200, Forest Hill, MD 21050

Thanks for checking out! For more on our association and certification, see