Can You Be a Bartender with a DUI? Understand its Impact on Your Career

Can You Be a Bartender with a DUI? Understand its Impact on Your Career

A common question for those contemplating bartending as a profession is whether you can be a bartender with a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while impaired) conviction. The answer is maybe—getting a job as a bartender in the United States with a DUI conviction can be a bit tricky, and the rules vary based on where you’re located (and on the individual establishment’s preferences). 

Most states require aspiring bartenders to get special licenses and certifications for serving alcohol, though some—like Florida, Texas, and Nebraska—don’t have specific mandates on getting alcohol certified. Proper server training is required in most states, and you do have to be of a certain age to serve and bartend alcoholic beverages (ages vary by state).

Though having a DUI on your record could be a cause for concern for some employers, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be hired as a bartender. However, it’s critical to check on individual state laws in terms of whether persons with a DUI can bartend. 

So can you be a bartender with a DUI conviction or DWI case? It really depends. Let’s dive into this with a little more detail and look at bartending with a DUI and other related questions.

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1. What is a DUI, and is it the same as a DWI?

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A DUI refers to driving under the influence of alcohol (above the legal limit) or any other drugs (prescription or illegal), while a DWI means driving while intoxicated or impaired. 

To be certain, check with individual state laws on the precise meanings of DUIs and DWIs.

2. Is a DUI/DWI a misdemeanor or a felony?


Let’s clarify this. In all states except New York, New Jersey, and Wisconsin, the first time an intoxicated person gets into a DUI accident, it’s considered a misdemeanor, which is punishable by fines, no driving privileges, and possible jail time. Drunk driving resulting in repeat DUIs (especially after the second offense) are considered to be felonies in most states.    

While DUI laws vary from state to state, there are certain circumstances that can turn any DUI into a felony, such as if the drunk driver has prior DUI convictions, if someone was injured or killed in the car accident, and if the driver was driving with a suspended license.  

For any doubts or questions on the matter, it’s best to consult the experts, such as a DUI or DWI attorney.

3. Can I be a bartender with a DUI?

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You might be able to. It all depends on the laws of your state and your conviction case. 

LBS says that “you can [be a bartender with a DUI or other alcohol-related charge], unless there are requirements attached to your probation order that prohibit you from being in or around drinking establishments.”

“You can [be a bartender with a DUI or other alcohol-related charge], unless there are requirements attached to your probation order that prohibit you from being in or around drinking establishments.” -Local Bartending School

Beyond details pertaining to your DUI charge, it’s also important to check with your state’s local laws, as some states don’t allow persons with felony charges to work as bartenders. 

Here are some resources you can check out for further information on whether you can be bartender with a DUI:

4. Can I apply for a job as a bartender with a DUI on my record?

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Having a DUI case on your record should not stop you from becoming certified as a bartender, though licensing bodies and future employers may have differing opinions on the matter. 

“Keep in mind, these charges will not prohibit you from obtaining certification, but such charges could stifle your chances of landing a job,” LBS explains, advising job-hunting bartenders to “be ready to explain the charges in an interview. If you have changed your life since then, make sure you not only explain that to the interviewer, but [also] why.”

“Be ready to explain the [DUI] charges in an interview. If you have changed your life since then, make sure you not only explain that to the interviewer, but [also] why.” -Local Bartending School

It’s good advice. Here’s more—don’t lie about any past convictions. Being honest during the application process is a big deal, and showing that you've made efforts to turn things around since the drunk driving accident or incident can also help employers view you in a more positive light.

It’s also important to remember that establishments will approach the matter differently. Certain places, especially those where staff have to drive or handle a lot of cash, might have tougher rules. They might check how serious the criminal charge was, when it happened, the time limit, and if you've done anything to make up for it since. 

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5. If I am already a bartender and I get a DUI, will I get fired from my job?

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More than likely, the answer is likely a “yes”. You can say goodbye to your bartending job if you get a DUI. It makes sense that as a matter of principle, most bar owners wouldn’t be too happy if their bartenders got DUIs. 

Also, most establishments screen their incoming and current bartenders carefully so that they don’t risk losing their liquor licenses, the requirements for which vary according to state. Your employers may choose to terminate your employment if you get charged with a DUI.

Something else to consider is that as a condition of probation, judges normally do not allow DUI defendants near places that serve alcohol, so speaking to your employer (and possibly finding other employment) is likely the best course of action to take. It all depends on conditions set by the court, state laws, and your employer.


6. Will I lose my license as a bartender if I get a DUI?

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Another important question that’s often asked is whether existing bartenders can lose their bartending licenses if they get a DUI charge. 

It’s possible, but it depends on the individual state’s laws on alcohol and licensing. 

To get detailed legal advice on whether your bartending license is at stake if you get a DUI charge (and how to proceed with your case), you might want to consult with a DUI defense attorney (if you’re short on cash, some offer free consultations for the initial meeting). 

You can also contact the alcohol control boards of different states for complete information on alcohol laws, licensing laws, dram shop laws, and all questions relating to whether you can be a bartender with a DUI.

We’ve put them together for you here:


Alabama Alcoholic Beverage Control Board 


Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Control


Alcohol & Marijuana Control Office


Montana Liquor License Bureau


Arizona Department of Liquor Licenses and Control


Nebraska Liquor Control Commission


Alcohol Beverage Control


Nevada Department of Taxation


California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control

New Hampshire

New Hampshire State Liquor Commission


Colorado Department of Revenue-Liquor Enforcement Division

New Jersey

New Jersey Department of Law and Public Safety Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control


Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection

New Mexico

New Mexico Regulation & Licensing Department


Delaware Division of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement

New York

New York State Liquor Authority Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control

District of Columbia

Alcoholic Beverage Regulation Administration

North Carolina

North Carolina Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission


Division of Alcoholic Beverages & Tobacco

North Dakota

North Dakota Office of the State Tax Commissioner


Georgia Department of Revenue Alcohol & Tobacco Tax Division


Ohio Department of Commerce

Division Of Liquor Control



Liquor Commission City and County of Honolulu


Department of Liquor Control County of Hawaii


Department of Liquor Control County of Kauai


Department of Liquor Control


Alcoholic Beverage Law Enforcement Commission (ABLE)


Idaho State Liquor Dispensary 

Alcohol Beverage Control Bureau  


Oregon Liquor Control Commission


Illinois Liquor Control Commission


Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board


Alcohol and Tobacco Commission 

Rhode Island

Division of Commercial Licensing and Regulation Liquor Enforcement and Compliance

Rhode Island Agencies List


Iowa Alcoholic Beverages Division

South Carolina

South Carolina Department of Revenue & Taxation


Kansas Department of Revenue Alcohol Beverage Control

South Dakota

South Dakota Department of Revenue

Division of Special Taxes


Kentucky Alcoholic Beverage Control Department


Tennessee Alcoholic Beverage Commission


Louisiana Department of Revenue Alcohol and Tobacco Control Office


Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission


Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations


Utah Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control


Maryland Field Enforcement Division

Montgomery County Alcohol Beverage Services

Worcester County Liquor Control Board


Vermont Department of Liquor and Lottery


Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission


Virginia Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority


Michigan Liquor Control Commission


Washington Department of Revenue

Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board


Minnesota Department of Public Safety Alcohol and Gambling Enforcement Division

West Virginia

West Virginia Alcohol Beverage Control Commission Enforcement & Licensing Division


Alcoholic Beverage Control Office


Wisconsin Alcohol & Tobacco Enforcement

Department of Revenue


Wyoming Liquor Commission


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