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Will a DUI affect my moral character assessment in the California bar exam?

On Behalf of | Mar 20, 2020 | Moral Character |

After years of studying and preparation, the California bar exam is the last stop in your journey to becoming a lawyer. You’ve worked hard for this – and wouldn’t want a mistake from your past threatening your future.

As part of the exam, a committee of bar examiners will determine if you’re morally fit to practice law. Over a period of at least six months, examiners will thoroughly inspect your background – including any criminal convictions or signifiers that you may abuse alcohol.

If you were convicted of driving under the influence (DUI), this will most likely catch the eye of an examiner. It could indicate that you do not follow the law – or that you have an underlying alcohol problem.

However, this conviction does not automatically disqualify you from receiving your license. In determining next steps, the committee will take several factors into consideration:

  • How old you were when you received the DUI
  • How long it has been since then
  • Whether the crime was isolated or part of a pattern
  • Whether you successfully completed probation or parole
  • Any special circumstances surrounding the conviction
  • Whether you completed a rehab program for alcohol abuse

It is vital that you do not try to hide your conviction, but rather show that you have successfully rehabilitated yourself. Be open about your mistakes and the steps you have taken to combat them.

At the end of the day, the committee is simply trying to protect you and your future clients. You can always reach out to them if you have any questions during the process. And if you’re feeling nervous about the potential outcome, you can always consult a lawyer who focuses on state bar defense.


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