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Wisconsin DOT to alter rules and grant certain offenders jobs

We have previously written about how criminal convictions can keep individuals from gainful employment in certain fields. However, when an individual has committed a low-level offense and served his or her time, it is always a victory when lawmakers recognize that these individuals should be allowed more employment opportunities.

Thanks to one woman's case, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) will be changing its employment restrictions to allow those convicted of certain low-level drug crimes to be considered for positions within the DOT.

Until recently, the Wisconsin DOT prohibited anyone convicted of a drug crime, even if it was a one-time possession or sale of marijuana, to be employed by the department. However, one woman's case illustrated the unnecessary rigidity of this policy and has inspired its change.

The woman was convicted in 2004 for a single offense related to selling a small amount of marijuana to undercover law enforcement. She failed to disclose this conviction on her application to drive a bus for the Wisconsin DOT. When her employer discovered the omission, her bus driver's license was cancelled.

She challenged the cancellation in court, because she was not given the opportunity to tell her story at a hearing. After the case was appealed to the Wisconsin Court of Appeals, her license was reinstated and she now drives special needs children to and from public school.

The Court agreed that a one-time low-level offense conviction, combined with a significant passage of time marked by solid employment history should not bar an applicant from employment for life. As a result of the case, the Wisconsin DOT will be revising its rules regarding which offenses will and will not continue to bar certain applicants from employment with the department.

Source:, "Convicted felon beats lifetime ban from school bus," Stephen Davis and Bryan Polcyn, May 1, 2012

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