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Drunk Driving Arrest for Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

Nurses are integral to healthcare in California. Nurses are sometimes held to a higher standard than other professions. Nurses may be required to report criminal convictions and it could impact their ability to keep their job or nursing license. Make sure you understand your legal rights after a DUI in California. Talk to an experienced East Bay DUI defense attorney for help.

Defending Against Drunk Driving Charges for California Nurses

Registered nurses and nurse practitioners are some of the most important healthcare providers. In recent years, nurses have been expected to do more with fewer resources. Nursing can be stressful and some nurses want to have a drink to relax after a stressful workday. Having one drink too many and driving home can lead to drunk driving charges. 

A drunk driving arrest is serious for any California driver but the consequences can be greater for a nurse. The penalties for driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol can include: 

A DUI on your record can also increase insurance premiums and could impact your job. Nurses who are arrested for a DUI in the East Bay should talk to an experienced DUI defense attorney for legal advice. An attorney can tell you about your legal rights, the DUI process, help you keep your license, and fight to keep a DUI off your criminal record. 

Do Nurses Have to Report a Drunk Driving Arrest in California?

A nurse may not need to report a drunk driving arrest if it does not end in a conviction. According to the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN), you only need to report an arrest if you were convicted. This includes a conviction for any charge that is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of a registered nurse. It is considered a conviction if: 

  • You are found guilty
  • Plead guilty
  • Enter a no contents (nolo contendere) plea

Under California Penal Code section 1203.4, you are still required to report a criminal conviction even if the conviction was expunged. If you are asked a question or applying for state licensure, you may still be required to disclose a conviction that was expunged, including drunk driving convictions.

Even if you don't report a DUI to the Board of Registered Nursing, the criminal court system will generally report the conviction to the BRN. Failure to report a conviction could be more harmful than reporting a DUI. If you're not sure whether you're required to report a DUI, talk to your East Bay DUI defense attorney. 

Nursing License Discipline and Penalties

The Board of Registered Nursing can take disciplinary actions against an RN or nursing applicant. Disciplinary action can include by the Board of Registered Nursing can include: 

  • Public reprimand
  • Probation
  • Suspension
  • Voluntary surrender of your license
  • Revoked or surrendered license

Discipline is determined based on several factors, including: 

  • Severity and recency of offense
  • Rehabilitation evidence
  • Current ability to practice safely
  • Mitigating factors
  • Past disciplinary history

For example, factors that could negatively impact a disciplinary decision after a DUI could include: 

If your DUI involves any aggravating factors, including a high BAC, illegal narcotics, or multiple DUIs, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. More serious drunk driving charges can mean increased jail time, longer license suspension, and loss of your nursing license. 

What Is Satisfactory Rehabilitation?

The Board of Nursing can consider whether the registered nursing license applicant has made a showing of satisfactory rehabilitation after unprofessional conduct. Factors in determining rehabilitation include: 

  • The nature and severity of the act or crime under consideration.
  • Evidence of any act committed subsequent to the act or crime under consideration.
  • The time that has elapsed since the commission of the act or crime under consideration.
  • The extent to which the applicant has complied with any terms of parole, probation, restitution, or any other sanctions lawfully imposed.
  • Evidence, if any, of rehabilitation.

Even if it is not a requirement, taking proactive steps after an arrest can be helpful. This could also help you in your criminal case to reduce your penalties, get probation, or negotiate a plea deal. This includes seeking out substance abuse treatment after a DUI arrest. 

Going through alcohol abuse counseling can show the judge and the BRN that you are taking the arrest seriously and you are taking steps to address any possible substance abuse issues. Talk to your Oakland DUI defense lawyer for other ways to show rehabilitation after a drunk driving arrest.

Nursing School and DUI Arrests

If you are a nursing student, in nursing school, or completing nursing training, a DUI will not necessarily stop you from getting a nursing license. A drunk driving conviction may require you to answer to the BRN for what happened but it is not a bar to licensing. For more information about a DUI while in nursing school, talk to an experienced East Bay DUI defense lawyer. 

Talk to an East Bay DUI Defense Lawyer About Your Case

Lynn Gorelick has more than 40 years of East Bay DUI defense experience and understands how much is at stake for nurses after a drunk driving arrest. She understands how to approach the individual case and defense strategies to avoid a conviction. If you are a nurse facing DUI charges anywhere in Oakland, Alameda County, or Contra Costa County, contact Lynn Gorelick for help

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