There is already enough on the line after a DUI without having to worry about losing your job. A drunk driving arrest can quickly lead to loss of your driver's license, expensive fines, high insurance rates, and even the possibility of jail time. However, some professionals, including nurses and medical professionals, could also face disciplinary action that could include suspension or loss of your license to practice nursing in California.
Before you begin to despair, it is important that you have a number of rights and protections that can help you avoid a conviction, get a lesser charge, and keep your nursing license. There is a limited time after an arrest to keep your driver's license, so contact an experienced nursing DUI defense lawyer as soon as possible.
Criminal and Administrative Process
The criminal process of a DUI and administrative consequences are separate. The criminal process involves the district attorney prosecuting the charges before a judge, with a possible jury hearing the case. The consequences will include fines, possible jail time, probation, and other restrictions.
The administrative process will generally go through the California Board of Registered Nursing. Nurses in California have a duty to report criminal convictions, including a conviction for driving under the influence (DUI). Convictions must also be reported even if they have been adjudicated, dismissed, or expunged. Convictions must even be reported if a court ordered diversion plan has been completed.
Upon renewal of a registered nurse license, the nursing board also requires the licensee to indicate any conviction in any state or other country since their last renewal. Even if you are a nurse licensed in California, if you got a DUI in Arizona, Nevada, or any other state, it has to be reported.
In reporting a prior conviction or discipline, the applicant has to provide a full written explanation of:
- Circumstances surrounding the arrest and conviction;
- Date of incident;
- Specific violation, court location or jurisdiction, sanctions or penalties imposed and completion dates;
- Certified copies of arrest and court documents; and
- For drug and alcohol convictions, include documents that indicate blood alcohol content (BAC) and sobriety date.
Consequences of Not Reporting a DUI
Some people are tempted not to report a DUI because they are embarrassed or they hope the Nursing Board won't find out about it. However, failing to report it can be worse in the long run than reporting a DUI because the board may treat the incident more harshly because it was never disclosed.
Job Protections After an Arrest
After the criminal part of a DUI and the administrative part of a DUI, a nurse may still have concerns about their job. Job protections may vary based on the type of job, and a nurse that is in a union may have additional protections. If you have questions about whether you have to report a DUI to your job, talk to your lawyer for guidance.
DUI During Nursing School
Nurses in training are held to a high level of scrutiny before they become licensed to practice. Any criminal convictions or drug or alcohol-related incidents could seriously impact the future of a nursing student. Unfortunately, accidents do happen and someone may simply be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
A DUI arrest will not necessarily prevent a nursing student from becoming a nurse. Some hospitals will not allow nursing students to work there if they are on probation. However, it may be considered with other factors, including prior drunk driving charges, a history of drug or alcohol abuse, or other warning signs of substance abuse.
Disciplinary Hearing After a DUI
The nursing board may take disciplinary action after a DUI conviction, which could include probation, practice under supervision, license suspension, or license revocation. Your criminal defense attorney can work closely with your nursing board attorney to help build a strong case in your defense. If the nursing board takes unfair action after a disciplinary hearing, you may have the chance to appeal the decision.
Help for Nurses After an East Bay DUI Arrest
Lynn Gorelick has helped many nurses and healthcare professionals avoid a criminal conviction after a DUI arrest. Contact the local criminal defense lawyer who understands that you do not have to put your license at risk just because you were arrested.