How Does a DUI Conviction Affect Your Nursing License?

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A DUI conviction is life-changing for medical practitioners and specifically damaging for nurses compared to other professions. A DUI conviction is a misdemeanor that has collateral and long-lasting impact on a nurse’s career. Nurses charged with DUI contend not only with criminal charges and DMV complaints, but are also subjected to an in-depth oversight by the licensing bodies. Fortunately, like other cases, a DUI attorney can help.

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What Are the Affirmative Disclosure Requirements?

Nearly all state licensing bodies require registered nurses to disclose their convictions, which might be a no contest plea or plea of guilty taken in a criminal court within 30 days of conviction. The Department of Justice submits reports to the Nursing Board of nurses arrested and the plea taken in a criminal court.

According to the Nursing Board, self-reporting is a strong mitigating factor that can help your case. Omitting what happened or reporting false claims can lead to serious consequences. Besides self-reporting within 30 days, registered nurses should also disclose convictions after renewal.

Nurses involved in these cases should expect their biennial license renewal process to take long. This is because the board should verify all the information provided. You may also be required to provide supporting documents when applying for license renewal.

How Do Nursing Boards Handle DUI Convictions?

Nursing boards recognize that nurses may seek relief from drugs and alcohol due to the tough professional demands and fast-paced working environment. To address such issues, nursing boards in most states have developed drug and alcohol intervention programs to help registered nurses with burnout symptoms.

Unfortunately, some nurses may not qualify for these programs or opt-out since participating in the program requires that they stop working for some period. Depending on the circumstance, the board investigates and recommends if the nurse should be disciplined and the appropriate level of discipline required, as per the Nurse Practice Act.

Nursing boards consider driving under the influence unprofessional behavior, even if it happened during personal time. The board also has the authority to discipline, sanction, suspend, or revoke nursing licenses due to such unprofessional conduct. However, before going to such extents, the nursing board evaluates the nurses’ history and level of discipline before the conviction.

What Types of Discipline May be Imposed?

If a DUI conviction results in accusations against the nurses’ license, they may be disciplined through either of the following ways;

  • Letter of Public Reprimand – The board may issue this as a formal warning. It is attached to the license and remains active for three years. The letter doesn’t restrict the use of license or ability to practice.
  • Probation – Most convictions result in stayed revocation or probationary terms according to the nursing boards’ disciplinary guidelines. The nurse may have to satisfy up to 20 requirements during probation, such as adhering to all laws, reporting to the probation monitor, and more. Licenses for nurses who violate probation terms are revoked.
  • Revocation – The board may decide to revoke your license in serious cases. Nursing boards can insist on this for nurses who need to join diversion or rehabilitation programs before practicing safely. They can apply for licensure later.

Endnote

DUI convictions may spell serious consequences for nurses and other health practitioners. Fortunately, losing your license due to DUI cases is not easy. The board allows you to defend yourself from the conviction. Hiring a nurse DUI attorney can help save your nursing career if you are in such a position.

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