Will a DUI ruin my nursing career?

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Medical professionals require a license to practice medicine in California and every other state, and nothing jeopardizes a medical license faster than a DUI conviction. Any alcohol- or drug-related arrest or conviction involving a healthcare professional is considered unprofessional conduct in violation of the California Business and Professions Code. This is true not just for doctors but for nurses as well.

In addition to the criminal consequences associated with a DUI conviction, which may include considerable fines, probation, or possibly even jail time, a DUI in California can also carry severe collateral consequences that can affect a nurse’s personal and professional life. With a DUI on your record, you could have your nursing license suspended or revoked, which would be a significant career setback. If you want to avoid the professional repercussions of a DUI as a nurse, you need a knowledgeable San Diego DUI defense attorney on your side.

Key Takeaways

  • The collateral consequences of a DUI in California can be severe for nurses.
  • Any alcohol- or drug-related arrest or conviction involving a medical professional violates the California Business and Professions Code.
  • Any DUI conviction must be reported to the Board of Nursing within 30 days.
  • A DUI could result in the suspension or revocation of your nursing license.

Consequences of a DUI for Nurses in California

Any person arrested for a DUI in California is vulnerable to harm from at least two sides. First, you have to worry about defending yourself against criminal charges brought by prosecutors. Second, you have to worry about the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) attempting to suspend your driver’s license. For nurses and other healthcare providers, however, there is a third vulnerability to consider: their professional license. As medical professionals, nurses in California are expected to adhere to a certain code of conduct,  both at work and in their personal lives. Engaging in any criminal act is considered a violation of that code, and the consequences of such a violation can be disastrous, personally and professionally.

Can You be a Nurse with a DUI in California?

Getting a DUI as a nurse in California falls under the scope of the California Business and Professions Code (BPC), which contains several codes that outline criminal violations involving nurses and other professionals. Violations of the BPC can result in the suspension or revocation of a professional license for any behavior considered inappropriate for a medical professional, including the use of “any controlled substance…or alcohol beverages, to an extent or in a manner dangerous or injurious to himself or herself, any other person, or the public or to the extent that such use impairs his or her ability to conduct with safety to the public the practice authorized by his or her license” (BPC Section 2762(b)).

The professional consequences of a DUI for a nurse in California depend primarily on the nature of the violation and the existence of any prior offenses. You will not lose your nursing license for a first-time misdemeanor DUI offense, but you may be put on probation. If you have more than one DUI, the Board will likely suspend or revoke your professional license.

How to Handle a DUI as a Nurse in California

As a nurse in California, having a DUI on your record could impede your ability to practice medicine for years to come. That is why knowing how to handle a DUI as a nurse in California is important, including what to do to protect your rights following a DUI arrest or conviction.

Do I have to Report a DUI to the Board of Nursing?

The Board of Registered Nursing has the authority to take disciplinary action against a registered nurse for any violation of the Nursing Practice Act, which is located within the BPC. The BRN requires nurses to report DUI convictions (including a guilty plea or a plea of no contest) within 30 days from the date of the court action. The Board will investigate the DUI and the circumstances surrounding the nurse’s conduct to determine whether the incident is an isolated event or something of more profound concern that may pose a continued risk to public safety.

Upon renewing a registered nurse license in California, licensees are also required to disclose whether they have had any license disciplined by a government agency or other disciplinary body or if they have been convicted of any crime (infraction, misdemeanor, or felony) in any state since they last renewed their license. According to the Board, you only have to report a DUI arrest if you were convicted.

Do I Need an Attorney if I Get a DUI?

Being pulled over for drinking and driving can be frightening and stressful, especially since a straightforward mistake could risk your professional license and nursing career. A DUI arrest could also result in criminal charges, possibly leading to jail time, significant fines, and a period of probation, depending on the nature of the offense and your criminal history. Considering the myriad repercussions of a DUI arrest or conviction, it is in your best interest to speak to a knowledgeable San Diego defense attorney if you are arrested or charged with a DUI in California.

Free San Diego DUI Consultation

Facing a DUI charge and realizing your nursing license is on the line may feel like a worst-case scenario, but having an experienced DUI defense attorney on your side can significantly improve your chances of keeping your nursing license and saving your career. Our San Diego DUI lawyers have years of experience representing nurses and other medical professionals in California DUI cases, and we will do everything in our power to help you minimize the personal and professional consequences of your DUI. Call us today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with our legal team.

How to Contact Our Knowledgeable DUI Defense Attorneys

The DUI defense attorneys at Sevens Legal are standing by, ready to help with your DUI case. Contact our firm today at (619) 762-3200 or visit our website to learn how you can benefit from qualified legal representation.