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Can You Be A Nurse With A DUI?

Posted by Michael Geller | Oct 01, 2021 | 0 Comments

Legal Effects of a DUI on a Registered Nurse's License

Getting charged and convicted of a DUI is a serious offense that can have far-reaching ramifications, including on your chosen professional career. This is especially true when you need to maintain licensure for your chosen profession. For example, registered nurses can have their jobs put in jeopardy with a DUI conviction on their record. This is because a registered nurse convicted of a DUI will be subject to an investigation by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

Process of a Case

The BRN will investigate the circumstances associated with the registered nurse's DUI conviction. They will evaluate the nurse's conduct and whether the DUI was a one-off event or whether there may be a deeper issue that could mean the nurse poses a risk to public safety. The BRN's evaluation will ultimately result in a determination on whether the nurse should be disciplined or sanctioned for their conduct.

Alcohol Intervention Program

The BRN understands the inherent complexities associated with alcohol abuse. As a result, the BRN established a drug and alcohol intervention program designed to help registered nurses who may be showing symptoms of substance use disorder. However, if a nurse does not qualify for the intervention program or decides not to participate, the BRN will assess whether discipline is warranted in accordance with its disciplinary guidelines and the level of discipline under the Nurse Practice Act.

Potential Penalties

The BRN possess the authority to sanction, discipline, suspend and/or revoke a registered nurse's license when a nurse has engaged in unprofessional conduct. Relevant statutes established that a conviction, including a DUI conviction, meets the standard to be considered unprofessional conduct.

If the BRN decides to penalize a nurse who was convicted of a DUI, there are different potential punishments. For example, the BRN could issue a Letter of Public Reprimand (LPR), which is a formal warning. This letter will be attached to the nurse's license and can be viewed by the general public online for three years. However, this letter does not place any restriction on the nurse's license or their ability to practice nursing.

In most instances, when a registered nurse is convicted of a DUI, the BRN typically orders the nurse to undergo a probationary term, in accordance with the Board's Disciplinary Guidelines. The probationary term includes ordering the nurse to adhere to many different probation requirements, including:

  • Obeying all laws;
  • Agreeing to submit to random drug testing and alcohol testing;
  • Reporting in-person to a probation monitor;
  • Reimbursing the money that the BRN spent conducting the investigation and trying the disciplinary case.

When a nurse is put on probation, they can continue working on a restricted basis between two and five years. If the nurse meets all of the probation requirements, the probation will end. However, if the nurse violates the terms of their probation, then they will be at risk of losing their license or they will have to remain on probation for an extended period of time.

Impact on the Livelihood of a Registered Nurse

A DUI for a registered nurse can be a life-changing event and particularly damaging to their livelihood.  For example, a misdemeanor conviction may haunt the nurse for years down the road and hinder their ability to continue practicing medicine and working in the nursing profession.

Reasons to Hire an Administrative Law Attorney

It is extremely important to retain the services of an administrative law attorney immediately after finding out about the allegations to ensure you position yourself for the best possible outcome. When you have an administrative law attorney on your side, you will have access to their deep knowledge of both criminal law and professional licensure regulations. An attorney also understands the implications that a DUI can have on your nursing career and can take the necessary steps to protect your livelihood.

Have Questions? Speak to an Administrative Law Attorney Today

If you are a registered nurse charged with a DUI or other criminal offense, take action by contacting an administrative law attorney with The Geller Firm to schedule a comprehensive, confidential consultation. We are located in the San Francisco Bay Area and are proud to provide legal services in Lafayette, Orinda, Moraga, and Contra Costa County, along with San Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, and Pleasanton.

About the Author

Michael Geller

Michael Geller grew up in San Francisco, CA. He attended the University of Southern California for his undergraduate studies, the City University of New York for his medical training, and Santa Clara University School of Law for his legal education.


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