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Will a DUI cause my nursing license to be revoked?

In short, a DUI can cause a nurse to lose their license. If you were arrested for a DUI, you may be terrified of losing your nursing license. A DUI is a violation of the Nursing Practice Act section 2762, “using any alcoholic beverages to an extent or manner dangerous or injurious to oneself, any other person, or the public”. The violation is a revocable offense.

In typical DUI cases, the defendant must only worry about the criminal charges or the DUI and then the process of getting their driver’s license back. For registered nurses, they face the additional hurdle of the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN).

BRN notice and Diversion notification

When you are arrested for a DUI, you are finger printed and the BRN will receive notice of the arrest almost immediately. Nurses are required to disclose a conviction to the BRN within 30 days, but they do not have to disclose the arrest, even though the BRN has already been notified. Once the BRN has been notified of you arrest through the judicial system, they will send you a letter with the option to participate in the voluntary Diversion program.

Diversion is an intervention program for registered nurses whose practice may be impair due to substance abuse. The program is designed to be a resource for nurses who are struggling, but before committing research the pros and cons of the program. Typically when a nurse enrolls in the Diversion program their license is deactivated. If you are attempting to prevent your license from being deactivated or revoked, know that entering into Diversion will likely deactivate it. Remember, the program is voluntary and you do not have to enter into the program unless you want to.

Disclosing the conviction

As mentioned, if you are convicted of the DUI you must disclose the conviction to the BRN within 30 days. The content of the disclosure is vitally important, as what is said can either help or hinder your case with the BRN. Having legal assistance with this step is in your best interest. In the best case scenario, you would receive a citation and a fine. More troubling is when the case goes to the deputy attorney general for review.

If your case is reviewed by the deputy attorney general, an Accusation will be filed against your nursing license. It is at the Accusation stage that the BRN calls for your nursing license to be revoked. Having an attorney present at the Accusation stage is essential as an attorney can negotiate for reduced discipline which would allow you to keep your license.

Getting a DUI charge is not a guarantee that you will lose your nursing license, but help yourself by getting a legal advocate early on in the process.

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