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Can a DUI jeopardize my nursing license in California?

Yes. A conviction for driving under the influence not only places you at risk for jail time, fines and losing your driver’s license, but it could place your professional nursing license at risk.

The California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) investigates RNs whose behavior may endanger the safety of others. A felony DUI conviction often leads to harsh punishment, including a suspended or revoked nursing license.

Do I have to report a DUI to the BRN?

The California nursing board has strict reporting requirements when RNs face DUI charges. Here are some things to consider:

  • You must report a DUI conviction within 30 days, including a plea of guilty or no contest.
  • The California Department of Justice notifies the BRN after a criminal court records an arrest or plea.
  • You are not required to report a misdemeanor DUI arrest. However, the Justice Department typically notifies the BRN after fingerprinting.
  • You will likely not lose your RN license over a first-time misdemeanor conviction.
  • Severe ramifications are all but certain for repeat DUI offenders.

In some cases, BRN penalties for a first-time DUI can be more extensive if you fail to report a conviction or claim it never happened.

How can my license be affected?

In many situations, the BRN recognizes the intense strain nurses have been under during the pandemic and looks to minimize the impacts when appropriate. Depending upon the circumstances of each case, discipline can include:

  • Letter of Public Reprimand: This formal warning is in effect for three years but places no restrictions on a nursing license.
  • Probation: Typically lasting two to five years, the BRN can impose up to nearly two dozen requirements upon a nurse during the probationary period, including random drug and alcohol testing.
  • Revocation: In the most serious cases, the board often suspends or revokes a nurse’s license and requires them to enter a rehabilitation or diversion program before being reinstated.

Vigorous defense against DUI charges can be crucial to your career

Contesting a DUI charge is critical for keeping your driving privileges, which in itself may be essential to making a living. But a misdemeanor or felony conviction can often place a professional license in peril. That’s why it’s crucial to fight a DUI charge.

If stopped after consuming alcohol, never admit to the officer that you’ve been drinking. While it’s advisable to follow their instructions, you can politely decline to answer any questions. If charged, keep calm and refrain from answering any questions without your lawyer at your side.

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