I Got a DUI in California: Am I going to Lose My Nursing License?

Healthcare professionals, especially nurses, are characterized as compassionate and responsible individuals who put effort into caring for those who are enduring challenges related to their health. We often think of nurses and other medical professionals as hard working people with hearts of gold, but even the most caring and qualified individuals make mistakes from time to time. Whether they are taking care of terminally ill patients, sick kids or the elderly, or an influx of emergency room visitors, nurses have a lot on their plates. Often, recognition of a nurse’s talent is overlooked and shifts are extended due to staff shortages. [For a great read, check out our article, Consequences for DUI Under 21! here].

While nurses have access to medications that are patient- designated, stress and drug availability can be a lethal combination for some. The California Board of Nursing recognizes the risks of this combination of stress and drug availability, and has created a drug and alcohol intervention program designed specifically for registered nurses.

Even with this program, some nurses get behind the wheel of a car while drunk or high anyway. When this happens, the years of training, internships, and working towards professional licensure can be irreparably damaged in one fell swoop. The Florence Nightingale Pledge, also known loosely as the nurse’s oath, declares that nurses will not cause intentional harm or knowingly provide drugs or substances that may be deemed dangerous. A nurse who is intoxicated and operating a motor vehicle is not adhering to the nurse’s oath.

So what is a nurse charged with a DUI to do?

Things get trickier and more complex if nurses are found guilty for DUI. For starters, nurses must report only convictions, not arrests, to the California Board of Registered Nurses (BRN). A conviction of a DUI charge in the State of California is considered (at least) a misdemeanor; misdemeanor and felony (subsequent DUI’s may fall into this category) convictions must be reported to the nursing board.

The results of being convicted with a DUI may include a revocation of one’s nursing license. Such behavior falls under the professional codes of conduct dictated by the BRN. Additionally, the law recommends revocation of a nursing license if the use of drugs or alcohol poses a danger to oneself or others, and impedes the ability to practice nursing safely. A revocation may be stayed after a nurse serves three years probation, but the damage caused by losing one’s license for even three years remains considerable.

Fortunately, there are conditions the Board of Nursing may consider in order to alleviate the consequences. When your circumstances will be taken under consideration, your overall disciplinary and criminal records will be considered, as will the potential harm to oneself or the public that may or may not have been involved in the course of driving a car while under the influence.

Because the ramifications of a DUI charge for a registered nurse can be far-reaching, affecting both your personal and professional journeys, it is crucial that you enlist the support of an DUI attorney who will aggressively advocate for your rights. Call The Hurwitz Law Group, Inc to help you strategize a way to navigate your DUI conviction while keeping your professional goals in mind.

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