You worked hard to earn your license as a registered nurse, and you expect your career to continue for many more years.
However, if law enforcement arrests you on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, will a conviction put your professional license in danger?
Boards of nursing have disciplinary rules that vary from state to state. In addition to monitoring conduct while on the job, boards are becoming increasingly focused on the conduct of nurses outside of work. Unprofessional conduct is a basis for discipline.
An administrative review
In a 2012 California case, a nursing board penalized a nurse with a DUI conviction for “using alcohol in a dangerous way” by placing his license on probation for three years. The nurse appealed the board’s definition of unprofessional conduct, which addressed an unfitness to practice nursing. His argument was that there was no relationship between his DUI and his fitness to practice nursing. While the reviewing court sided with the nurse, the appellate court disagreed, holding the view that a licensed nurse must be “professional at all times.”
A thorough investigation
The definition of unprofessional conduct is broad-based among boards of nursing and each case is unique. One state board could view this as behavior meant to deceive or harm the public, while another might define it as engaging in an unprofessional or unsafe practice while off duty. Building a successful defense for a DUI charge would begin with a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding your arrest. If faced with a DUI conviction, your career and your integrity are at stake and you deserve the best possible outcome for your case.