There can be consequences to a criminal conviction beyond the sentence imposed by a judge. These are often called “collateral consequences.” One possible collateral consequence of a DUI is its effect on your employment. This is especially true for anyone involved in or aspiring to a career that requires professional licensure, including nurses and nursing students. The effects of DUI on a nursing license in Arizona depend on a number of factors.
Arizona Board of Nursing
A nurse in Arizona who is charged with a DUI will not only have to deal with the court, but will have to answer to the Arizona Board of Nursing as well. A nurse is required to notify the Board in writing within 10 days of being charged with a DUI. Keep in mind, this notice is required after simply being charged -- not convicted.
Once notified, the Board will typically conduct its own investigation independent of the criminal case, and decide what disciplinary action should be taken. What the Board decides to do depends on a number of things, including any substance abuse or DUI history and your blood or breath alcohol concentration at the time you were charged. An extreme DUI charge in Arizona (over a .150 BAC), a second DUI charge, or a felony DUI charge, is viewed as more serious than a regular, first-time misdemeanor DUI.
The Board may require you to undergo an addiction evaluation. In some cases, the Arizona State Board of Nursing offer nurses the CANDO (“Chemically Addicted Nurses Diversion Option”) program. This is a three-year program that is confidential and allows a nurse to continue working without having to go through a formal investigation.
Ultimately, you could receive formal discipline ranging from a Decree of Censure, formal probation, suspension pending treatment, or even revocation of your license. A second misdemeanor conviction within four years can also make it more difficult to apply to renew a nursing certification.
Felony Aggravated DUI
While a misdemeanor DUI can result in disciplinary action, it will usually not result in the end of your nursing career. The same cannot be said if you are convicted of felony Aggravated DUI. Any felony conviction can result in a revocation of you nursing license in Arizona. A nurse whose license has been revoked because of a felony conviction, may re-apply for a license five years after the sentence has been completed.
Nursing students applying for licensure in Arizona, and even applicants who are already certified in another state, are in a more difficult position than nurses already licensed in Arizona. The application asks about any prior felony or undesignated offenses. It also requires that you give fingerprints and submit to a background check. If the check shows that you have been convicted, even for a misdemeanor DUI, your application could receive additional scrutiny. If you have a prior felony conviction, you cannot be certified and licensed until five years after your felony sentence has been completed.
It’s also important to note that, aside from the consequences to your nursing license, a DUI conviction will require a suspension of your driver’s license. This can also have consequences for your employment because it usually makes it much more difficult to get to work. Nurses work at all hours and public transportation is not always available.
Anyone who has put in the time an effort, not to mention the money, required to become nurse must take a DUI charge seriously. Cooperate with the Board and do whatever is required to keep your license, but also address the criminal case itself. Anything you can do to minimize your criminal record is a step toward protecting your future. At the very least, consult with an experienced DUI lawyer.
* This blog is published by Tucson DUI and criminal defense lawyer Nathan D. Leonardo. Nothing on this website is intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein does not constitute legal advice, but is for general information purposes only. If you have a legal question, you can contact us online or call (520) 314-4125.