Written by Stryder Wegener
Being charged with or convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs can have a profound impact on your life. As our DUI lawyers can tell you, a DUI conviction will have wide spread consequences. We may be able to help you avoid jail time, but you may be forced to pay fines, live without a driver’s license for a time, use an ignition interlock device once you get your license back, and abide by the strict rules of probation. A DUI can also impact your career. For example, you can still be a nurse with a DUI, although you will face hurdles. With a DUI on your record, it can be difficult to obtain your license and get hired as a nurse. If you are already a nurse, you may need to report the DUI and could face disciplinary action.
If you have been charged with a DUI and you are a nurse, in nursing school, or preparing to apply for nursing school, you need to work with an experienced DUI lawyer to defend against the charges. Call Emerald City Law Group to discuss how today at 206-973-0407. Free consultations are available.
A DUI and Nursing School
If you want to become a nurse, or you are already in school, the DUI may or may not impact your education. Many schools will not deny you admission based on a misdemeanor DUI conviction. However, you may need to look into various school’s policies on criminal convictions. Also, if you currently are a student, and you have lost your driver’s license, you may be forced to take a semester or year off. It depends on whether you can obtain reliable transportation to school.
Another way in which a DUI could affect your nursing education is through a loss of scholarships. If you rely on private scholarships to pay for tuition and living expenses, you should prepare for what could happen if you do not win those private scholarships with a DUI on your record.
Obtaining Your RN License Can be Difficult
A greater obstacle than getting into and finishing nursing school with a DUI will occur when it is time to take the NCLEX exam and apply for your Registered Nurse license. When you are ready to seek your RN, you must apply with the Nursing Commission of the Washington State Department of Health. With this application, you must submit your fingerprints for a thorough background check. This background will uncover a DUI arrest, charge, or conviction.
The application specifically asks if you have ever been convicted, entered a guilty or no contest plea, or been prosecuted, or had a sentence deferred or suspended, as an adult or juvenile in any state or jurisdiction. With a DUI conviction, you may need to answer “yes,” and provide certified copies of the court documents.
Just because you have a DUI on your record does not mean your chance to take the test will be denied. However, it does mean the Nursing Commission will take a close look at your application. It can take longer for you to receive your Authorization to Test (ATT) than your peers. It may require you to submit additional information, and the commission will look at the crime’s severity, how long ago it was, and other factors. If your application is denied, do not give up. Many nursing students have their application denied due to a conviction on their record. You can and should appeal the decision.
Getting Hired as a Nurse with a DUI is Another Challenge
If you were charged and convicted of a DUI during nursing school, you may still obtain your license. However, the challenges are not over yet. You still have to apply for jobs, and on many applications, you will need to declare your DUI conviction. For some positions and employers, this will automatically take you out of the running. This is more likely if the facility accepts government funding and does not allow employees to have any DUIs on their record if the position requires driving. For other situations, a DUI may not mean your application will be ignored, yet it may not be at the top of the pile either.
To avoid having to explain a DUI conviction when applying to nurse positions, it is best to work with a DUI lawyer and fight DUI charges. Obtaining an acquittal is in your best interests. If that Is not possible, your attorney can work to have the charges reduced to reckless or negligent driving, depending on the circumstances of your case.
Getting a DUI When You Are a Nurse
Washington has a law regarding mandatory reporting for all health care professionals who commit unprofessional conduct or conduct that demonstrates they cannot skillfully and safely practice their profession. Under this law, you must report a DUI conviction. You also may have to report the arrest, even if you have not been convicted and do not believe you will.
A one-time DUI is unlikely to make you lose your nursing license. However, it will be a challenge to report and explain. You may go through the Nursing Commission’s disciplinary process, particularly if you did not report the incident yourself and another health care professional did. You will have to show the Nursing Commission that you can still be a good nurse and will not put any patients in danger. You may have to abide by the terms of a stipulation of information discipline or endure formal disciplines, such as probation, suspension, or revocation.
Hire a DUI Lawyer to Fight Washington DUI Charges
As a current or future nurse, you do not want a DUI on your record. One misdemeanor DUI conviction will not stop you from being a nurse. However, it will create hurdles that are difficult to cross. It is better to fight the DUI immediately and avoid a conviction. To learn about defending against a DUI, reach out to our legal team at Emerald City Law Group at 206-973-0407 to schedule a free, initial consultation.