DUI Consequences for Nurses

When licensed nurses are arrested for drunk driving in Virginia, they often worry about whether a DUI conviction will put their license at risk. In my experience, a single DUI will typically not result in loss of a nursing license. However, multiple convictions or problems with substance abuse could lead to disciplinary action.

If you are a nurse and were arrested for drinking and driving in Virginia, talk to your Virginia DUI defense attorney about your rights. Fighting a criminal conviction can be the most important part of avoiding DUI consequences for nurses in Virginia.

Will I lose my nursing license after a DUI in Virginia?

In most cases, a single DUI arrest or conviction will not result in loss of a nursing license in Virginia. However, technically, the nursing board can take any disciplinary measures related to the unsafe use of alcohol or drugs, including a DUI.

Under Virginia Code § 54.1-3007, the nursing board can take the following action for cause.

  • Refuse to admit a candidate to any examination.
  • Refuse to issue a license, certificate, or registration.
  • Suspend any license, certificate, registration, or licensure privilege for any period.
  • Revoke any license, certificate, registration, or licensure.
  • Censure or reprimand any nurse.
  • Place the nurse on probation for any designated time.

The board can take these actions for a number of causes, including the following which may be related to a drug or alcohol action.

  • Use of alcohol or drugs to the extent that such use renders him unsafe to practice.
  • Fraud or deceit in procuring or attempting to procure a license, certificate, or registration.
  • Abuse, negligent practice, or misappropriation of a patient's or resident's property.

For example, a first-time DUI arrest may not normally result in nursing board discipline. However, if a nurse did any of the following, he or she may be reprimanded, even for a first offense DUI.

  • Used a patient's medication and is arrested for driving while impaired by drugs.
  • Was arrested for a DUI on the way to work.
  • Did not disclose a prior DUI on a nursing license application.

Multiple DUIs on Drugs May Result in Nursing Penalties in Virginia

A first-time DUI in Virginia will generally not result in any negative consequences for a nurse's license. However, multiple DUIs, driving under the influence of drugs, or other substance abuse issues could result in serious disciplinary action, including the loss of a nursing license.

Multiple drug or alcohol-related arrests can present a pattern of substance abuse. Other incidents or events could also demonstrate a pattern of abuse, even for non-criminal actions. This could include the following.

  • Smelling of alcohol or drugs while at work.
  • Reported for drinking alcohol while on the job or during a break.
  • Drug possession charges.
  • Public intoxication charges.
  • Multiple absences related to alcohol or drug use.

Will a DUI in the past affect my chances of becoming a nurse?

In most cases, a single, prior drunk driving arrest will not stop a person from becoming a nurse in Virginia. According to the Virginia Board of Nursing, “Each applicant is considered on a case-by-case basis. Virginia law related to nursing licensure does not include any permanent bars to licensure.”

However, the answer to whether a past DUI will affect an applicant's chances of becoming a nurse depend on the circumstances surrounding prior DUIs. Factors that can hurt an applicant related to DUIs include the following.

  • Number of DUIs.
  • DUI on drugs, including prescription medications or illegal drugs.
  • Recent history of drunk or drugged driving arrests or convictions.
  • DUIs resulting in injury or death of another.
  • DUI hit and run.
  • Failing to disclose prior DUIs.

Self-Disclosure of Criminal Convictions (Including DUIs)

According to the nursing board, there are no convictions that are considered a permanent bar to licensure. However, it is important that the applicant discloses all convictions as part of the self-disclosure of criminal convictions history. In addition to self-disclosure, the Virginia Board of Nursing has implemented a criminal background check for nursing licensure.

A conviction may not be an automatic bar to licensure but lying on the application or appearing to hide a prior conviction can be a more serious threat to a nursing license.

Charlottesville DUI Defense Attorney for Nurses

If you are a nurse or other medical professional who was arrested for drinking and driving in Virginia, you don't have to let an arrest threaten your nursing license and your job. Talk to an experienced Charlottesville DUI defense attorney about your case and how to fight Virginia DUI charges. Contact attorney me today for a free consultation.

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