Is my professional license at risk in Pennsylvania if I get a DUI?

Given the hard work and education necessary to obtain a professional license ― whether it be a license to practice medicine, nursing, dentistry, pharmacy or even accounting ― it is of vital importance to safeguard this license at all costs. After all, the loss of a professional license would essentially make those years of education and hard work all for naught.

With this in mind, it is crucial for professionals in Pennsylvania to remember that their licenses may be in jeopardy if they ever are convicted of criminal charges such as driving while under the influence of alcohol (DUI). Indeed, licensed professionals not only risk criminal penalties and damaged reputations following DUI convictions, but their livelihoods may be stripped as well.

For instance, if the DUI in question happens to be felony-level offense, a individual's license may be subject to revocation or suspension. Even if not a felony, many Pennsylvania professionals will be required to report the DUI conviction to their governing board or, at the very least, disclose the criminal conviction when they attempt to renew their licenses.

Treatment options for professionals dealing with alcohol abuse

While a Pennsylvania DUI conviction will not necessarily result in the loss of a professional license in every case, it is certainly a real possibility. For instance, in the context of pharmacists, Pennsylvania law states that their licenses may be revoked or suspended if they are "unfit to practice pharmacy because of intemperance in the use of alcohol." Additionally, any felony conviction or criminal offense involving "moral turpitude" may result in the revocation of a Pharmacist's license.

Fortunately, however, pharmacists in danger of losing their licenses as a result of alcohol addiction may have additional options. For example, the Professional Health Monitoring Program (PHMP) ― in conjunction with Pennsylvania's Pharmacist Peer Assistance Program known as SARPH ― offers treatment and monitoring options for pharmacists coping with substance abuse problems. Although this program has strict requirements, it often allows those dealing with alcohol abuse to protect their licenses so long as they adhere to the conditions of the treatment program, which usually lasts for three years.

Importantly, the use of PHMP is not limited to pharmacists. Indeed, most licensed professionals in Pennsylvania can take advantage of the benefits PHMP has to offer.

Fighting the DUI charges

It is also worth noting that there is another option for protecting professional licenses if ever arrested for DUI, namely, to fight the charges. If never actually convicted, there may be nothing to even report to the governing board. For instance, a sound criminal defense may explore whether or not the police had probable cause for the initial stop or if you were apprised of your rights during the arrest.

Ultimately, though, each person's situation is different, which is why it is always best to contact an attorney if you need experienced DUI or professional license defense. An attorney can help you explore your options and determine what path may be best for you.