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Holiday celebrations can affect your medical license

It is hard to believe that the Fourth of July is just days away. The Fourth is, really, Philadelphia's holiday, and the city and its surrounds make the most of it. The streets and highways will be crowded with people on their way to their favorite event, whether it's a concert, a festival or the fireworks at Penn's Landing, where the Tall Ships will add to the excitement.

All of those people and all of those events, unfortunately, put more drunk drivers on the roads, too. Even typically responsible drivers will take unnecessary risks on holidays like the Fourth. There is something about summer that frees us of our inhibitions -- and, in some cases, our common sense.

Being pulled over for driving while intoxicated is a serious matter for everyone, but for medical professionals the consequences can be life-changing. A DWI for an active practitioner or an aspiring one could mean suspension, revocation or denial of a professional license.

For dentists and dental hygienists, for example, the Pennsylvania Board of Dentistry has the authority to keep a practitioner who has been found guilty of a crime of "moral turpitude" or a felony from practicing. This is true even if the crime was not committed or the conviction made in Pennsylvania. Under this rule, it's important to note that a guilty plea or a plea of nolo contendere will warrant the same level of discipline.

A practitioner's license may also be affected if he or she misrepresents the facts of such a crime. Say a dental school student pleaded guilty to a DWI in Connecticut and received a suspended sentence. A few months later, the student graduates and decides to practice in Pennsylvania.

He has a choice to make: He can disclose the details of his DWI, or he can simply not tell the board about the DWI. If he discloses, the board may deny him his license. If he does not disclose, he may receive his license, but, when the board finds out about the DWI and his lie, he could lose his license for a time or forever.

Think before you drink and drive: Protect your license and your future this Fourth of July.

Source: Pennsylvania Board of Dentistry, "The Dental Law: Act of May 1, 1993, P.L. 216, No. 76 Cl. 63," October 2010, accessed June 26, 2015

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If you are a licensed nurse, doctor, dentist, pharmacist or any other professional in Pennsylvania, call The Law Offices of Brian E. Quinn for help. Based in Philadelphia, our attorneys have decades of experience in the fields of professional license defense, criminal defense and family law.

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