Facing DUI charges comes with the potential consequences of jail time, license suspension or revocation, rehab, public service and fines.
However, if you are a nurse, you may have even more at stake than community service and a hit to your wallet. In fact, your career may be at risk.
The role of the nursing board
As a licensed nurse, you have the obligation to inform the Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing of any arrest or conviction, including a DUI. It is likely the Board will find out anyway, because of the circumstances, because someone else reports you or if the police notify them. However, if you do not meet the deadline for making this report yourself, you face sanctions by the Board.
A nursing board is not in place to defend you if you face legal or ethical trouble related to your license. Instead, its purpose is to ensure that the nursing industry upholds the highest standards and that nurses who place their patients in danger are not permitted to practice. Following your DUI arrest, it will be the mission of the Board to determine whether you are fit to continue as a nurse.
Your future in the hands of the Board
The consequences of reporting your arrest to the Board could vary. The Board may consider many factors when weighing its options, including whether your DUI caused an accident that resulted in injury or death or whether this is your first arrest for an alcohol-related offense. Some disciplinary measures include the following:
- Continued practice under strict supervision
- License suspension
- License revocation
Knowing you must deal with your DUI in the criminal courts, you may be less than enthusiastic about facing a disciplinary hearing. However, it is important to know that you have the right to legal counsel in both situations.
While you may benefit from a criminal attorney who can help you with your DUI charges, when you stand before the disciplinary board, you certainly want representation from a professional who has experience defending nurses whose licenses are in jeopardy. Having that representation before self-reporting to the Board is a wise move.