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Nurse Charged with DUI

What happens after a nurse if charged with DUI? Although a DUI arrest is serious for anyone, nurses have special concerns after an arrest. For nurses, what happens outside the courtroom is almost as important as what happens inside the courtroom.

Your first priority is to hire the best DUI defense attorney for your case. You want to obtain the best possible result at the DHSMV hearing on the administrative suspension and in the criminal case in front of the judge.

At the Sammis Law Firm, we are focused on DUI defense. As a result, we have represented many nurses and health care professionals over the years. We understand the reporting requirements and licensure issues that arise when a nurse is arrested for driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or controlled substances.

For nurses, the goal in the case is often fighting for an outright dismissal. If your case is not dismissed on the merits, then under Florida Statute Section 456.072(1)(x), the nurse must report any plea to any crime charged, including a DUI or reckless driving, within thirty (30) days of the plea or conviction to the Florida Board of Nursing. The nurse must report the plea even if the court "withholds adjudication" or if the case is reduced to a less serious offense such as reckless driving.

Because DUI is an offense that involves an allegation of drug or alcohol abuse, a nurse may be required to submit to evaluation and enrollment in the Impaired Nurses Program (IPN) which typically requires a five-year contract. In the most extreme cases, you might be subjected to an emergency suspension order (ESO) until the licensure case is complete.

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm are also familiar with the requirements of the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN). We can help you determine the best ways to avoid time consuming and expensive requirements that might occur if you do not avoid a DUI conviction. Our attorneys can also help you decide when it might be in your best interest to self-report the arrest to IPN and start counseling immediately so that the overall sanctions are less severe.

Attorneys for Nurses Arrested for DUI in Tampa, FL

If you were arrested for DUI in Tampa, FL, then contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. We understand the special concerns that a nurse, physician, or other health care professional has after an arrest for DUI involving alcoholic beverages or controlled substances.

Contact us to find out why you should demand a formal review hearing within ten (10) days of the arrest. We can help you obtain a 42 day permit while we challenge the administrative suspension of your driver's license. We can help you decide whether you should self-report the arrest to your employer or the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN).

When we represent a Registered Nurses (RN), a Licensed Practical Nurses (LPN), an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) or a certified nursing assistant (CNA) who is charged with DUI, our goal is fighting for an outright dismissal in court and to invalidate the administrative suspension at the DHSMV hearing.

After a first DUI arrest, you might be eligible for a DUI diversion program called RIDR. Entering the RIDR DUI conversion program might not be in your best interest if you have a nursing license. Contact us to find out more.

Although a first DUI is not necessarily career-ending, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to help you fight the case at every stage for the best result.

Call 813-250-0500 today.


Reporting the DUI Plea or Conviction to the Florida Board of Nursing

Under Section 456.072(1)(x), disciplinary action may be taken against a nursing license when the nurse:

(1)(x) fails to report to the board, or the department if there is no board, in writing within 30 days after the licensee has been convicted or found guilty of, or entered a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction. Convictions, findings, adjudications, and pleas entered into prior to the enactment of this paragraph must be reported in writing to the board, or department if there is no board, on or before October 1, 1999.

An attorney can help you decide whether you should accept the first offer of disciplinary action (if it does not involve a suspension or revocation of your license), or whether your attorney should negotiate with the Board of Nursing for a better resolution.


Investigations by the Board of Nursing after a DUI Arrest

In Florida, the Board of Nursing (BON) is responsible for monitoring nurses with substance abuse or alcohol addiction issues. After a complaint is received, the Board of Nursing handles any disciplinary action against the nurse. Even for people initially applying for a nursing license, a background check will be conducted. Any criminal charge can lead to a Board Review before the nursing license will be approved.

If you are convicted of a crime or enter a plea in the courtroom, then a nurse must report the plea or conviction to the Florida Board of Nursing. Depending on the circumstances, it might be better to self-report the incident in advance. This is especially true when you decide it is in your best interest to seek out substance abuse counseling early in the case. If a plea or conviction is likely, completing the substance abuse counseling early in the case often leads to the best result.

We can help you understand the pros and cons of being proactive when completing sanctions in advance. It is particularly important to be proactive if your nursing license records show any prior emergency actions, discipline cases or public complaints.

A first DUI conviction is not likely to lead to the revocation or suspension of your nursing license (if you report it correctly), but a second or third offense might lead to more serious consequences with the Board of Nursing.


Does a DUI Disqualify Me From Being a Nurse in Florida?

If you apply to be a nurse in Florida, you will be asked whether you have ever been convicted or entered a plea of guilty or no contest (nolo contendre) to any crime including driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol or drugs. If you fail to disclose the DUI, then your application can be denied.

What if you properly report the plea or conviction? Will your application be denied automatically because of a DUI conviction? The Board of Nursing reviews criminal convictions on a case-by-case basis. The board will take into consideration the charge, the penalties imposed, any counseling the nurse completed, and any other evidence of rehabilitation.

After a plea or conviction or when reporting the incident to the board of nursing, you might be required to submit the following documents:

  • the criminal report affidavit;
  • the DUI uniform traffic citation (UTC);
  • police reports;
  • the breath test affidavit;
  • any affidavit of refusal to submit to testing;
  • any record of the final disposition including the judgment and sentence;
  • proof that you completed probation;
  • a letter in your explaining the circumstances of your DUI; and
  • letters of recommendation from co-workers or employers.

We have found it is best to submit all of the required documentation so that the board can see that you have disclosed everything.


Additional Resources

Grounds for Discipline in Section 456.072(1) - Find the regulations for health professional and nurses regarding the grounds for discipline. Find the penalties that might occur after a disciplinary action for "being convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction which relates to the practice of, or the ability to practice, a licensee’s profession." The statute also explains the consequences of failing to report required information to the department.

Disciplinary Actions in the Nurse Practice Action in Section 464.018 - Visit the statute to find the rules and regulations for nurses facing disciplinary action. Find out why a nursing license can be revoked, suspended, or otherwise acted against, including the grounds for the denial of licensure. The statute explains the consequences of "being convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, to any crime which directly relates to the practice of nursing." Learn more about the consequences of being unable to practice nursing with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, or chemicals.


Find an Attorney to Defend the Nursing License

The attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm can help you respond appropriately to any disciplinary action taken against a nurse’s license by the Florida Board of Nursing after a DUI arrest.

Contact us for a free consultation to discuss how to respond to the letter from the DOH investigator. We can help you decide whether it is in your best interest to negotiate a settlement or challenging the allegations during an administrative hearing. We can present all of the mitigation in the case that might lead to less serious consequences in IPN.

Our attorney are familiar with the DOH and the IPN program. We understand the typical results and how to fight for the best outcome. We have the experience necessary to hlep nurses with a RN, ARNP, LPN, or CNA license. We can help you fight to avoid a license suspension, revocation, or lengthy sanctions with IPN.


This article was last updated on Thursday, November 15, 2018.