Teachers Arrested for DUI
When a public or private school teacher is arrested for DUI, they have to worry about three pending actions:
- the criminal case in court for the pending DUI charge;
- the administrative suspension of their driver’s license at the DHSMV; and
- disciplinary action against their license as a certified educator.
After a DUI arrest, your first priority is to hire a good DUI defense attorney in Tampa, FL, to help you fight the criminal and administrative DUI case. The four attorneys at the Sammis Law Firm focus on DUI defense. As a result, we have represented many teachers and certified educators over the years.
If a crash occurs or if anyone is injured in the incident, it might receive media attention. The school district will immediately open an investigation into the incident.
The disciplinary action might also be triggered by Florida Statute §1012.797, if a local law enforcement agency is required to report the school employees the arrest to the appropriate school superintendent within 48 hours. The arrest must be reported when it involves accusations of child abuse or drug possession.
In these cases, Pam Stewart, as the Commissioner of Education, will file an Administrative Complaint seeking suspension, revocation, permanent revocation, or other action against your Florida educator’s certificate.
The DUI defense attorneys at Sammis Law Firm understand the reporting requirements and procedures in disciplinary actions that might follow the resolution of the criminal case in court. If you report entering a plea or being convicted of a crime, it will trigger a disciplinary hearing that might lead to the Department of Education imposing sanctions against your Florida Educator Certificate.
Lawyers for Teachers Charged with DUI in Tampa, FL
After a DUI arrest, contact Leslie Sammis, an experienced DUI defense attorney at the Sammis Law Firm. Our main office is located in downtown Tampa, FL. We also have a second office located in New Port Richey, FL.
We can help you demand the formal review hearing within 10 days after the arrest to challenge the administrative suspension. We can help you fight the criminal charges in court.
The attorneys at Sammis Law Firm in Tampa, FL, can also help you negotiate a settlement agreement that will resolve the disciplinary action to minimize the impact on your teaching career.
We can also attend your hearing with the Teacher Hearing Panel of the Education Practices Commission. The commission decides during this hearing whether to accept the settlement agreement as to the appropriate resolution of the case.
When there is not enough evidence to support the disciplinary action and the case involves disputed issues of fact, then our attorneys can represent you during a formal hearing before the Division of Administrative Hearings or an informal hearing before the Education Practices Commission, a quasi-judicial body.
Call 813-250-0500 to discuss your case.
Preliminary Investigation After a Teacher is Arrested
The Office of Professional Practices with the Florida Department of Education is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving teachers and certified educators.
The arrest or filing of formal charges might trigger a complaint and disciplinary action. Being arrested for DUI is a form of misconduct that might trigger disciplinary action.
Under Section 1012.796, Florida Statutes, the complaint of misconduct and all information obtained pursuant to the investigation by the Office of Professional Practices Services with the Florida Department of Education is exempt from public disclosure.
This information is considered “confidential” at least until the conclusion of the preliminary investigation.
Although most allegations of educator misconduct are related to something that occurs at the school campus or with members of the school community, a misconduct allegation can also involve something that happened off-campus and away from students.
Notice of the Disciplinary Action Against the Florida Educator Certificate
The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Professional Practices Services will send the teacher written notice of the preliminary investigation via certified mail. When the investigation is triggered by a criminal accusation, the notice will list the offense, the date of the offense, and whether charges were filed.
The notice explains that if the allegations are founded, it might lead to disciplinary action, including permanent revocation, against the teacher’s Florida Educator Certificate.
An attorney can help you respond to the disciplinary action within ten (10) days of receipt of the written notice from the Office of Professional Practices Services in the Florida Department of Education. We can prepare a letter and attach documents, exhibits, or a list of evidentiary witnesses.
After the preliminary investigation by the Office of Professional Practices Services is completed, a second letter will explain the result of the preliminary investigation. You can find information on the rules and procedures for challenging the action at www.myfloridateacher.com.
When the commissioner of education finds probable cause to justify sanctions against your Florida Educator Certificate, you will be provided with a “Finding of Probable Cause” letter, Administrative Complaint, and Election of Rights form by certified mail.
An attorney can often help you reach a settlement without admitting or denying the allegations, especially for a first DUI offense.
Sanctions Against the Florida Educator Certificate
Under Section 1012.795(1)(f), Florida Statutes, if a teacher is convicted or found guilty of, or entering a plea of guilty to, regardless of adjudication of guilty, any misdemeanor, felony, or any other criminal charge other than a minor traffic violation, then penalties can be imposed including:
- a written reprimand;
- an administrative fine;
- restrictions on the scope of practice;
- suspension not to exceed five years;
- revocation not to exceed ten years; or
- permanent revocation of your Educator Certificate.
For allegations of drugs or alcohol abuse, the Education Practices Commission might require the teacher to enroll in the Recovery Network Program (RNP).
In some cases, it is better to self-report the issue and begin treatment immediately so that the overall sanctions are less severe. It might be faster, cheaper, and more convenient to self-report rather than wait on an administrative action that is sure to follow.
An attorney can help you complete the election of rights (appeal) form that comes with the administrative complaint that seeks disciplinary sanctions against the teacher’s educator’s certificate pursuant to section 1012.315, 1012.795 and 1012.796, Florida Statutes.
The election of rights form must be completed, signed and returned to the Office of Professional Practices Services before the deadline imposed.
The rules for these actions are found in the Florida Administrative Code at Rule 6A-10.081 for the Principles of Professional Conduct for the Education Profession in Florida.
Settlement Agreements with the Education Practices Commission in Florida
Your attorney might be able to help you reach a settlement agreement after Pam Stewart, as the Commissioner of Education, files an Administrative Complaint seeking to suspend, revoke, permanently revoke or take other disciplinary action against the Florida eductor’s certificate.
After entering into a written Settlement Agreement for resolution, the Teacher Hearing Panel of the Education Practices Commissions meets via telephone conference call to decide whether to accept the Settlement Agreement as the appropriate resolution of the cause.
If it is accepted, then a final order will be entered and the educator will be required to comply with its terms and conditions.
Copies of the final order will be provided to the Clerk of the Division of Administrative Hearings, the Senior Assistant Attorney General, the Office of Professional Practices Services, and the Bureau of Educator Certification.
After the agreement is accepted, a final order is entered and the educator will complete the terms and conditions.
Within 30 days of rendition of the final order, the educator is entitled to judicial review pursuant to Section 120.68, Florida Statutes, and the Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure.
The notice of appeal must be filed with the Education Practices Commission and the appropriate district court of appeals within thirty (30) days of rendition of the final order.
Recovery Network Program – Established in 1994, the Recovery Network Program provides treatment options to help teachers and educators with issues related to drug or alcohol abuse or mental health issues. The final order might contain a requirement that you undergo an evaluation or treatment with the Recovery Network Program (RNP).
This article was last updated on Thursday, July 30, 2020.