Anyone charged with DUI in Georgia faces serious consequences and should do everything possible to defend the charge.
For nurses, your career could be at stake.
It is, therefore, crucial to ensure that a drink with your colleagues after a stressful day’s work at the hospital does not have life-altering results.
How will a DUI affect your nursing license in Georgia? What factors will the Board of Nursing consider? And what can you do about a charge of DUI?
The Georgia Board of Nursing and DUI
The issuance and renewal of nursing licenses are the responsibility of the Georgia Board of Nursing, which is a state organization.
Nurses command a position of trust with patients, doctors and hospitals and the Board must protect this special relationship.
As such, nurses may run into serious problems when applying for a new license or renewing it if there is a criminal charge, conviction or another detrimental report against their name.
Any internal disciplinary issue or sanction from criminal authorities will be carefully reviewed by the Board as it determines whether or not you are “fit to practice”.
So, whether you are working towards the medical exam or already a practicing LPN or RN, it pays to be aware of the potential consequences of a DUI and what you can do to mitigate these effects.
Nurses in Georgia must report a DUI
You must be upfront with the Board when applying for or renewing a nursing license.
There are certain mandatory reporting requirements, including reporting any of the following criminal convictions regardless of where they occurred (even if they occurred overseas):
- Any felony conviction
- Any crime involving moral turpitude
- Federal crimes related to controlled substances
- State laws related to controlled substances
- Crimes involving dangerous drugs
You must report any of the above even if you entered a “no contest” plea.
While a DUI conviction for alcohol does not fall into any of these categories, it is best to report it. Your honesty and demonstration of taking responsibility for the offence should be viewed favorably by the Board.
What will the Board do if you are convicted of a DUI?
A conviction for a DUI can result in the refusal of a new license, the revocation of a current license, or other disciplinary measures against you.
The Board will assess the circumstances of your conviction and make a judgement on a case-by-case basis.
In most cases, if it is your first brush with the law, it is not going to ruin your career. The Board of Nursing does not expect perfection. Only in extreme cases would you lose your job because of a DUI – providing it is your first offence and there are no aggravating factors or accompanying charges. You may even be able to escape a suspension of your license.
If you have multiple DUIs, other convictions or you are caught in possession of a controlled substance (including marijuana), the Board will likely view your case with greater severity.
Remember, possession of a controlled substance can result in a felony conviction in Georgia – and that can lead to a mandatory suspension or revocation of a nurse’s state license.
Reports of a chemical dependency in addition to a DUI may also result in harsher treatment from the Board. For instance, a restricted license may be issued for a probationary period rather than a full license.
What is a Georgia Board of Nursing medical exam?
To assist the Georgia Board of Nursing with making a reasonable decision, you may be asked to submit to a physical or mental examination performed by a Board-approved health care professional.
Unlike most medical examinations, the results of this exam are not considered “privileged information” and will be admissible in a hearing before the Board, as are previous medical records, including psychiatric records.
For this exam, there is ”implied consent” according to the terms of your nursing license. If you refuse an examination, it will be viewed unfavorably by the Board unless you have a very good reason and a final verdict will be made taking your refusal to cooperate into account.
What factors will the GA Nursing Board consider?
During your hearing, if you have a DUI conviction against your name, the GA Board of Nursing will consider the following factors:
- Whether there is a criminal conviction against you (including a “no contest” plea)
- Whether you were given first-offender treatment without adjudication of guilt
- Whether you have displayed any conduct suggesting an inability to practice with reasonable skill and safety due to the use of drugs, alcohol, etc.?
How could a DUI affect your nursing license in Georgia?
A DUI in Georgia may have criminal consequences such as jail time, a fine, probation, and a license suspension.
Additionally, the Board of Nursing in Georgia could apply a range of sanctions to your nursing license, depending on the precise circumstances of your case.
Several disciplinary measures may be applied, including:
- Refusal to grant a license to a new applicant
- Revocation of an existing nursing license
- Suspension of a license for a definite period with restoration dependent on certain conditions being met
- Suspension of a license for an indefinite period with restoration dependent on certain conditions being met
- A public or private reprimand
- Limitations or restrictions being placed on the license
- Instruction to take up directed care, counseling or treatment for a condition
- A fine (up to $500)
You may also be ordered to pay reimbursement costs to the Board for conducting an investigation and disciplinary proceedings.
Even if your license is suspended or restricted after a DUI, you should be able to resume your career as normal once you can demonstrate that you can carry out your duties with reasonable skill and safety.
What can you do to defend a DUI in Georgia?
One lapse of judgement on the roads should not be allowed to threaten an entire career that you have worked hard to build.
Whether you face a DUI charge or you have already been convicted of DUI and are concerned about a nursing license application, our criminal defense experience with nursing can help.
The Law Office of Adam D. Brown can help ensure that your next nursing license renewal application is successful. Contact us to arrange a free case evaluation.