If you’re arrested, charged and convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) in Georgia and hold a medical license, you will not only have a criminal record but your professional license may also be affected.
Pre-employment background checks will include information relating to your conviction, and your license to practice can even be suspended or revoked.
The good news is that with legal representation, you will reduce the chances of having to face the direst consequences for your professional license and career after a DUI conviction.
An experienced medical license defense lawyer can fight your case with the licensing board in Georgia — but the best course of action is to avoid the conviction in the first place by successfully defending yourself from the DUI charge.
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What happens to my medical license in Georgia after a DUI?
Georgia is one of the strictest states in the country when it comes to DUI enforcement. A first DUI is a misdemeanor offense here and a conviction can result in serious penalties, such as up to twelve months in jail and a $1,000 base fine.
Numerous other statutorily mandated conditions, such as suspension of your driver’s license and treatment for alcohol/drug use (Risk Reduction Program) could also follow.
Then there is the impact on your medical license and your livelihood to consider. Doctors, nurses, EMTs, and other medical professionals are expected to protect the health, safety and well-being of others and, as such, are held to high standards by the governing bodies of the profession.
A DUI conviction may be viewed as a serious risk to others and both the Georgia Board of Nursing and the Georgia Composite Medical Board mandate the notification of any arrest by an individual or their employer.
After the Board receives notice, a decision will be made about the license of the professional in question. Sanctions may include:
- Fines up to $3,000
- Public or private reprimand
- Corrective training or additional medical education courses
- Probation from practicing
- Suspension of the medical license
- Permanent revocation of the license (in the most serious cases)
Those convicted of DUI will probably also have to undergo a mental/physical examination, with the results factored into the decision about your right to practice.
If you are a nurse arrested on suspicion of committing a crime in Georgia, your professional career is at stake. Whether you were arrested for
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
Probation, suspension and revocation of a medical license in Georgia
It is important to understand the difference between three of the main disciplinary measures taken by the Medical Board in Georgia:
If a healthcare provider is placed on probation, the professional is monitored for a specific period to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of the probation order from the Board. Conditions may include requiring supervision by another provider, restricting certain procedures, and requiring the licensee to undergo training or psychiatric treatment.
With a suspended license, a healthcare provider is ordered by the Medical Board to temporarily cease practicing in Georgia. The Board may later provide permission to continue practicing.
With a revoked license, the healthcare professional is no longer legally able to practice medicine in Georgia — the most severe type of disciplinary action against a licensee.
What happens with multiple DUI convictions?
Just as with criminal penalties, the sanctions you face for a DUI conviction will likely depend on your past record and the seriousness of the DUI charge.
For instance, a first offense where nobody was injured would nearly always be treated more favorably than a third offense where a pedestrian was injured by your actions, for instance.
Multiple convictions can be problematic as they demonstrate a pattern of behavior. It’s difficult to argue that the DUI was an isolated incident if you were convicted of DUI two years previously.
A third conviction within the past 10 years in Georgia is classed as a high and aggravated misdemeanor and a fourth is a felony (note: child endangerment and DUI with Serious Injury by Vehicle are also felonies in Georgia).
To sum up, a single misdemeanor DUI with no aggravating factors is unlikely to result in a professional license suspension or revocation but multiple convictions or aggravating circumstances make the professional consequences far more serious.
Is my medical malpractice insurance affected by a DUI?
Doctors in Georgia are not legally required to carry medical malpractice insurance and, while it is advisable to possess it (after all, medical lawsuits are very costly), thousands don’t.
If a conviction for DUI is on your record, it can impact the decision of the insurance company about whether or not to provide coverage. If coverage is provided, the premium may be inflated because of the DUI conviction.
Will a DUI affect my med school application?
If you apply to med school with a DUI conviction on your record, it is likely to be flagged with your application. Most medical schools conduct background checks or use the Association of American Medical Colleges to obtain the information.
Be honest on your application and own up to the DUI. Usually, you can address the issue further as necessary but if the school discovers that you were trying to hide the conviction, it could count against you.
DUIs are not considered crimes of moral turpitude, which are regarded as among the most serious for medical professionals. These offenses usually involve criminal intent or are morally reprehensible, such as fraud or most violent crimes.
DUI is not considered the same level of crime but lying about a conviction on your med school application may be considered morally reprehensible.
Why fight DUI charges in Georgia?
If you have been arrested and charged with DUI, it is far from a foregone conclusion that you will be convicted.
Many cases get thrown out, prosecution cases can be weak and law enforcement frequently makes errors that aid your defense. You should always fight a DUI charge because the serious consequences of a conviction may be avoided with a case dismissal, acquittal or, at least, reduced charges (such as reckless driving, which won’t show permanently on your record).
A skilled DUI defense lawyer can help you fight your criminal case so that the professional consequences are less serious too.
Contact the Law Office of Adam D. Brown to arrange a case evaluation if you need advice or representation in matters concerning medical licenses in Gwinnett County, Georgia.