How a DUI Can Affect Your Professional License
The most common crime committed in California is driving under the influence. Law abiding citizens who would never imagine committing a crime, commit this one – even professionals. If you hold a professional license in California and you are arrested for driving under the influence or alcohol or drugs, your professional licensing board will be informed of your arrest.
A DUI arrest initiates both administrative and criminal proceedings. The administrative proceeding which is administered by the DMV where the DMV considers only whether the detention and arrest of the driver was lawful. Very rarely does the DMV reverse (set aside) a DUI arrest. The DMV proceedings almost always occur before the criminal proceeding and if the arrest is deemed lawful, the DMV will act on the driver’s license to drive. This is not a DUI article, but you can learn more about the administrative proceedings here. The point is: your professional licensing board may learn of the DMV action and act on that even before the criminal proceedings.
Professions that require a high degree of trust, such as those in healthcare fields, are more likely to be subject to disciplinary action by their board following a DUI. Typically, the professional will be informed of an action by their board when the board files a accusation against the licensee. In most cases, the board allegation will be for unprofessional conduct, that is, an offense that is conviction on an offense that is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties” of the professional. Most healthcare licensing boards consider a DUI as “substantially related.”
Commonly boards discipline first-time DUIs with a term of probation that includes mandatory conditions such as counseling or an alcohol education program. However, if there are other factors associated with the DUI, for example: previous DUI arrests, reckless driving, a felony DUI conviction, an accident or injury, the discipline could be severe. The board may consider such factors and order a suspension or even a revocation of your professional license.
However, even in the case of minimal discipline, the professional’s public record will be affected. The professional licensing boards make public any record of discipline. In some cases, that can remain on the professional’s record forever.What Can You Do to Protect Your License?
If you have been charged with a DUI in Orange County, it is important to take action to protect your professional license. You should immediately contact an experienced attorney who can defend your DUI and your license. DUI defense attorneys who are not also experienced in defending a professional license may focus only on the DUI without an awareness as to how the DUI outcome may affect his or her client’s professional license.
Orange County professional license defense attorney William Weinberg is experienced in both DUI and professional license defense. He can help you understand the rules of your professional licensing board and how a DUI conviction could affect your license. Mr. Weinberg will work to negotiate a plea agreement with the prosecutor that will not result in a DUI conviction, if the circumstances allow. In the case of a conviction and any related discipline by the licensing board, Mr. Weinberg will represent you at the board hearing and advocate for the most minimal discipline possible. Although the boards follow guidelines when meting out discipline, every disciplinary matter is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. Mr. Weinberg can also represent you on an appeal (or writ of mandate) should the board make an adverse decision.
If you hold a professional license and have been charged with a DUI, it is important to contact an attorney experienced in both DUI defense and professional license defense as soon as possible. The best time to contact that attorney is the day after the arrest because the timeline to challenge the DMV administrative proceeding is very short, and that is where your first line of defense starts.
If you have received an accusation from your board following a DUI conviction, it is not advisable to handle it on your own. Do not think your board is on your side – sorry but it is not. There are many pitfalls in professional license discipline proceedings of which you may not be aware but your experienced professional license defense attorney is. The ultimate discipline decision is usually a result of a stipulated settlement between the board and the licensee. In most cases and with the advocacy of an experienced professional license defense attorney, the discipline following a first-time DUI will be minimal, or in some cases, merely a fine or admonishment.
Orange County attorney William Weinberg will fight to save your driver’s and your professional license. He offers a complimentary consultation to discuss your matter. He may be contacted at his Irvine office by calling (949) 474-8008 or by emailing him at email@example.com.