If you are a licensed professional in California, a DUI charge can have substantial consequences on your professional license. If you have been arrested and charged with a DUI, you could face suspension, probation, or even a revocation of your license, based on the nature of your offense.

If you had submitted your fingerprints when applying for a professional license, they'll be cross-checked when or once you are arrested. The information regarding your incarceration will be shared instantly and made available to your California professional licensing board. There are many other ways in which a DUI charge can affect your professional license in California. This blog goes into detail about this subject.

An Overview of a DUI Conviction in California

DUI laws in California make it illegal for anybody to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or with a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08% or higher. Anyone could be deemed to be "under the influence" if they are considerably changed by alcohol, drugs, or a combination of both. Similar regulations exist in California, which criminalize riding bikes or scooters while intoxicated, as well as boating under the influence (BUI).

Harsher BAC standards can apply to some California drivers. Commercial drivers who are found to have a BAC of 0.04 percent or higher can be arrested and charged for DUI. In addition, California has "zero tolerance" regulations that criminalize minor drivers (drivers below the age of 21) to operate a vehicle with a BAC of 0.01 percent or higher.

Throughout most states, a driver can be prosecuted with DUI when he or she is in "actual physical control" of an automobile while he or she is under the influence. To put it another way, actual driving is necessary but not essential to be found guilty of the offense. However, in California, evidence of operating a vehicle is needed for a DUI conviction. Merely being in actual bodily control is insufficient.

If you are charged with driving under the influence in California, the sanctions you face will be determined by a variety of factors. The details of the case as well as the qualities of the defendant often referred to as "exacerbating and mitigating elements" usually come into consideration whether the DUI conviction is an outcome of a plea deal or a jurors' verdict. However, the maximum and lowest penalties that a court can issue are governed by state statutes.

California Professional Licenses and DUI Convictions

Certain occupations in the state of California, such as insurance agents, nurses, doctors, chiropractors, real estate agents, dentists, and others, require a license to practice. A DUI conviction in California can have serious consequences on your professional prospects.

Regardless of whether you are pursuing a license to practice from a professional licensing board or currently have one, a felony or a misdemeanor conviction can influence your capacity to practice in your preferred profession.

Previously, the legislation has maintained that to warrant disciplinary action, a criminal conviction has to be "substantially linked" to the professional practice in question. Although each licensing authority has its definition of a substantial relation, the laws have evolved to the point where most charges can be regarded as related to an area of practice because they speak on the practitioner's skill, integrity, judgment, and so on.

For applications in healthcare professions, a DUI is often considered substantially linked, and so are drug-related offenses.

A felony or a misdemeanor on your record can lead to the following consequences from authorities that oversee healthcare, such as the Board of Registered Nursing and the Medical Board of California, or authorities that govern more typical business licensing, such as the Departments of Real Estate and Insurance:

  • Your responsibility is to inform the licensing board of the conviction. This can include, but is not limited to, the following:
    • Disclosure during application
    • Disclosure when renewing your professional license
    • In some cases, you have a duty under the statute to disclose the verdict within a certain date
  • The denial of your professional license
  • The licensing Authority or agency will conduct an investigation
  • Disciplinary measures for a previously held license

Licensed Professions That Could Face Disciplinary Action for DUI

Numerous occupations require you to be licensed by the state of California. As a result of a DUI, the following professionals can face disciplinary action:

  • Insurance agents
  • Teachers and other educators
  • Pilots
  • Civil engineers
  • Real estate agents
  • Locksmiths
  • Pharmacists
  • Doctors
  • Therapists in mental health
  • Dentists
  • Nurses, nursing students, and nursing assistants
  • Other hospital and medical personnel

If you have a state-issued professional license, you should consult with a professional DUI defense attorney to see if a conviction can affect your ability to work.

How a DUI Can Affect Your Professional License

Each licensing board treats a DUI conviction differently, and each case is different. The action taken could be determined by several factors. The board will want to know if this is your first offense, whether anybody was hurt, your BAC level, or whether you caused an accident. Even though a DUI conviction is not considered a dangerous or violent offense, your profession could regard it as your image as a responsible person, display of your character, and competence to practice. The following are some of the possible repercussions of a DUI conviction:

  • Probation on administrative grounds
  • Censure or other unfavorable comments on your record
  • Mandatory community service, counseling, or addiction treatment
  • License suspension for a limited time
  • Revocation of your license permanently

Even though you are facing a misdemeanor, you should take the matter seriously because your license can be suspended or terminated. You must navigate the procedure appropriately to protect your professional future and rights.

  • Medical Professionals

The California Medical Board has a long history of dealing with DUI-related issues in the field. A single DUI conviction can lead to a long probation period. Future or aggravated DUI cases will almost surely lead to temporary suspension and could necessitate treatment or counseling.

  • Teachers and Other Education Professionals

Teachers and other educators, like professors and lecturers, are held to high levels of moral fitness. Having a first-time DUI conviction can not lead to disciplinary actions, but a DUI with aggravating circumstances or subsequent DUI could lead to license suspension.

  • Realtors, Insurance Agents, and Other Professionals

While a DUI might not result in obligatory disciplinary action, it could subject the professional to an investigation. The licensing Board has the power to revoke or suspend your license if the Board believes your violation was significant enough to reflect negatively on the profession.

  • Licensed Vocational Nurse

The California Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians (BVNPT) will investigate once an internal complaint has been submitted as a result of a DUI arrest. They get the option to choose either an official or informal disciplinary measure.

A citation could be used as informal discipline, but this will rely on the skill of your attorney who assisted you with disclosure. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the licensing board could choose to revoke or suspend your professional license as a result of a DUI conviction.

  • Law Enforcement

Officers who are convicted of DUI are handled internally by police departments. The punishments and fines that guilty officers face vary according to their records and the facts of each case.

  • Students and Prospective Applicants

DUI can affect anyone planning to pursue a licensed profession, such as medical or law students. For instance, prospective employers and licensing boards would not employ or license you if you have a history of DUI convictions on your criminal record.

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) Holders

For a first DUI conviction, commercial drivers face a one-year suspension on their Commercial Driver's License in addition to the suspension of their driving license. If a commercial driver’s license holder was arrested while carrying hazardous chemicals, his or her CDL will be suspended for up to 3 years. A subsequent DUI conviction results in a lifetime suspension.

  • Pilots

A pilot must notify the Federal Aviation Administration of his or her DUI conviction as well as a driver's license suspension within 60 days. On account of liability issues, a DUI can result in termination.

Strategies to Help You Overcome Professional License Issues Caused By a DUI Conviction

While you might be unsure of how to defend yourself if your license is suspended or revoked, taking these measures can help you save your professional reputation and license.

Seek Legal Assistance

A skilled DUI defense attorney can mount a solid defense strategy to help you regain your credibility and image while also preserving your professional license.

Report a DUI Conviction

Regardless of whether your license board follows the policies of investigation and disciplinary measures, you are still obligated to disclose your DUI conviction to the appropriate body.

Obey Restrictions

Driving privileges could be canceled if your license is suspended. However, adhere to any additional restrictions to avoid more penalties.

Exhibit Good Character

Do not be afraid to engage in rehabilitative activities such as treatment programs or community service, since this will help you create a good reputation.

Professional license revocation or suspension is a severe and terrible position to be in. You will have hurdles in overcoming and progressing beyond this stigma, making it more critical that you conduct responsibly to regain trust and advance in your profession.

The Disciplinary Procedure for Drug or DUI Charges

Most state regulations follow a similar approach for evaluating and imposing disciplinary measures. These procedures can differ slightly by jurisdiction and profession, but if you're accused of DUI charges, you should expect your state board to take the following steps:

  • The Investigation

When the licensing board learns about the DUI conviction, either from the law enforcement, the court, or yourself, they will investigate to gather more information about the arrest or conviction. This can require you to submit a written or oral account of what occurred, review records from the police, and assess court documents. Interviewing of witnesses could also be done.

  • Order of Consent

The board can propose to discuss a consent agreement with you as an alternative to a formal hearing after considering the facts underlying your DUI conviction. A consent order is a legally binding contract between you, the licensing authority, and the state in which you acknowledge misconduct and willingly agree to take the disciplinary actions imposed.

  • Formal Hearing

If no agreement order is provided or accepted, the case proceeds to a formal hearing. This can be held in front of the licensing board panel or a courtroom before an Administrative Law Judge.

  • Final Verdict and Action

Following the formal hearing, the state board decides the adverse measures it will take against your license.

  • Appeal

You have a right to appeal the adverse ruling to your state's appellate courts, although due to the high cost, this is normally suggested if gross mistakes occur during the disciplinary procedure.

How an Attorney Can Help You

Being prosecuted for a crime doesn't guarantee that you will be found guilty. The same applies to a DUI. Remember, the prosecutor bears the burden of proof in a DUI case, and must prove the following:

  • You were in control of the car at the time of the offense
  • At the time of your violation, you were intoxicated or under the influence of substances
  • Your blood alcohol level or drug level was higher than the legally permitted limit
  • If a prosecutor fails to back up any of these statements with proof, then, you can't be prosecuted

Based on the facts surrounding your arrest, a competent DUI attorney can devise a defense plan to have the charges on you dropped, dismissed, or lessened to the maximum extent.

The following are the most popular DUI defense strategies in California:

  • The police lacked probable grounds to halt or arrest you
  • While arresting you, the officer forgot to read you the Miranda rights
  • You performed poorly or were unable to do field sobriety tests owing to a mental or physical condition, not because you were intoxicated
  • The breathalyzer had not been correctly calibrated
  • You have a medical issue that caused you to get a false BAC result
  • Blood testing protocols were not observed, and the sample was not preserved appropriately

FAQ on DUI and Professional Licenses

Here are some of the common questions regarding DUI and your professional license.

Why Does My DUI or Drug Arrest Have Anything to Do with My Medical License? Why Does It Matter to the Licensing Board?

A DUI/drug charge shatters the public's trust. A professional license is essentially a contract binding you to the public, and the licensing agency endorses you as someone who can be entrusted in your field. Any criminal record implies a breach of such trust in many fields. DUIs and drug charges, for instance, are viewed as a violation of public trust by the majority of people since they undermine your reputation and impact negatively on your judgment. In this case, the licensing authority must investigate to evaluate whether you can still be trusted as a professional.

Can A DUI or Drug-related Conviction From Another State Harm My Current State's Professional License?

Yes, it is possible. Any criminal records become part of your public record. Therefore, if a licensing authority in another state conducts a criminal record check, the DUI will almost certainly be revealed. Most regulatory agencies also require you to reveal any criminal records when applying for your professional license while it is valid.

If the authorities find out you were charged on drug or DUI charges in another state and failed to mention it, your professional license could be suspended. Similarly, if you're convicted of a DUI offense in one state and licensed in another, then the state agency that awarded your license could still take action against you.

Will My License Still Be Valid if I Am Arrested For DUI or Drug-related Crimes but not Convicted?

It varies because the licensing boards view an arrest as a representation of your moral standing in society and a threat to your trustworthiness, that's why they require even arrests to be reported. In California, reports on arrests to licensing boards are automatic, even if no arrests are made.

In other cases, the licensing board could be solely concerned about DUI cases, and in most cases, you might not even be compelled to self-report DUI charges until it results in a conviction. Moreover, a conviction is more weighted than an arrest. So, if your professional licensing authority does probe an arrest, odds are the penalties will be less severe (perhaps verbal warning) if the allegations are dropped with no convictions.

Ultimately, it can be hard to predict whether a DUI charge alone or an arrest will trigger disciplinary measures from your state licensing board. In addition to hiring an attorney for your DUI or drug-related charges, you also would want to seek advice from a professional license attorney in case your arrest affects your license.

Find a Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me

California's Licensing Boards function under standards that govern how practitioners should conduct themselves. The board's purpose is to preserve and enhance the public's well-being, giving licenses and permitting only those who are qualified to keep them. Even if you've worked for 8 years to get a medical license, you could lose it if you violate the ethical norms.

If you are facing license revocation or suspension for a DUI conviction, you should seek the advice of an experienced professional license defense attorney. Your attorney will assist you in understanding the licensing board and court systems so that you can make the best legal decision. At The Legal Guardian, we will provide you with the legal advice and assistance you require to fight license suspension or revocation in Long Beach, CA. Call us at 888-293-0396 right away.