There are many consequences to driving under the influence in California. You could face criminal penalties if the judge convicts you of driving under the influence. However, you could also face collateral consequences in addition to the criminal consequences. If you hold a professional license, a DUI conviction can put you at risk of losing your license or facing professional discipline. Dentists convicted of DUI risk losing their professional dental licenses. If you are a dentist and the police arrest you for drunk driving, contact an experienced professional license defense attorney immediately. The attorney will help you create a solid defense to fight the criminal and administrative charges.

The Consequences a Dentist Can Face Following a DUI Conviction

As a dentist, it is crucial to understand the potential consequences you could face following a DUI conviction.

What are the implications of a DUI conviction for your professional license?

In a worst-case scenario, a DUI conviction could lead to the suspension or revoking of your professional license. You could also face additional disciplinary measures affecting your dental practice or career.

In addition to the negative impacts on their professional licenses, dentists could also face criminal charges for a DUI conviction. The criminal consequences could also affect your dental practice adversely, especially if the court orders you to pay hefty fines or serve jail time. Serving jail time would mean you have to spend some time away from your dental practice, which can negatively affect it.

California DUI Laws That Apply To Dentists

Dentists must adhere to all California DUI laws. The primary DUI law in California is Penal Code 23152. According to this law, it is unlawful for anyone to operate a vehicle:

  • When under the influence of drugs or an alcoholic beverage.
  • While addicted to the use of any drugs.
  • Under the combined influence of both drugs and alcohol.
  • While having a blood alcohol content, abbreviated as BAC, that is above the legal limit.

In California, the legal BAC limit is 0.08% for regular drivers. However, if you are operating a commercial vehicle or a vehicle with a passenger for hire, the allowable BAC limit is 0.04%. You must adhere to much lower BAC limits if you are an underage driver or on probation. In this case, you should not have a measurable amount of alcohol in your system.

Under the California implied consent law, you must submit to a breath or blood test if the police arrest you for DUI. The chemical test measures the alcohol level in your blood. Refusing to submit to a DUI chemical test will lead to an automatic suspension of your driver's license by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The license suspension due to a chemical test refusal will apply regardless of whether you are found guilty of driving under the influence.

The standard penalties that a dentist can face for a DUI conviction include:

  • Paying fines and assessment fees that could amount to thousands of dollars.
  • Serving a jail term or a prison sentence.
  • Probation ranging from three to five years.
  • Attending a DUI School for up to 30 months.
  • Installation of an ignition interlock device, abbreviated as IID.
  • Substance abuse treatment.
  • Mandatory attendance of DUI programs, including hospital and morgue programs and MADD panels.
  • Engaging in community service and adhering to other probation terms.

DUI is a priorable offense under California law. Therefore, you will face harsher penalties if you have a DUI conviction and commit a subsequent offense within ten years. The California Dental Board will also impose harsher penalties. The DUI penalties, including probation, fines, and jail sentences, increase with every subsequent DUI conviction.

Most DUI offenses are misdemeanors under California law. However, you could face felony charges if you commit a DUI offense and kill someone else. You could also face felony charges if you have three prior DUI offenses within ten years. The punishment for a felony DUI is harsher than that for a misdemeanor. You could serve a prison sentence, have your driver’s license revoked, have your professional dental license suspended or revoked, and pay hefty fines.

The Dental Board of California Reporting Requirements For DUI Offenses

Dentists must notify the Dental Board of California if they face charges for misdemeanor or felony offenses. A mere arrest does not trigger an investigation or professional discipline. However, the Dental Board of California investigates when a dentist is convicted of driving under the influence.

As outlined by the California Code of Regulations, abbreviated as CCR, convictions of crimes or indictments of felonies must be reported to the Board. Dentists must report guilty pleas, guilty verdicts, and pleas of no contest to the Board within 30 days. Failing to report a crime to the Board is unprofessional conduct.

When you are convicted of a DUI, you could try to conceal the issue by failing to report the matter to the Board. However, it is best to handle the issue directly by notifying the Board with the help of your attorney. The Board oversees all the dental licenses in California. It can take one or several disciplines against a dentist for a DUI conviction.

The Department Of Justice Issues A Notice Of Arrest To The Dental Board

According to the California Code of Regulations, dentists must submit their fingerprints when they renew their dental licenses if the Department of Justice does not have them. When the Department of Justice has your fingerprints, it will report any conviction to the Dental Board.

DUIs for dentists can affect their careers in several ways. First, the Dental Board could suspend or revoke your license. A suspension or revocation of your dental license could result in the closure of your dental practice. If you are employed, you could be terminated from your dental job. A DUI conviction could also significantly affect a dentist's reputation, resulting in the loss of business. At the very least, a DUI conviction could lead to the suspension of your driver's license and probation. This will still affect your ability to work full-time and adhere to your dental job obligations.  

The Disciplinary Actions That The Dental Board Can Impose

If you are convicted of a DUI in California, the Dental Board can take any of the following actions against you:

  • Issue a citation.
  • Administrative warnings.
  • Administrative fine.
  • Require you to participate in a diversion program.
  • Order you to complete an alcohol abuse treatment program.
  • Community service.
  • Mandatory drug and alcohol screening.
  • Probation.
  • Monitoring and supervision of your dental practice.
  • Temporary suspension of your dental license.
  • Permanent suspension of your dental license.

With the help of an experienced attorney, you can fight a suspension or revocation of your dental license. Your attorney can also help you appeal the Board's decision. You should contact an attorney immediately after receiving a formal accusation due to a DUI conviction.

Your attorney will advise you about your legal rights and guide you through the administrative discipline process. Your attorney could negotiate a suitable Stipulated Agreement with the Dental Board of California. This agreement can be forwarded to the Attorney General's Office to resolve the issue quickly.

Patterns of Alcohol Abuse

A first-time DUI conviction is often insufficient for the Board to revoke or suspend your driver's license. However, if you have a record of alcohol or drug abuse or other alcohol-related offenses, a subsequent DUI conviction can be a sign that you have a pattern or tendency toward alcohol abuse. Disclosing the arrest information or self-reporting to the Dental Board can lessen the consequences of a DUI conviction for dentists.

The Board will likely initiate a disciplinary process if you have patterns of alcohol abuse. You could also face professional discipline if you show warning signs of substance abuse. The warning signs of substance abuse are not limited to multiple DUIs or criminal offenses. For example, reports from staff members, patients, or other parties that witness your substance abuse can be significant evidence. For example, your patients or fellow staff members can point out that you usually smell of alcohol or drugs. The Dental Board can use this information to initiate a professional discipline process against you.

The California Dental Board Treats DUI Seriously

The abuse of alcohol or drugs by a dentist can be dangerous to both the dentist and their patients. Dentists have direct access to prescription drugs, making it easy to obtain controlled substances. Given the potential risks of alcohol or drug abuse by dentists, the Dental Boards take DUI cases by dentists seriously.

You should seek legal representation when you receive a formal accusation from the Board, even if you believe you are innocent. You should not contact an attorney because this is your first DUI conviction. You could lose your dental license even for a first DUI conviction if the Dental Board believes your DUI charge is evidence of substance abuse issues.

You have a right to seek legal representation for administrative hearings. Talk to an attorney experienced in administrative hearings regarding dental professional licenses and disciplinary actions. Even if your case seems straightforward, you should not represent yourself at the administrative hearing. At the administrative hearings, the Attorney General's office represents the Board. Therefore, you will argue against a skilled and seasoned attorney if you choose to go it alone.

The Board’s Enforcement Program

It is important to understand the Dental Board's enforcement program. Knowing what to expect if you face a DUI arrest as a dentist helps you defend against disciplinary actions imposed by the Board. The enforcement program entails:

Receiving A Complaint

The Dental Board can receive complaints from different sources, including staff members, patients, insurance companies, law enforcement agencies, and other relevant parties. Staff members will screen all the incoming accusations and complaints and channel them to the relevant person or division.

Analyzing The Complaint

A team of analysts on the Board will analyze the complaint, including the request records and other relevant details regarding the complaint. The analysts will evaluate the complaint to determine whether you violated the Dental Practice Act.

Inspection Phase

Depending on the allegations outlined in the complaint, the Board could send inspectors to your dental office. The inspectors can issue you a citation or an administrative warning, depending on their findings.

Investigating The Case

The California Dental Board can also assign investigators to your case who will determine whether you violated the Dental Practice Act. The violation can be either administrative or criminal. After completing the investigation, the investigators will issue a comprehensive complaint file. The investors will forward their findings and evidence to the California Office of the Attorney General. The Board then sends a formal accusation to you. You can settle the case with the Board. However, if you do not settle the issue with the Board, your case will proceed to a formal hearing before an administrative law judge. The judge can decide to suspend, revoke, or impose any other disciplinary action.

Probation Period

The California Dental Board can decide to place you on probation, especially for a minor violation. In this case, the Board will not suspend or revoke your professional license due to the DUI conviction. The Dental Board's probation unit will monitor you to ensure you comply with all the probation terms. If you fail to adhere to the probation terms, the Board can suspend or revoke your dental license.

Providing Evidence Of Rehabilitation

Providing evidence of rehabilitation can help you retain your professional license or reinstate it following a DUI arrest. According to California Business and Professions Code Section 482, the Board should develop criteria to evaluate the accused person's rehabilitation.

Some of the factors that the Dental Board can consider include:

  • The severity of the DUI crime, your criminal record, and the time that has passed since you committed the DUI offenses.
  • Your compliance with the DUI probation terms and conditions.
  • Evidence of DUI expungement.
  • Whether you attend counseling.
  • Letters of reference.
  • Remedial education programs.
  • Alcohol or drug treatment programs.
  • Participation in the 12-step program or other relevant programs for alcoholics.

The Board will also consider other relevant evidence of rehabilitation and determine whether it applies to your case. The role of rehabilitation is to ensure that you acknowledge the violation, comply with the DUI penalties, and avoid repeating similar actions in the future.

What To Expect At The Formal Hearing

A formal hearing is different from a criminal court action. A formal hearing is an administrative hearing. An administrative law judge listens to the case, abbreviated as an ALJ. The Attorney General's Office represents the Board and argues the case on behalf of the Board. You have a right to be represented by an attorney at the hearing. With the help of your attorney, you will have the opportunity to present a defense to the allegations against you. At the hearing, your attorney can present evidence of your rehabilitation to mitigate the professional discipline the Board imposes on you.

How You Can Appeal The Dental Board’s Decision

You can always appeal the California Dental Board's decision to revoke or suspend your license. The California Superior Court handles appeals from administrative hearings. You must file the appeal within thirty days of the Board's final decision. If you lose the appeal, you can still petition the Board to reinstate your dental license.

How Long Does A DUI Conviction Stay On A Dentist’s Record?

A misdemeanor DUI offense stays on your record for ten years. However, a felony offense could stay on your record forever. A DUI conviction remains on your criminal record indefinitely. However, you can expunge the DUI conviction so that the DUI record no longer shows on your record, even if someone performs your background check.

The best way to address a DUI charge and protect your dental license is by fighting the DUI charges with the help of an experienced attorney. Your attorney will investigate your case and create a defense strategy that increases the chances of a favorable outcome. If the police arrest you for driving under the influence, consult an experienced attorney. Most attorneys offer no-obligation consultations to discuss your case and advise you on your legal options.

Whether You Can Acquire a Dental License If You Have a DUI Record

Whether you can obtain a professional dental license with a DUI record depends on the offense and other factors relevant to the conviction. The California Dental Board can deny dentists licenses due to past convictions. You should contact an attorney if the Board denies you a license due to a past DUI conviction. An attorney will help you appeal the Board's decision.

Find an Experienced Professional License Defense Attorney Near Me

Facing DUI charges could have adverse effects on your professional license, especially after a conviction. You should contact an experienced attorney immediately when the Board files a formal accusation against you. The Board will have legal representation from the Attorney General's office during the formal hearing. Having a lawyer negotiate on your behalf at the administrative hearing is best. If you need reliable legal representation in Long Beach, contact The Legal Guardian. Contact us at 866-448-6811 to speak to one of our attorneys.