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The personal and professional cost of a nurse’s DUI

On Behalf of | May 25, 2023 | Criminal Defense

In Rhode Island, nurses must understand the seriousness and consequences of a drunk-driving conviction. Beyond the legal system, nurses can face disciplinary action from their employers and nursing boards. A drunk driving conviction can be devastating for a nurse personally and professionally, and it’s essential to understand the potential outcomes.

Legal consequences

Many people fear the legal consequences after being stopped for driving under the influence (DUI). Nurses face the same punishments as anyone else, including time in jail, fines, license suspension or revocation, court costs and mandatory drug or alcohol treatment. A law enforcement officer can also impound their vehicle.

Nursing Boards

Nursing boards and others entrust nurses with the well-being of patients, and a DUI conviction raises concerns regarding their judgment, reliability and ability to provide safe care to others. A critical consequence of a DUI conviction for nurses is the nursing boards’ discipline.

State laws vary, but generally, nursing boards may place a nurse on probation or suspend or revoke their nursing license. If allowed to continue working, the nurse may be required to work under direct supervision, depending on the circumstances of their DUI conviction.

Self-reporting a DUI

Nursing boards require nurses to self-report a DUI, usually within 30 days of a conviction. Law enforcement or others may inform the nursing boards of the conviction, and if a nurse attempts to conceal their DUI from the nursing boards, they could receive even more strict disciplinary actions. A nurse can object to disciplinary action and request an administrative hearing with the nursing boards to see if they can retain their license.

Some states will revoke a nurse’s license after one DUI, while others may allow multiple DUIs before permanently revoking a nursing license.

Employer policies

An employer may have its own policies regarding nurse DUI convictions, and their guidelines may include suspension, termination or another form of disciplinary action.

Nurses must prioritize safety for themselves and others, especially when deciding whether to get behind the wheel after using alcohol or drugs. The consequences of potentially losing a nursing license can mean the loss of a livelihood.