The Board of Registered Nursing in California pursues discipline in almost every case where a Registered Nurse suffers a conviction for Driving Under the Influence. The Board is authorized to place a nurse on a minimum of three years’ probation for a single DUI, as the Board’s Recommended Guidelines for Disciplinary Orders and Conditions of Probation call for the minimum discipline to be probation terms designed to ensure that the licensee does not consume alcohol. These probation terms are enforced by a Probation Monitor, who requires AA or 12-step meetings, nurse support groups, random drug and alcohol testing, as well as limitations on overtime and employment approval. These terms can be devastating to an RN’s career, but they are the common consequence of DUI convictions, no matter the BAC or the circumstances.
One of our clients came to us after the Board requested to interview him in connection with his DUI arrest and conviction. Following a lengthy interview conducted by the Board’s investigation unit, the client was served with an Accusation and the Board of Registered Nursing sought to discipline his license. The Board’s offer was three years of probation under the terms described above. Following an administrative hearing, where the client presented character witnesses, work evaluations, and substantial rehabilitation evidence, the Administrative Law Judge recommended that the client be publicly reproved under Business and Professions Code section 495. The Board accepted this recommendation, and the client avoided probation and any of the terms described above.
Although this case shows that it is possible, depending on the circumstances, to avoid costly, career-damaging probation, the results of this case do not constitute a prediction or warranty about what might happen to you. No lawyer can offer you a guarantee of success. If you are a registered nurse and you are facing an Accusation or any administrative investigation before the Department of Consumer Affairs, you should contact an attorney to discuss your case.