The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians, like all state healing arts agencies such as the Board of Registered Nursing and the Medical Board of California, takes the requirements of its probation program very seriously. In 2021, we were able to represent an LVN who tested positive for cocaine while under the supervision of the LVN’s probation program. The Board had the positive drug test and the expert witness testimony of the president of the laboratory and testing company who conducted the test.

The nurse explained to us the circumstances of the accidental exposure. The client’s explanation to the probation monitor (which had to be provided immediately under the terms of probation) was consistent with the explanation to our office. The Board elected to pursue a Petition to Revoke Probation against our client and was unwilling to entertain settlement. We defended the client at an administrative hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings.

At hearing, our client again testified credibly. The client’s supervisor testified as a witness on her behalf. The Board’s expert admitted, during cross examination, that the circumstances of the ingestion of cocaine, as explained by the client, were unusual but possible. The Administrative Law Judge found the exposure to be an outlier and, rather than revoking the license and ending our client’s career, extended the probation for one additional year. The client was able to return to work.

Even when the agency refuses to accept a client’s explanation, that does not mean that the client is lying or that the client will not be believed by an Administrative Law Judge. This case illustrates the principle that consistency and employer support are important pillars of a license defense case, even when the situation looks impossible to defend. We were proud to represent this client and help them continue to safely practice nursing. Ray & Bishop defends nurse licenses against allegations of substance abuse.