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How To Protect Your Physician Or Healthcare License When Receiving A DUI

Getting a DUI is a stressful and potentially life changing event. When you are a healthcare professional, it adds an extra layer of complexity and risk due to the collateral consequences resulting from a conviction. If DUI charges are not properly handled, then there is a very real chance that a healthcare professional facing these charges will suffer not only the criminal consequences of their actions but also the professional ones.

Healthcare practitioners convicted of drunk driving run the risk of having their medical license suspended or revoked, as well as their career and reputation forever tarnished. Working with a lawyer experienced in healthcare law and licensing is strongly recommended. This can prevent otherwise avoidable damage to a healthcare practitioner’s livelihood and will ensure the best possible legal outcome.

Consequences of a DUI

As mentioned above, medical professionals face an additional level of risk from a drunk driving conviction. The Florida Department of Health as well as professional licensing boards view healthcare professionals with a DUI or DWI conviction to be public risks. These licensing boards are numerous and include the State Board of Medicine, Board of Nursing, Board of Dentistry, Board of Pharmacy and Board of Chiropractic Medicine. The fines, sanctions and punishments for a healthcare practitioner are significant, and are in addition to any criminal penalties normally associated with a DUI offense. These include:

  • A minimum fine of $500, all the way up to $10,000
  • A probationary period
  • Medical license revocation, including licenses from other states
  • Drug and alcohol testing
  • Required counseling or recovery program attendance
  • A formal letter of concern placed in a providers permanent file
  • Termination of employment
  • Significantly increased difficult in seeking future employment

What specific sanctions and fines are levied by licensing boards and agencies is largely dependent on the offender’s previous history as well as the circumstances surrounding the offense. The primary factors considered are:

  • Any prior criminal history
  • Any prior disciplinary action by a licensing board
  • Rehabilitation efforts that may have taken place
  • Whether restitution is being paid
  • If the offender is going through a financial hardship
  • The seriousness of the offenders substance abuse problem
  • What deterrent effect the penalty imposed will have
  • The actual damage caused as a result of the violation

What You Should Do

Many times when a healthcare practitioner has received a DUI conviction, they believe the best course of action is to contact impairment programs such as the Professionals Resource Network (PRN) or Health Professionals Recovery Program (HPRP). While these programs may help to protect their professional license from discipline, they are quite invasive and also expensive. Additionally, they may not be able to prevent formal disciplinary action from the licensing boards.

Because of this, it is strongly suggested to reach out to an attorney specializing in healthcare licensing and compliance before reporting any drunk driving charge or conviction to the relevant medical board. When choosing an attorney to represent you, you’ll need an attorney that’s licensed in the state where you were arrested; ideally, the attorney should specialize in DUI cases within that state. For example, in certain states such as Michigan, the penalties for DUI’s are rather harsh and it can stay on your driving record permanently.

An experienced attorney will know how best to report the offense and how to place a healthcare professional in the best position possible when they go before the board.

In the event that a healthcare provider has already reported their DUI to the board and received notice of action against their medical license, it is very important that they contact a lawyer as soon as possible. There are still options available, however it is crucial that further communication with the board and/or investigator is guided by a professional licensing attorney in order to reduce any further damage.

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