When someone gets charged with driving under the influence (DUI), it can result in a whole host of problems. From potential jail time and a fine to the loss of driving privileges, DUIs have a number of negative consequences. But for those that hold a medical license, however, there can be even more problems. Obviously, it is not in the public's interest for a person who has an issue with chemical dependency to be practicing medicine while the addiction is untreated. At the same time, many people who are not chemically dependent also face DUI charges as the result of a poor choice or error in judgment. A DUI alone is not clear evidence of a problem with drugs or alcohol. But how is the public kept safe?
The Georgia Composite Medical Board
In Georgia, the Georgia Composite Medical Board regulates those who hold a license, certificate, or permit to practice medicine. It also regulates those applying for the privilege of holding a license, certificate, or permit to practice medicine. The Board is composed of 15 United States citizens who are residents of the state of Georgia. Thirteen of the members are actively practicing physicians holding unrestricted licenses to practice medicine. All of the physicians have been practicing at least five years prior to their appointment on the Board.
The Powers of the Composite Medical Board
The Board has certain powers under Georgia Statute § 43-34-5. These include the power to issue, deny, or reinstate licenses, certificates, or permits of duly qualified applicants for licensure, certification, or permits under § 43-34-5 (c) (9). The Board also has the power to “revoke, suspend, issue terms and conditions, place on probation, limit practice, fine, require additional medical training, require medical community service, or otherwise sanction licensees, cert6ificate holders, and permit holders” under § 43-34-5 (c) (10).
There are a number of reasons the Board may choose to deny an applicant seeking a medical license, or discipline someone who holds a license to practice medicine. Some of these reasons could relate to DUI charges. They include:
- Felony convictions. Certain situations can lead to a felony DUI conviction. For example, if someone is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol and they get into a car accident that results in serious bodily injury, this may be charged as a felony. Additionally, if someone is charged with a DUI and there is a child under the age of 14 in the car at the time of the driving conduct, this can be charged as a felony. Finally, if one is charged with their fourth DUI in a ten-year period, this can be charged as a felony. The Medical Board defines “felony conviction” quite broadly, including where there is a finding of guilt, a guilty verdict, a plea of guilty resulting in first offender status, as well as please of nolo contendere, regardless of whether the adjudication of guilt or sentence is not entered or is withheld.
- Issues with the use of alcohol or drugs. When someone becomes “unable to practice pursuant to this chapter with reasonable skill and safety to patients by reason of illness or use of alcohol, drugs, narcotics, chemicals, or any other type of material or as a result of any mental or physical condition,” the Board may refuse an applicant or subject a licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder to discipline.
Specifically, as it relates to the second situation, the board may require an applicant, licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder submit to a physical or mental exam by a physician designated by the board. The results of this exam are admissible in any hearing before the board and can be used against them.
Hearings to Revoke Licenses
The Board has the power to initiate investigations, hold hearings, take testimony, and subpoena witnesses and documents. They can also conduct investigative interviews.
If the Board finds someone is unqualified to be granted a license, certificate or permit, or the Board finds a licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder should be disciplined, they can take any of the following actions:
- Refuse to grant the requested license, certificate, or permit to the applicant
- Put the licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder on probation for a definite period of time with terms and conditions
- Put the licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder on probation for an indefinite period of time with terms and conditions
- Administer a public reprimand
- Administer a private reprimand
- Suspend a person's license, certificate, or permit
- Revoke a person's license, certificate, or permit
- Impose a fine up to $3,000
- Impose a fine in a reasonable amount so as to reimburse the Board for the administrative costs of the investigation and hearing
- Require the passage of a minimum competency examination approved by the Board
- Require Board approved medical education
- Subject the licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder to Board approved mental and physical evaluation.
Additionally, the Board may subject the licensee, certificate holder, or permit holder to probation, where reasonable terms are imposed. The Board has the option of making an adverse finding but withholding imposition of judgment and penalty, or it may impose judgment and penalty but suspend enforcement of the penalty on the condition probation be successfully completed.
When someone has lost their license, certificate, or permit due to alcohol or drug use rendering them unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety, they have the right to demonstrate to the Board, at reasonable intervals, their ability to resume or begin practice with reasonable skill and safety.
Are You a Medical Professional Charged with DUI
If you are a medical professional charged with DUI, our Hall County DUI attorneys can help. We focus our practice exclusively on DUI cases. As such, we have gained the knowledge and experience you need to litigate your case every step of the way. When your license to practice medicine is on the line, why would you hire anyone else? Call today for a free consultation at 404.816.4440.