Everyone knows that being convicted of driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs comes with serious consequences. Most people know that these consequences include jail time, or, in rare cases, prison time. There is also a fine imposed. Additionally, consequences include being put on probation for a period of time. Finally, there is a revocation of one's driving privileges for a certain prescribed period. However, with nurses, and those who aspire to be nurses, there can be additional consequences directly related to their ability to practice their chosen profession.
Background Information on Georgia DUIs
In Georgia, there are a number of ways one might get a ticket for Driving Under the Influence (DUI). These include any time one is driving or is in physical control of a vehicle and:
- The person is influenced by alcohol or drugs to the extent it is less safe for him or her to drive
- The person is a less safe driver due to inhaling an aerosol, glue, or other vapor
- A combination of drugs, inhalants, and/or alcohol render the person less safe to drive or
- The person's blood alcohol concentration is 0.08 grams of alcohol or more.
Additional factors can make a DUI charge more serious. A person can be charged with a felony DUI if:
- He or she is charged with a fourth DUI within 10 years
- There are children in the car under the age of 14
- The person was involved in an accident that caused serious bodily injury to another person.
The fact that DUI cases can result in felony convictions is particularly important to those who want to enter or remain in the nursing profession.
The Georgia Board of Nursing and Criminal Convictions
Nursing is a profession that requires a license from the State of Georgia. The Georgia Board of Nursing maintains mandatory reporting requirements for certain conduct, including:
- A conviction for a felony offense
- A conviction for a crime of moral turpitude
- Violation of federal drug laws
- Violation of state drug laws
- Crimes involving dangerous drugs.
If an individual holding a nursing license is involved in the above-described conduct, whether in Georgia, another state, a U. S. territory, or another country altogether, he or she must report themselves to the Board. Convictions include guilty pleas, pleas of no contest, and a finding of guilt by a judge or jury after a trial.
The Georgia Board of Nursing and Chemical Dependency
Even though most DUIs do not require reporting under the “criminal convictions” section of mandatory reporting, professional nurses may still be required to report themselves under the chemical dependency requirement. The Board requires reporting of an inability to practice nursing with reasonable skill and safety if this inability is due to the use of alcohol, chemicals, drugs, or narcotics of any kind.
When Reporting Occurs to the GA Board of Nursing
When the Georgia Board of Nursing receives a report, either of a felony DUI conviction, for example, or a report of chemical dependency, it is authorized to take certain steps to investigate the claim. As a preliminary matter, the Board has authority over registered professional nurses, advanced practice registered nurses, licensed undergraduate nurses, licensed practical nurses, and applicants seeking a license in nursing. To provide adequate information about a report, the Board may ask a person under investigation to submit to a medical examination. Unlike typical medical assessments and treatment, a person does not have an expectation of privacy in this medical examination. Nor does he or she have the option of refusing to participate in a medical exam.
When a person applies for and receives a nursing license, they implicitly give consent to submit to a physical or mental medical examination when asked to do so by the Board. The applicant further consents to the Board receiving the results of any medical examination for consideration of an applicant or license holder's fitness for duty.
Refusal to Comply with the Directive to Obtain a Medical Examination
When the Board asks someone to submit to a medical exam, it is doing so in an attempt to consider a person's ongoing fitness for duty. As such, if you refuse to submit to such an exam, the Board will proceed to make a decision without the benefit of the information a medical exam could provide. In these cases, the benefit of the doubt is not afforded to the applicant or licensee.
Of course, an exception is made if the failure to comply with the demand to get a medical examination is attributable to circumstances beyond the applicant's or licensee's control.
When the Board determines a felony conviction, a drug crime, or chemical dependency is an issue, the Board has a number of options to discipline an applicant or licensee. These include:
- Revoking one's license to practice nursing
- Denying one's application for a license to practice nursing
- Issuing a private reprimand
- Issuing a public reprimand
- Suspending one's license to practice for a finite period of time, with conditions that must be met before the license is restored
- Suspending one's license to practice for an indefinite period of time, with conditions that must be met before the license is restored
- Restricting or limiting one's ability to practice nursing in some fashion that allows the person to maintain some ability to practice
- Deferring a consequence or determination of penalty based on an applicant's or licensee's submission to treatment, counseling, or other care as directed by the Board of Nursing
- Fining the person $500, and/or
- Requiring reimbursement of costs for the investigation and the disciplinary proceedings.
If you lose your license to practice nursing or if your ability to practice is limited by the Board, you may, at reasonable intervals, request full reinstatement. If you can demonstrate the ability to resume practicing with reasonable skill and safety, the Board may grant the request.
DUIs Have Serious Consequences in Hall County GA
Even a first time DUI can have serious consequences. An experienced Hall County DUI attorney can help. From examining the legality of the stop to challenging the sufficiency of the test results, our attorneys fight hard for you. Contact us today to discuss how we can help. We offer free consultations.