Nurse with a DUI
Consider this scenario: after a long shift at the hospital, you head out for a few drinks with your co-workers. The next thing you know, you see flashing red lights in your rearview mirror -- and find yourself under arrest, charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
Nurse with a DUIConsider this scenario: after a long shift at the hospital, you head out for a few drinks with your co-workers. The next thing you know, you see flashing red lights in your rearview mirror -- and find yourself under arrest, charged with driving under the influence (DUI).
In California, a DUI conviction can result in stiff penalties. If you’re a nurse, however, you may face additional consequences, including an investigation and discipline by the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN). Understanding your rights, can navigate the complexities of a DUI and Board Action.
California DUI Law: What You Need to KnowUnder California law, there are two ways to get a DUI. First, if your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is at or above the legal limit of .08%, you will be charged with a DUI. Second, even if your BAC is below .08%, you could be charged with a DUI if your ability to drive is impacted by any level of intoxication (by alcohol and/or drugs).
After being stopped on suspicion of driving under the influence, a police officer may ask you to take a roadside breathalyzer test, also known as a preliminary alcohol screening (PAS). The results of this test could then be used to arrest you for DUI. Importantly, unless you are under the age of 21 or currently on DUI probation, this test is optional. (Not to be confused with the evidentiary chemical test, which must be taken.)
Similarly, the officer may ask you to perform field sobriety tests (FST) - but likely won’t tell you that you aren’t required to participate in California. You can decline to do any FSTs, as they can also be used against you. This is important because FSTs are coordination tests, sober drivers can fail for other reasons without being impaired.
If you are arrested, then you will be asked to take a chemical breath or blood test. This can occur at the station or roadside, depending on the arresting agency. Unlike the PAS, you are required to submit to this post-arrest test under California’s implied consent law. A refusal may result in additional penalties, including a one year suspension of your driver’s license by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), and additional allegations that may levy custody time.
A DUI charge has two components: administrative and criminal. After you are charged with a DUI, an officer will typically hand you a pink piece of paper that notifies you that your license will be suspended automatically for a set period of time, unless you request a hearing. At a DMV hearing, you will be able to review and present evidence, to testify, and question witnesses.
During this hearing, your lawyer may be able to challenge various aspects of the stop, arrest, and the results of a chemical breath or blood test. The hearing officer will weigh the evidence, and then make a decision based on the preponderance of the evidence as to whether your license should be suspended.
The DMV hearing is often a critical step in the process of putting together a defense to a DUI. During the hearing, your attorney will get a preview of the government’s case against you and can start to develop factual and legal defenses to the criminal charge.
What Will Happen to My Nursing License If I Am Charged with a DUI?An arrest for a DUI may have a serious impact on your ability to work as a registered nurse.
Because the BRN is tasked with protecting the public by regulating the practice of nurses, it takes matters involving alleged substance abuse very seriously. The outcome of a BRN investigation into a DUI will depend on the circumstances of each case.
Potential disciplinary actions for a DUI conviction include a letter of public reprimand, probation, suspension, or even revocation. The BRN will consider a number of factors in determining what discipline to impose, including the nature and severity of the conduct, total criminal record, time and actions taken since the offense occurred, what the nurse has done while on criminal probation, and whether a petition for expungement has been filed.
With experience handling both DUI charges and professional license defense matters, attorney Nicole Irmer is well-suited to represent nurses charged with DUIs.
Do I Have a Right to Contact My Attorney Before Deciding Whether to Take a Post-Arrest Chemical TestNo. Under California law, drivers do not have a legal right to talk to a lawyer before deciding whether to take a post-arrest chemical test. Similarly, drivers do not have a right to consult with an attorney before deciding between a breath or blood test.
What Issues Can Be Considered at a DMV Hearing?A DMV hearing for a DUI is not the equivalent of a full trial. Instead, it is an administrative hearing, overseen by a Driver Safety Hearing Officer (a DMV employee). The issues that may be considered at a DMV hearing include:
Was there probable cause to make the initial stop?
Was the arrest lawful?
In a refusal hearing, whether the driver was told that refusing to take or complete a chemical test would lead to a one year license suspension?
In a refusal hearing, whether the driver refused to take or complete a chemical breath or blood test after an officer asked them to do so?
Was the driver operating a motor vehicle while their BAC was .08% or higher?
After a DUI arrest, a seasoned DUI defense lawyer can advise you on what you may expect at a DMV hearing.
How Long Do I Have to Request a DMV Hearing?If you are arrested for a DUI, then you will be notified that the DMV intends to suspend your license. You have 10 days from the date of this notice to request a DMV hearing. Otherwise, your license suspension will begin automatically within 30 days of your arrest.