Registered Nurses and DUI Charges


If you are a Registered Nurse and are facing Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charges, it is possible that you may face administrative discipline with the Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) in addition to criminal charges.  As such, it is important to retain an attorney who is familiar with both DUI defense and the BRN's disciplinary procedures.  

notification of arrest to the brn and the diversion program

If a Registered Nurse is arrested for DUI, the BRN is automatically notified of the arrest by the Department of Justice.  Once the BRN receives notice of the arrest, it is highly likely that the nurse will receive an offer to participate in the BRN's Diversion Program.  The Diversion Program is offered to nurses who may face disciplinary actions on their license for misconduct, such as a DUI. The BRN will most likely make the Diversion Program sound very attractive, as it may result in no action being taken by the BRN against a nurse's license.  However, the Diversion Program is lengthy and draconian, and I generally advise clients not to participate in the Diversion Program. Unsuccessful completion of the Diversion Program can have devastating consequences for a Registered Nurse's license, and the program can be very expensive.  If you do not want to enroll in the Diversion Program, you can simply not respond to the BRN's offer to participate in the program.  

fighting the conviction & notifying the brn of a conviction

The most important thing an attorney can do for a Registered Nurse to avoid license discipline is to zealously fight the DUI charges.  A dismissal of the charges or a not guilty verdict at trial will ensure that any license discipline by the BRN is avoided or minimal.  

If a Registered Nurse has a DUI case that is not appropriate for trial or dismissal (i.e. - the prosecutor's case is very strong - high BAC, etc.), and a plea bargain is reached, notice of the conviction must be given to the BRN within 30 days of the conviction date.  It is highly recommended that, in cases of a plea bargain, Registered Nurses enter a plea of guilty, and not nolo contendre or no contest.  The BRN looks unfavorably upon pleas of no contest as they see them as a failure to take responsibility for your actions.  

the investigation stage

After the BRN is notified of a conviction, the Investigation Process will begin.  The BRN will ask for further information, a statement from the Registered Nurse, and other relevant information. At this point, it is possible to negotiate a settlement with the BRN such that no administrative action will be taken against the Registered Nurse's license.  Such a resolution can prevent any notice of administrative action being put on the BRN's website.  

the citation or formal accusation stage

If a disciplinary matter is not settled during the Investigation Stage, then the BRN may proceed with the filing of a citation (a fine) or a formal accusation.  A citation is less serious than a formal accusation.  A formal accusation generally requests that a Registered Nurse's license be revoked for DUI.  It is absolutely necessary to retain an attorney once a formal accusation is filed.  An attorney can ensure that your case is resolved in the absolute best manner possible after a formal accusation is filed, so as to save your license.  

Mike Donaldson is a Registered Nurse License Defense Attorney located in Temecula, CA.  He defends nurses facing license discipline throughout Southern California.  If you or a loved one are a Registered Nurse facing a DUI charge, think twice before selecting an attorney.  Make sure you select an attorney who understands the BRN licensing side to your DUI case.  


Posted by Mike Donaldson.