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Can a DUI Stop Me From Becoming an RN?

Do you dream of a career as a Registered Nurse (RN)? Perhaps you love to help people, or perhaps you’ve always wanted to work in the field of medicine. Regardless of your reasons for wanting to be an RN, surely you take your goals seriously and don’t want anything to get in the way of realizing your career goals, including an arrest for driving under the influence (DUI).

If you were recently arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in Oakland or anywhere else in the East Bay, you’re probably wondering, “How would a DUI affect my nursing career?” and understandably so! A DUI conviction can definitely affect a person’s career, and this applies to many different occupations.

Some ways a DUI can affect a career:

  • It can lead to the denial of professional licenses.
  • A student can be denied entrance to a college.
  • A student can be denied a college scholarship.
  • An athlete can be kicked off a college sport team.
  • A service member can have their rank reduced.
  • A DUI can lead to the denial of security clearance.
  • A DUI can make it so an applicant can’t be in law enforcement, at least until a certain number of years pass.

DUI Convictions for RN Applicants

According to the California Board of Registered Nursing, “All convictions must be reported, except for minor traffic violations. Both misdemeanor and felony convictions must be reported, as well as ‘driving under the influence.’” If an applicant is convicted of DUI and he or she later has it expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4, they would still have to include the conviction on their application.

So, can an applicant still obtain their RN license if they have a misdemeanor or felony DUI on their record? According to the Board, it does review an applicant’s prior convictions, especially those that are closely related to the functions and duties of an RN. For example, if the person had a drug-related DUI, this can be cause for concern because registered nurses come into contact with medications every day.

When it comes to prior criminal convictions, including DUI, the Board reviews the applications on a case-by-case basis. The Board will consider:

  • How long ago was the DUI?
  • How severe was the DUI?
  • Were there any aggravating factors?
  • Do you have prior DUI convictions?
  • What type of rehabilitation have you received?
  • Was it drug or alcohol related?
  • If it was drug-related, what type of drugs were you on?
  • Was it a prescription DUI and if so, was the medication lawfully prescribed?
  • Do you have other criminal convictions, or was it an isolated event?

Will a DUI automatically disqualify you from becoming an RN? No, DUIs do not automatically disqualify people, but a DUI can lead to a denial. The Board cannot promise that someone will be approved or denied a license without evaluating all of the facts of the case, including the application and any supporting documentation provided by the applicant.

If you’re concerned about how a recent DUI can affect your nursing career, contact our firm at once for a free consultation with an Oakland DUI lawyer!

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