If you are a doctor, nurse, or other licensed medical professional in Arizona, getting arrested for DUI can have significant consequences for your career. Simply being charged with DUI triggers an obligation to report your arrest to your licensing board, and DUI charges could lead to disciplinary action regardless of the outcome of your criminal case.

With this in mind, you need to act quickly. You also need to be very careful. Any mistakes could have drastic and irreversible consequences, and if you aren’t careful, you could end up facing professional disciplinary action (up to and including license revocation) unnecessarily.

5 Important Facts About Facing DUI Charges for Licensed Medical Professionals in Arizona

What do licensed medical professionals need to know about facing a DUI charge in Arizona? Here are five important facts to help you make informed decisions about your next steps:

1. You Must Report Your DUI Arrest to Your Medical Licensing Board

When you get arrested for DUI as a medical professional, you must report your arrest to your medical licensing board. This is a statutory requirement under Section 32-3208.A of the Arizona Revised Statutes:

“A health professional who has been charged with a misdemeanor involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony after receiving or renewing a license or certificate must notify the health professional’s regulatory board in writing within ten working days after the charge is filed.”

Most (but not all) DUIs are misdemeanors; and, while a DUI might not seem to “affect patient safety,” most medical licensing boards in Arizona require that their members report DUI arrests. If you have questions about your reporting obligations, you should speak with a defense lawyer promptly.

2. Failing to Report a DUI Arrest as Required Can Lead to Professional Disciplinary Action

If you don’t report your DUI arrest (and you are required to do so), failure to meet your reporting obligation can lead to professional discipline. Withholding information that you are required to disclose can lead to a finding of “lack of candor” or “unprofessional conduct.” While this isn’t likely to result in license suspension or revocation—especially if this is your first time dealing with the disciplinary process—it can still lead to lesser forms of discipline, and it can lead to enhanced discipline in the future if you need to go before your licensing board again.

3. DUI Arrests Can Trigger Licensing Action Even if They Don’t Result in Criminal Convictions

One of the most important things to understand about facing a DUI as a licensed medical professional in Arizona is that you can face licensing action even if your DUI arrest doesn’t lead to a conviction. Once you report your DUI (or your licensing board discovers your DUI through other means), it will initiate a license investigation to determine whether you present a threat to the public. If it determines that you do, it can impose discipline regardless of whether you are ultimately found guilty of DUI. Not only is the list of issues that can lead to disciplinary action much longer than the list of issues that can lead to a conviction, but the standard of proof in disciplinary proceedings is typically much lower as well. While prosecutors must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, licensing boards typically make disciplinary decisions based on a preponderance of the evidence.

4. DUI Arrests Can Lead to Several Forms of Discipline

Depending on your medical profession and the circumstances of your case, a DUI arrest can expose you to several forms of discipline. This is one area where having experienced counsel comes into play. By working closely with an experienced lawyer, you will be able to make informed decisions about how best to address the risks you are facing, and you will be able to execute a defense strategy focused on mitigating the consequences of your arrest to the fullest extent possible.

Some examples of potential disciplinary actions include:

  • Censures or Reprimands
  • Practice Restrictions or Limitations
  • Probation
  • Stipulated Rehabilitation Agreements
  • License Suspension
  • Permanent License Revocation

Each medical licensing board in Arizona has adopted its own rules, procedures, and forms of discipline—so determining what options are on the table in your case will require a careful evaluation of your circumstances. To ensure that you are making informed decisions, you should discuss your circumstances with an experienced defense lawyer as soon as possible.

5. Even if You Don’t Face Disciplinary Action a DUI Conviction Will Still Negatively Impact Your Medical Career

Another important fact to keep in mind is that even if you can avoid facing disciplinary action, a DUI conviction will still negatively impact your medical career. Losing your job, being suspended, or being placed on probation at work could be a very real possibility depending on your occupation and employer. When pursuing new career paths in the future, your DUI will come up during background checks, and this could prevent you from securing certain opportunities.

Don’t Forget About the Criminal Consequences of a DUI Conviction

While understanding the professional risks associated with facing a DUI is important, it is also important not to overlook the other risks you are facing. Driving under the influence is a serious crime in Arizona, and a conviction can lead to substantial penalties. These can include not only financial penalties and loss of your driving privileges but also jail time. As a result, you must fight your DUI by all means available, and this starts with putting an experienced defense lawyer on your side.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with a Phoenix Defense Lawyer at The Weingart Firm

Are you facing a DUI as a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional in Arizona? If so, we encourage you to contact us promptly for more information. To schedule a free initial consultation with a Phoenix defense lawyer at The Weingart Firm as soon as possible, please call 480-405-7922 or request an appointment online now.