Nurses Charged with DUI

When a nurse is charged with driving under the influence (“DUI”), several special problems arise. Under Section 456.072(1)(x), F.S., you must report the charge to the Board of Nursing within 30 days of the day you were found guilty or entered a plea.

You must report the plea regardless of whether you enter a plea of guilty, nolo contendre, or no contest. The plea must also be reported even if the court reduces the charge from DUI to reckless driving and withholds adjudication.

What is the goal in the case when a nurse is charged with DUI in Florida? The goals in the case would include:

  1. contesting the administrative suspension by demanding a “formal review hearing” within ten (10) days of the arrest;
  2. avoiding a DUI conviction by getting the charges dropped or at least reduced to reckless driving (preferably with a withhold of adjudication so the criminal history record can be sealed); and
  3. complying with the reporting requirements by sending the required information to the board of nursing within the 30-day deadline.

Our attorneys are familiar with the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN) requirements and ways to avoid certain time-consuming and expensive requirements that might otherwise occur. We can also help you comply with the reporting requirements for the Board of Nursing.

Remember that disciplinary action can be imposed for failing to report the plea, falling to finish an IPN treatment program (if required), or failing (without just cause) to comply with the IPN contract.

Attorney for Nurses Charged with DUI in Tampa, FL

What should a nurse do after a DUI arrest? First, the nurse needs the best criminal defense attorney to fight the DUI charges. Second, the nurse needs an attorney experienced in representing health care professionals facing disciplinary action.

At Sammis Law Firm, we do both by providing a full-service approach. We can help you find substance abuse treatment options that will help you complete DUI school, satisfy conditions imposed by the Board of Nursing or the Intervention Project for Nurses (IPN), or avoid any IPN requirements.

Click here to read more about our Recent Case Results in DUI Cases.

If you are a Registered Nurse (RN) or a Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) charged with DUI, contact an attorney at Sammis Law Firm to discuss the best ways to fight your case for reduction or an outright dismissal. For a first DUI, you might be eligible for the new DUI diversion program in Hillsborough County, FL.

For a first-time arrest for DUI, it is unlikely a nurse will have their nursing license revoked if a DUI conviction is reported to the board of nursing (although getting the DUI reduced to a less serious charge is important). After an arrest for a second or third DUI, find out why we often recommend self-reporting the incident voluntarily (even though that action is not required).

If you are charged with a DUI involving a breath test, urine test, blood test, or refusal to submit to testing, call us to discuss your case. Find out why we ALWAYS recommend demanding a Formal Review Hearing within the first ten (10) days after the DUI arrest.

Contact us for a free and confidential consultation with an experienced DUI defense attorney in Tampa, FL. We can answer your questions about how the DUI arrest will impact your nursing career and how to avoid career-ending consequences.

Our attorneys understand the regulatory process for complaints made against nurses from the review by the probable cause panel through the final hearing before the DOAH.

Call 813-250-0500.

Reporting a Plea in a Criminal Case to the Board of Nursing

Section 456.072(1)(x) explains the grounds for taking disciplinary action against a nursing license:

(1)(x) Failing to report to the board, or the department if there is no board, in writing within 30 days after the licensee has been convicted or found guilty of, or entered a plea of nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, a crime in any jurisdiction.

Convictions, findings, adjudications, and pleas entered into prior to the enactment of this paragraph must be reported in writing to the board, or department if there is no board, on or before October 1, 1999.

When reporting the plea, your attorney can help you prepare a professional and typewritten letter that attaches all relevant documents, including the discovery, charging document, and a certified copy of the final judgment and sentence.

The letter should describe the date, city and state, charges, and final results. Additionally, the letter should include your description, written in your own words, describing the circumstances surrounding the arrest or criminal accusation.

The disclosure should be sent via a reliable method of delivery that provides tracking and delivers you a receipt. You should also keep a copy of the letter and proof that it was delivered.

Board of Nursing Investigations after a DUI Arrest or Conviction

For nurses, what happens outside the courtroom is almost as important as what happens inside the courtroom. In Florida, the Board of Nursing (BON) monitors nurses with alcohol or substance abuse issues.

The BON reviews complaints, the initial and renewal applications for the nursing license, and handles any disciplinary action against the nurse. A background check will be conducted even for people initially applying for a nursing license. Any criminal charge can lead to a Board Review before the nursing license is approved.

A nurse must report the case to the Board of Nursing if you are convicted of a crime or enter a plea in the courtroom. Sometimes, it is better to report the incident early, especially if you seek substance abuse counseling.

Being proactive often leads to the best results in these cases. Although a first DUI is unlikely to result in a nurse losing their license for a first or second offense outside of five years of any prior conviction or licensure issue, the Board of Nursing can impose certain requirements that require you to undergo an alcohol and drug evaluation and follow up treatment and random drug and alcohol testing.

By being proactive, you can often shorten the period of supervision and get the case closed out more quickly. It is essential to be proactive if your nursing license records show any prior emergency actions, discipline cases, or public complaints.

Types of Crimes that Result in Revocation of the Nursing License

Some types of pleas or convictions will result in a revocation of the nursing license. For example, your nursing license will be revoked if you are convicted of, or enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, any misdemeanor or felony, regardless of adjudication, under 18 U.S.C. s. 669, ss. 285-287, s. 371, s. 1001, s. 1035, s. 1341, s. 1343, s. 1347, s. 1349, or s. 1518, or 42 U.S.C. ss. 1320a-7b, relating to the Medicaid program as explained in Section 456.072(1)(ii), F.S.

Likewise, a revocation of the nursing license will result if you are convicted of, or enter a plea of guilty or nolo contendere to, any misdemeanor or felony, regardless of adjudication, for a crime in any jurisdiction related to health care fraud as explained in Section 456.072(1)(ll), F.S.

How a Nurse Should. Self-Report a Criminal Conviction

Some criminal defense attorneys are unfamiliar with the reporting requirements for a nurse or other licensed health-care professional in Florida after a criminal conviction. The fact that the nurse didn’t know they had to report the criminal conviction to the board of nursing or that their attorney didn’t assist them does NOT alleviate accountability.

After an arrest for a criminal offense, a nurse should read the possible Disciplinary Actions in the Nurse Practice Act – Section 464.018, F.S., and Grounds for Discipline found in Section 456.072(1), Florida Statutes (F.S.).

Visit the website of the Florida Board of Nursing website and the Florida Department of Health to learn more about how to use the Florida Health Care Complaint Portal to self-report a criminal conviction. The Florida Health Care Complaint Portal allows anyone to file a complaint with the appropriate state agency.

The Exemption Application for Nurses

Find out more about how to qualify for an exemption if you hold a valid, active nursing license and are eligible for an exemption.

For healthcare professionals applying for a nursing license, you do not need to fill out the exemption application separately. Instead, you may note in your application that you need an exemption, and the Florida Board of Nursing will handle the issue when it processes the application for licensure.

Florida law prohibits an exemption for any applicant designated as:

  1. any career offender under s. 775.261;
  2. any sexual offender under s. 943.0435 (unless the requirement to register as a sexual offender has been removed under s. 943.04354); or
  3. any sexual predator as designated under s. 775.21.

Remember that you must pay any court fee or fine, lien, civil judgment, cost of prosecution, or restitution as part of the judgment and sentence for any disqualifying felony or misdemeanor in full to qualify for an exemption.

This article was last updated on Tuesday, June 6, 2023.