DUI and Criminal Convictions’ effect on nursing licenses, and the duty to report to the State Board of Registered Nursing.

May 14, 2009

Did you know that in Nevada and California a first time criminal conviction for driving under the influence, or other misdemeanor, can lead to disciplinary action by the State Board of Nursing? 

Both the State Boards of Nursing in Nevada and California may view a conviction of D.U.I., and certain other misdemeanors, as “unprofessional conduct” under each state’s Nurse Practice Act. [Nev.: NRS 632.120, 632.320, NAC 632.890; Cal.: Bus. & Prof. Code 2761(f), et. al.]. Both Nevada and California have adopted regulations requiring nurses to submit fingerprints when applying for, or renewing, a nursing license. The State Boards are now receiving information regarding prior convictions of licensees. The Boards review matters on a case-by-case basis, and consider several factors when evaluating an appropriate course of action, including, but not limited to: the nature and severity of the act; the harm to public; the harm to patient; the prior criminal &/or disciplinary history; any time elapsed between convictions &/or Nurse Practice Act violations; any mitigating circumstances; and any, rehabilitation evidence. 

Often times criminal attorneys, under a mistaken impression, instruct a nurse that he/she need not disclose misdemeanor convictions on their RN License/Renewal Application — this is incorrect. Nevada and California require nurses to disclose all “criminal convictions”  which include misdemeanors such as D.U.I. If a nurse is convicted of a misdemeanor and fails to disclose that on the License Application, the Board of Nursing may Deny or Revoke a license for fraudulent application. [N.R.S. 632.320; Cal.: Bus. & Prof. Code 2761(b)].

Other states have legal precedent indicating that a D.U.I. is not “unprofessional conduct relating to the practice of nursing” based on the particular facts of a nurse’s situation, which may be utilized by an attorney to help protect a nurse’s license after a conviction. [See: In the Matter of Charles S. Phillips, Docket No. 507-05-6929 [Texas]; Ross v. State Board of Nurse Examiners, Docket No. 507-06-0911 [Texas]. You should consult a nurse-attorney regarding the specific facts of your matter, and the laws of your state, to determine the best course of action for your particular situation.  

What should a nurse who is convicted of a D.U.I., or other misdemeanor, do? Consult an attorney specializing in State Board of Registered Nurses licensing & disciplinary matters. Depending on the time, type and factual basis of a conviction, various options are available to the nurse. The worst thing a nurse can do is fail to disclose a criminal conviction and hope that the Board does not find out.

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