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How A DUI Conviction Can Affect Your Professional License

The most recent report available from the California DMV indicates that over 160,000 people were arrested for DUI (Driving Under the Influence) in 2013. Drinking and driving is a serious issue, and many otherwise law-abiding and productive members of society get behind the wheel after they’ve had a few glasses of wine with dinner or some after-work beers with colleagues. If you’ve been arrested for DUI, it’s imperative that you contact a defense attorney in Los Angeles as soon as you can.

Driving under the influence has been given significant media exposure, maybe more than any other crime. As a result, you’re probably well aware of the potential consequences of a DUI conviction – fines, suspension of your driver’s license, probation, and maybe even jail time.  But did you know that a DUI conviction can possibly affect your career? This often comes as an unpleasant surprise to many people and is especially shocking when they are trying to put their life back together and move on.

In this day and age of online, electronic databases, regulatory agencies can easily find about your DUI conviction, even if you aren’t obligated to report it to them. And while it may seem like a DUI has no bearing on your abilities as a physician or an accountant, licensing agencies broadly interpret their guidelines to allow them to penalize their licensees for anything they deem to be unprofessional conduct.

Licensed Professions that May Be Subject to Disciplinary Action

There are many, many professions that require you to be licensed by the state of California.  Here is a partial list of professionals who may face disciplinary action as a result of a DUI:

  • Teachers and other educators
  • Lawyers
  • Accountants
  • Insurance agents
  • Civil engineers
  • Real estate agents
  • Pilots
  • Locksmiths

It’s surprising to see some of those professions on the list, such as locksmiths.  However, locksmiths are required to keep a clean record, and so a DUI conviction may cause serious professional issues.

There are also a number of professionals in the medical and healthcare fields that may be subject to discipline:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses, nursing students, and nurse assistants
  • Pharmacists
  • Dentists
  • Mental health therapists
  • Other hospital and medical personnel

If you hold any kind of professional license issued by the state, you should talk to a Los Angeles DUI defense lawyer about whether a conviction could impact your ability to work.

Possible Professional Consequences Resulting from a DUI Conviction

Every licensing Board handles a DUI conviction differently, and every case is unique. There are a variety of factors that could determine the action taken – whether this is your first offense, whether anyone was injured, your BAC, or whether you were involved in an accident.  And even though DUI is not considered a violent or serious offense, your profession may consider it a reflection on your character, your reputation as a responsible person, and your fitness to practice. Here are some of the potential consequences you may be facing as a result of a DUI conviction:

  • Censure or other negative remarks on your record
  • Administrative probation
  • Mandatory community service, counseling, or treatment for addiction
  • Temporary suspension of your license
  • Permanent revocation of your license

While it may be likely that your license will be suspended or revoked in very serious cases, you should still take the matter very seriously even if you’re facing a misdemeanor charge.  It’s important that you navigate the process correctly to protect your rights and your professional future.

Medical Professionals

The Medical Board of California has a lengthy history of dealing with DUIs in its profession.  A single DUI can result in a lengthy probation period. Subsequent DUIs or aggravated DUIs will almost certainly result in at least a temporary suspension and may require counseling or treatment.

Teachers and Other Education Professionals

Teachers and other education professionals are required to meet a high standard of moral fitness.  A simple first-time DUI may not result in discipline, but multiple DUIs or a DUI with aggravating circumstances could result in suspension of your license.

Insurance Agents, Realtors, and other Professionals

While A DUI might not result in mandatory disciplinary action, it can subject you to scrutiny, and the Board may have authority to suspend or revoke your license if the Board deems that your offense was serious enough to reflect poorly on the profession.

Students and Future Applicants

These concerns are especially important for anyone who plans to enter a licensed profession, such as law students or medical students.  A prior DUI conviction may make getting your license difficult, and may even result in your application being denied. The licensing board will probably look at the circumstances surrounding the offense and the length of time that has passed between the conviction and your application.  If you’re considering obtaining any kind of professional license and have a DUI conviction or are facing charges, a lawyer can give you the best chance to avoid having your application denied.

Other Considerations

While DUI rates have been falling across the nation, the numbers are still quite high. Some believe that the ease of ridesharing services such as Uber or Lyft have helped reduce the number of DUIs.  If you plan on drinking, plan on not driving – call a cab or get the Uber or Lyft app installed on your phone.

It’s also important to keep in mind that DUIs aren’t limited only to alcohol. You can also be charged with DUI while driving under the influence of drugs. Marijuana is a particular concern even though it is now legal.  In addition, you should be aware that your profession’s licensing Board may treat a DUI due to marijuana use differently from a DUI due to drinking, especially if drug use is prohibited.

If You’re Facing DUI Charges, Call a Los Angeles DUI Defense Lawyer Today

If you’ve been charged with DUI, you should talk to a lawyer immediately. Don’t think that if you cooperate with law enforcement or the prosecutor that they will be lenient. They will want you to admit your guilt and ignore circumstances related to your case that may be favorable. They want to get a conviction as quickly as possible, and they are likely to seek harsh penalties if you do not have a lawyer on your side. An experienced California defense attorney will help ensure that you get a fair outcome if he or she can’t get the charges dismissed.

In addition to legal representation in the criminal justice system, a criminal defense lawyer can also help you with any issues related to your professional license. A lawyer can help you understand the regulations governing your profession, the possible penalties, and the likely outcomes. He or she can then help you formulate a strategy and a defense and then represent you in any disciplinary proceedings that follow.

Contact a Los Angeles DUI Attorney for Help

Again, DUI is not considered a violent or serious crime, but it is still a very serious matter. The legal consequences of the criminal case can be very serious. Don’t make a bad situation worse by failing to consider the possible impacts on your license and career. Hiring a lawyer will not only help you get the best outcome possible but is also a wise investment in your personal and professional future.

The attorneys at The Law Offices of David S. Chesley have the knowledge, skills, and the experience to help you with your case – both in and out of the courtroom. Call us at 800-755-5174 or email us today if you would like a free consultation.