7 most frequently asked questions from CA nurses with a recent DUI arrest
1.Q: I am an RN who just got arrested for a DUI, what should I do to best protect my CA RN license?
A: You should hire an attorney to represent you at the criminal level with the DUI who understands how this DUI is going to impact your nursing license. There are literally thousands of DUI lawyers in CA… you can pick one off any freeway billboard in any city in CA and he may be great for defending the average Joe’s DUI. But you are not average. Registered nurses with a recent DUI arrest have a lot more at stake than Joe does. Choose a DUI lawyer who also represents RN’s licenses with the BRN. This will give you the best possible chance of success in keeping your RN license following a DUI and mitigating the discipline you will face.
2.Q: I am an RN who just got arrested for a DUI, when do I need to tell the BRN? When do I need to tell my employer?
A: You do not need to tell the BRN about the arrest. Let me say that one more time, You do not need to tell the BRN about the arrest. However, you must tell the BRN about the conviction and you have a very slim time frame in which to do so, or face an unprofessional conduct charge. You should also not tell you employer about the arrest, or anyone else for that matter. An arrest is an arrest, meaning anything you say following the arrest is admissible against you as evidence. Please do not make it harder on your attorney by talking about it and making unwitting statements. You will eventually have to disclose this to your employer if a.) it is part of their own policy, 2.) it is going to become public anyway…. But that determination is best made by you and your lawyer down the road.
3.Q: How should I tell the BRN about the DUI?
A: Like I said before, you only disclose the conviction, not the arrest. It is by far better to disclose when required and disclose the right information without disclosing too much. This means that you should have an attorney assist you in the disclosure. Done properly, even a DUI conviction can result in a Cite and Fine from the BRN, in lieu of a formal accusation and this service is very inexpensive in comparison to legal retainers for Hearings and Settlement Negotiations.
4.Q: I am an RN who just got arrested for a DUI, when does the BRN find out about it? Does the BRN notify my employer about the DUI?
A: The BRN knows about the arrest within a day, if not within hours, of the arrest. Remember those Livescan fingerprints you had to have done? This is why. As soon as your little fingers get printed at the jail, the Department of Justice, or DOJ notifies the BRN. That is why it is so important to properly disclose the conviction to the BRN, because there is a 99.8% chance that they know about it anyway. That 0.02% chance that they don’t know about the arrest, is precisely the reason you don’t disclose the arrest itself.
The BRN does not go tattle on you to your employer. Your employer will only find out if the BRN makes the DUI public in the form of an Accusation and if they have signed up for notifications through the Breeze system or do a random licensing audit.
5.Q: I am an RN who just got arrested for a DUI, when does the BRN contact me?
A: Your first contact from the BRN will be within a few weeks of the arrest itself and will come in the form of a Diversion Letter. I won’t get into the pitfalls of the Diversion program here. You can read about the BRN’s Diversion program elsewhere on this blog; I will say that you should not respond to this letter unless you are 100% positive you are joining the diversion program. If you never receive an offer from Diversion (lucky you, by the way), then you may receive a citation and fine or an accusation. You may also be contacted by an Investigator in rare cases. These will all occur 3-9 months following the conviction. The Diversion letter is the only communication you will receive from the BRN just following the arrest, but prior to disclosure.
6.Q: I am an RN who just got arrested for a DUI and I received a letter from the BRN Diversion Program, do I have to reply? What should I do?
A: No, you do not have to reply. Yes, I know it says that if you do not reply they will investigate or turn the matter over to enforcement for action against your license. This is a scare tactic as they won’t do anything until your criminal case is wrapped up. I assure you, you do not have to reply, nor should you if you’ve decided that Diversion is not right for you. Diversion is voluntary to join and a veritable prison sentence once you’re in. Please do your research. Call me, I will be happy to explain but do not call them to explain. RN’s get “accidentally” enrolled and the RN license will be immediately inactivated, so best to just ignore them.
7.Q: I am an RN who just got arrested for a DUI, what are the time frames that I can expect moving forward?
A: Let your DUI attorney, again- preferably someone who also understands the BRN and RN licenses, direct the criminal case. Lawyers often request continuances, delay appearances, etc. and they have their reasons, so let them employ their best strategies. 9 times out of 10 it is best to drag the process out anyway, especially for nurses so that you can begin building your BRN case from the get go.
Upon conviction, and depending on the type of conviction, you will have to disclose to the BRN. This must occur within 30 days. Again, please do not do this on your own. Should you hire an attorney to assist you later, no amount of brilliant lawyering is going to fix the mistakes you made by doing the disclosure yourself.
Once the conviction has been disclosed it will take apx 4-6 months to receive a citation and fine, if that is the discipline the BRN has imposed.
If the BRN is going to file an Accusation, this takes 6-12 months, and sometimes longer.
If you are one of the many nurses with a recent DUI arrest and your primary concern is protecting your RN license from revocation or severe disciplines like license suspension or all 19 Probation Requirements, please give me a call. I know how much your RN career means to you and I will do everything I can to help you keep it. We have helped thousands of California RN’s defend their RN Licenses following a DUI arrest, and to date, we have a 98% success rate in saving RN Licenses of nurses with a recent DUI from revocation or suspension for first time RN DUI’s.