Three Parts of a DUI for a RN
Most people only have to deal with the DUI and the DMV when they get arrested for a DUI, as if that wasn’t enough, but a Registered Nurse must deal with a third issue: The BRN. There are three moving parts to every DUI for a RN, the criminal portion, the driver’s license portion and the RN license portion.
CRIMINAL- THE DUI
People who get DUIs do not think of themselves as “criminal”, but unfortunately, that is how the courts now view you. A DUI is also probably the only criminal trouble you will ever find yourself in and for good, typically law abiding people this is a terrifying concept. Also, most people do not drive when they know they are above the legal limit, so it a DUI is certainly an unintentional crime. The majority of DUIs that our attorneys see are in the .12% to .16% BAC or blood alcohol level and this can occur with just one too many drinks! If you are a RN and have just been arrested for a DUI, here is what you can expect.
NOTICE TO APPEAR- the arraignment
When you are released following your DUI arrest, you will be given 2 pieces of paper, one of which is the Notice to Appear. This often looks like a traffic ticket but it is your first court date, or your arraignment date. Typically, you do not have to even be present at the arraignment, but that will be up to your attorney. All that occurs at your arraignment is that you or your attorney enter your plea of either guilty, not guilty, or no contest. Literally, that is it. You have 3 choices of statements to give the judge; no presenting evidence, no arguments of any kind, just those 3 choices. If you plead guilty or no contest, you will be sentenced and the matter will be over then. No contest to a DUI means the exact same thing as guilty- it means you do NOT CONTEST the charges. If you plead not guilty, your attorney will be able to negotiate with the courts on your behalf. This is always the plea we enter at the arraignment.
Negotiations with the DA or Pre-Trial Conferences
By entering a plea of not guilty, your attorney will be able to argue for a better deal for you, rather than the standard first offender DUI sentencing. This is critical and essential if there is ANY chance of getting the charges reduced to a wet and reckless. Even if your BAC is too high to reasonably negotiate a wet and reckless, it is still beneficial to allow your attorney to negotiate with the DA. We are typically able to reduce fines and penalties, eliminate interlock devices, and to date, our attorneys have been able to eliminate any and all jail time.
If the DUI case proceeds to trial, you will actually have to appear and you may have to appear for sentencing. These are likely the only times you would have to come to court. We do our best to avoid trial for our clients and only proceed to trial if it is essential. The costs associated with trial can be exorbitant and are usually better reserved for defending your RN license with the BRN.
TIME TRAME FOR THE DUI
The entire criminal process for a DUI can take 6 months or more. This is not something that happens immediately and during the criminal process, you should not say anything to anyone about the pending criminal charges. Remember that cliché term from all the court dramas: “innocent until PROVEN guilty”-this is why you stay quiet. You do not need to disclose the DUI arrest to the BRN or your employer UNLESS your employer has a specific policy pertaining to disclosing arrests. Your attorney can help you determine this.
DMV- YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE
The other piece of paper you will get upon release is a pink Temporary Driver’s License. You only have 10 days from the date of the DUI arrest in which to schedule a DMV hearing. DMV hearings are important because just like the criminal DUI portion, it gives your attorney the opportunity to negotiate a better deal for you and almost always reduces the amount of time that your driver’s license will be suspended.
DMV hearings are notoriously difficult to “win,” meaning that your driver’s license will not be suspended at all, but unless you are a big fan of bicycles, Uber or public transit, you will want your driving privilege restored as soon as possible. In virtually every case, our attorneys are able to reduce the length of hard suspensions and get you a provisional license earlier- enabling you to drive to and from work.
THE BRN- YOUR RN LICENSE
Of all three moving parts to a DUI, for a nurse, this is usually the most frightening. In fact, this is probably the first thought you had when you were getting pulled over, “Oh my gosh, my RN license is going to be revoked!!! I”ll never work again, what will I do?!?!?” This is a reasonable fear, as thousands of nurses lose their RN licenses following a DUI, but it does NOT have to be this way. In fact, for our clients, it is NEVER this way. We’ve never had a client lose their RN license for a DUI, not ever.
About 2 weeks following the arrest, you will probably get contacted by the BRN’s Diversion or Intervention program because they’ve received notice of your arrest via your Livescan fingerprints. They will accuse you of being an alcoholic and violated the nurse practice act by driving under the influence and the will try to get you to enroll in the Diversion or Intervention program. This is only a decision you can make, so please make sure to research the pros and cons of diversion on this blog, there is a novel’s worth of info you will not find elsewhere.
You are required to disclose your DUI to the BRN. However, you are not required to disclose your arrest. Again: You are required to disclose your DUI to the BRN. You are not required to disclose your arrest. Why the emphasis? Because there is always the chance (albeit a snowball’s) that the DUI charge gets dropped, or that the officer botched the arrest, or that the info never makes it to court, and if this is the case, then you NEVER have to tell the BRN anything.
If you are convicted of a DUI or a Wet and Reckless or a Dry Reckless or convicted of anything, then you must report this to the BRN and you only have 30 days in which to do so. The disclosure is important and it must be done properly and within the timeframe in order to give you the best chance at defending your RN license. A Wet and Reckless or a Dry Reckless properly disclosed will result only in a citation and fine from the BRN, nothing more and this is a dream result, more on that here. A properly disclosed DUI conviction eliminates the additional unprofessional conduct charge that you would otherwise get, but more importantly, it sets you up from the get-go to defend your RN license if an Accusation is filed against your RN license.
TIME FRAME FOR CITATION AND FINE
If you’ve disclosed a Wet and Reckless or a Dry Reckless, the BRN will issue you a citation and fine. Occasionally, even DUI convictions properly disclosed will result in a cite and fine. This will be issued about 4-6 months following the disclosure.
This is where the rubber meets the road with your RN license and the DUI. This is where RNs have their licenses revoked. The Accusation is filed against your RN license by the BRN’s lawyers, or the Deputy Attorney General (DAG). The Accusation will list the Causes for Action, or the circumstances surrounding your DUI conviction and will always include “Unprofessional Conduct,” “Conviction of a Substantially Related Crime,” and “Use of Alcohol in Manner Dangerous to Oneself or Others.” The recommended discipline for these causes for action is always suspension or revocation of the RN license, which you will find in the last section of the Accusation, or in the Prayer.
Take a deep breath… remember what I said about our clients NEVER losing their RN licenses for a DUI- not EVER? You will not be the first. Our attorneys are able to negotiate with the DAG to reduce your license discipline to either a Letter of Reprimand or Probation and the BRN always agrees. A Letter of Reprimand is the preferred result, but occurs infrequently and only by going to Hearing. Probation is no picnic, but you can still work, you can very likely still keep your job and you will absolutely be able to keep your RN license.
TIME FRAME FOR ACCUSATAIONS
From the time the DUI is disclosed to the BRN, to the Accusation being filed usually takes about 12 months. It then takes another 6-9 months for your attorney to reach a settlement with the BRN and then another few months for the BRN to adopt the settlement and impose probation. This is a slow process and you will be able to work the entire time.
HOW TO DEFEND YOURSELF
The best defense is the best defense attorney. This sounds self-serving, I know, but it is also very true. You have a great deal on the line. As a nurse, you still have the criminal DUI and the DMV to deal with, so you need an attorney who can get you a better deal with the DUI and get you back to driving again, and our attorneys can certainly do that. The driver’s license is only important so you can drive to work. The criminal portion is only important so you spend less time doing DUI classes and community service and you can get back to your patients. For you, your RN licensee is what matters. Our attorney’s sole and complete focus during the entire DUI process is on your RN licensee and your career as a Nurse.
Our strategy in the criminal defense is often different than what a DUI attorney might do, because we are focused on the best outcome for the RN license and how the BRN will view the criminal portion. Having an attorney laser-focused on your career as a nurse ensures that while your DUI is being handled properly and with the least fall-out, your RN license is secure and career is safe.
We are one of the only attorney groups in California whose sole dedicated focus is on nurses, and se we have 2 defense attorneys who specialize in DUI defense for nurses and then defending your RN license with the BRN. These are 2 very different areas of law so finding an attorney who is an expert in both is like finding a neurosurgeon podiatrist. Luckily for you, you’ve found them.
If you’ve been recently arrested for a DUI and your concern is on saving your RN license and your career as a nurse, please give me a call. I will listen to the details of your specific case, give you a clear idea of exactly what you can expect and offer you an affordable way to keep your RN license.