RN Licensure and DUI

Last new years I was convicted of a DUI. I was given a program called ARD which is supposed to be an alcohol education class and basically drops the misdemeanor charge and expunges the DUI from my record.

Now, I’m in my first semester of Nursing school and I’m hearing that I may not be able to gain a RN license because of my DUI. Or at least not for a long time.

Some other important info: I have been arrested in the past, but none of them were felonies or misdemeanors. I live in PA

Can someone shed some light here?

You’ll have to report the conviction to the Nursing Board for your state, and yes they can deny you a license .

“.In addition, the Board may discipline members who use any controlled substance or alcoholic beverages to an extent or in a manner dangerous or injurious to himself or herself, any other person, or to the public.”

Expunged = never happened. You’re under no obligation to tell them. That’s the whole point of getting your record expunged.

Right, but they ask it in a way that can’t be avoided. Ex: has your driving priveledge ever been suspended? It’s clear on the criminal record but right there on the driving record. To make it worse, if they find your not completely honest and forthcoming they will make sure to deny your license.

I guarantee there are lawyers in your area who deal with your local nursing board in these types of matters every day. Call them, explain your situation, they will tell you how to answer the question, you will get your license.

This is one area where you should NOT listen to most of your teachers, and DEFINITELY don’t listen to the other students. Times change, values change, and nursing boards have huge amounts of wiggle room created by the word “may”.

First, get a copy of the actual license application for your state. Take it to a lawyer licensed in your state and ask her if you need to list your DUI conviction.

Even if the answer is yes, still don’t panic. Again, it’s not an automatic denial, it’s a “the board may deny”. They do take into account the seriousness of the offense, whether it was repeated, the time that’s elapsed since and other factors like whether you attended those classes willingly and passed 'em first time or if you violated your probation and had to be ordered more than once to go.

There are current convicted drug abusers who still have their nursing licenses. Often the board will restrict their license, so they can’t dispense drugs like those they have a history of problems with, or they have to work under the direct supervision of another RN or stuff like that. But the atmosphere in most states about drug/alcohol use that doesn’t directly impact patient care (that is, you’re not stealing morphine from sick people) is that we need to *help *the nurse with his substance abuse problem, not punish him by taking away his ability to earn a living as a nurse.

So if you have to list your DUI, try to find out more about the recent history of how similar applications have been handled in your state. Maybe your lawyer will know how to find out, or you can ask people for their experiences over at www.allnurses.com - but again, only *recent *experiences matter. These things were handled very differently even just 10 years ago.