If you're in graduate school and facing a DWI charge, you're probably concerned about the immediate consequences of a possible DWI conviction, including jail time and fines. But did you know that a DWI can have professional and educational consequences as well?
Professional Consequences of a DWI Conviction
A DWI conviction doesn't just carry the threat of jail time, a suspended driver's license, and fines. You can also face professional consequences with a DWI on your record.
- Medical License: If you're in medical school or graduate school to become a physician's assistant, a DWI on your record could prevent you from obtaining a license. As a physician, the use of drugs or alcohol could endanger your future patients.
- Nursing License: A DWI can also affect licensing as a nurse. Your licensing application will ask you about prior convictions and drug and alcohol use.
- Security Clearance: A DWI can also prevent you from obtaining a security clearance in some cases. If you have hopes of working for a defense contractor, a security clearance is often a necessity.
- Pilot's License: If you want to obtain a recreational or commercial pilot's license, a DWI conviction can be a roadblock. You may have difficulty obtaining insurance coverage or a license.
- Dental License: It can also be difficult to obtain a dental license or even a license as a dental hygienist with a DWI on your record.
- Teaching License: The Texas Education Agency holds teachers to a high standard, and a DWI qualifies as an ethical violation under their licensing standards. Failing to report a DWI can also be a violation that could prevent you from obtaining a license.
Possible Educational Consequences from a DWI
If a court convicts you of a DWI, you may also face more immediate consequences from your university or professional school. The student codes of conduct frequently address illegal activity, whether on or off-campus.
- Rice University
If you are a grad student at Rice University, you can also face disciplinary proceedings at school because of a DWI conviction. According to the Rice Student Code of Conduct, “the Code of Student Conduct applies to all students, including: undergraduate, graduate, and those enrolled in professional and Continuing Studies programs, visiting students (including online students), visiting post baccalaureates, second degree students, and auditors.” The code of conduct also applies to Rice online students and applies to on-campus students on and off-campus.
At Rice, DWIs involving drugs or alcohol are both treated as “Class I” violations of the university's Code of Conduct, which can result in a range of sanctions, up to and including expulsion. Violations of any criminal law and the school's alcohol policy are also Class I violations. Unfortunately, you can also face discipline, suspension, or expulsion from the university regardless of whether a court finds you guilty. Under the code of conduct:
Rice University reserves the right to take official notice of criminal convictions of, and accusations against, a student, whether the crime is committed on or off campus. This may then result in appropriate sanctions, including potentially expulsion from the University.
A DWI can involve allegations of violations of both Rice University rules or regulations and criminal law. In those cases, Rice can proceed with disciplinary actions whether or not your DWI proceeds through the criminal justice system. The Student Code of Conduct goes on to state that “The University does not presume to advise students accused of criminal law violations. Rice University provides no sanctuary from the consequences of illegal acts.”
- University of Houston
The University of Houston's Student Code of Conduct prohibits abusing alcohol and cautions that the administration can take disciplinary action for anything illegal or violating the student code of conduct.
“University disciplinary action may be instituted against a student charged with conduct that potentially violates both criminal law and University policy without regard to pending civil litigation or criminal arrest and prosecution.”
U of H Student Code of Conduct § 1.3. Conduct violations include providing open access to alcohol, hazing, aiding and abetting, and complicity. In other words, even if you didn't violate the rules, if you knew someone else did and didn't report them, you could still face discipline. If convicted of a DWI, you find yourself removed or suspended from your graduate program at the University of Houston.
Similarly, the College of Pharmacy at U of H has its own Academic and Conduct Standards in conjunction with Stephen F. Austin State University and Lamar University. The College of Medicine also has a Code of Professional Conduct and Academic Honesty. The code requires that students obey all federal, state, and local laws and “shall not engage in any activity that will discredit the profession of medicine.” Again, a DWI conviction could lead to discipline in your U of H graduate program.
- Baylor College of Medicine
Baylor is known for its highly sought after medical programs. If you have a coveted spot at Baylor's medical school, in the nursing program, or any of its excellent graduate programs for medical professionals, the school will hold you to the high standards of your future profession. Accordingly, Baylor prohibits using drugs or alcohol on campus and prohibits illegal activity associated with alcohol and drugs off of the campus. Baylor's Student Code of Conduct prohibits all personal behavior on or off campus that:
(1) interferes with Baylor's pursuit of its educational and/or Christian objectives, and/or reflects poorly on the University; (2) fails to exhibit due regard for or violates the rights of others; (3) shows disrespect for persons and/or property; (4) violates, attempts to violate, and/or is complicit in a violation of University rules, regulations, and/or policies; (5) violates, attempts to violate, and/or is complicit in a violation of local, state, or federal laws, or the laws of other countries, where applicable; (6) fails to comply with the directives of University personnel; and/or (7) fails to demonstrate honesty in communication with, or in representing information to, the University and its personnel.
If convicted of a DWI, you could also face discipline under Baylor's student code of conduct. Likewise, the insurance policy covering all students, faculty, staff, and visitors also prohibits these activities. Violating these policies can lead to suspension or dismissal from Baylor College of Medicine.
- Prairie View A&M University
Prairie View A&M is known for its Houston-area business programs, but if an MBA is in your future, you'll need to conform to the school's rules for students. Under the PVAMU student code of conduct, students can face school disciplinary proceedings for any behavior that violates the code. Violations include using alcohol or drugs at campus-sponsored events or driving under the influence on campus or off.
“Alcohol is prohibited on Prairie View A&M University premises and University sponsored events. In addition, use, possession, or distribution of alcohol beverages while driving or riding in or on a vehicle on University premises is prohibited. […] Individuals may not be in a state of public intoxication or drunkenness. Individuals may not operate a motor vehicle or another form of transportation while intoxicated or while under the influence of alcohol.”
PVAMU Student Code of Conduct, Prohibited Conduct, § C.
The same applies to drug use or driving under the influence of drugs.
“The act of using, possessing, being under the influence of, manufacturing, or distributing illegal drugs or illegally obtained/possessed controlled substances is prohibited. Except as expressly permitted by law, use, possession, manufacturing, or distribution or being a party thereto of marijuana, heroin, narcotics, or other controlled and/or prescribed substances and/or drug paraphernalia and/or dangerous drug is also prohibited. Individuals may not operate a motor vehicle or another form of transportation while under the influence of drugs or while intoxicated.”
PVAMU Student Code of Conduct, Prohibited Conduct, § J. While the Student Code of Conduct does allow for minimal due process, including a conference before an objective decision maker, the school can assess penalties if it is “more likely than not that a violation occurred.”
- Our Lady of the Lake University
Our Lady of the Lake is known for its Houston-based social work undergraduate and graduate programs, with many future social workers matriculating from the Worden School of Social Services each year. If an MSW is your goal, a DWI could derail your future. Aside from the possible effect on licensing as a counselor, teacher, or medical professional, you could face repercussions in graduate school from a DWI conviction.
Under the school's PhD student handbook, any student violating the student code of conduct or engaging in illegal activity can face a “fitness to practice” evaluation. While all graduate students in social work programs face these evaluations each year, the faculty may instigate a FTP review at any time for students who “engage in illegal or unethical behavior” or those who violate the OLLU student code of conduct. If found unfit to practice, you could face dismissal from your graduate program at OLLU.
Hire an Experienced Houston Area DWI Attorney
If you're a grad student facing a DWI, you need an expert in DWI defense to handle your case. Only attorneys who are Board Certified in DWI Defense can call themselves experts for a reason. The board certification process ensures that attorneys have a wide breadth of DWI litigation experience, education in DWI legal and technical defenses, as well as advanced training in the science behind DWI testing.
Attorney Doug Murphy is one of only two attorneys in Texas Board Certified in both DUI Defense from the National College of DUI Defense (NCDD), accredited by the American Bar Association and the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, and Criminal Law from the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Doug also served as Dean of the NCDD conducted at Harvard Law School.
Best Lawyers in America also recently named Doug the “Lawyer of the Year” for 2021 for DWI defense in Houston. Thompson Reuters also named Doug a Texas Super Lawyer in Texas Monthly in 2009 and every year from 2013 to 2020. They've also named him a Texas Rising Star or Super Lawyer over a dozen times. Find out why the Houston press called Doug “a drinking driver's best friend.” Call us at 713-229-8333 today to set up a consultation.