Psychology is a special profession to practice. Psychologists can make enormously positive differences in their patients' lives through skilled counseling and treatment related to mental health. Psychologists are a lifeline for their patients, exercising critically sensitive skills. The professional standing of psychologists and satisfaction of psychology practice are likely two compelling reasons you pursued psychology practice, along with the profession's financial and other career rewards. Yet if you are a licensed Texas psychologist, your DWI charge could affect your psychology license and practice. Depending on the circumstances, DWI charges can threaten almost any licensed professional but especially individuals in healthcare professions. Healthcare license disciplinary officials take seriously their obligation to protect patient health and safety from unfit practitioners. For your best personal and professional outcome to DWI charges, you need a skilled and experienced Texas DWI Specialist for the successful defense of DWI charges. You can do no better than to retain premier DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy for your dual defense of both criminal court DWI charges and your psychology license disciplinary proceeding.
Psychologist Qualifications Affected by DWI Charges
The Texas Occupational Code establishes the qualifications that a psychologist must meet for licensure. Some of those qualifications potentially relate to DWI charges, depending on the circumstances of those charges. The key qualifications under Texas Occupational Code Section 501.2525 include that the psychologist:
- "is physically and mentally competent to provide psychological services with reasonable skill and safety, as determined by the executive council;"
- "is not afflicted with a mental or physical disease or condition that would impair the applicant's competency to provide psychological services;"
- "has not been convicted of a crime involving moral turpitude or a felony;" and
- "does not use drugs or alcohol to an extent that affects the applicant's professional competency."
While the Texas Occupational Code provides these core psychologist qualifications, other legislation authorizes administrative rules for psychologist qualifications. The Texas Psychologists' Licensing Act establishes the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists. The Board of Examiners licenses psychologists. It also provides for their discipline in appropriate cases. The State Board of Examiners of Psychologists adopted rules of practice in Texas Administrative Code Rules 465.1-38. Those rules govern when and whether DWI charges will affect your psychology license. Rule 465.13, titled "Personal Problems, Conflicts, and Dual Relationships," includes these two qualifications potentially relating to DWI charges:
- "Licensees shall refrain from providing services when they know or should know that their personal problems or a lack of objectivity are likely to impair their competency or harm a patient, client, colleague, student, supervisee, research participant, or other person with whom they have a professional relationship"; and
- "Licensees shall seek professional assistance for any personal problems, including alcohol or substance abuse likely to impair their competency."
How DWI Charges Affect Psychologist Qualifications
DWI charges could implicate the above codes and rules for psychologist qualifications in either one of two ways. First, the DWI charges could be felony charges, when Code Section 501.2525 disqualifies psychologists for felony convictions. Texas DWI crimes are ordinarily misdemeanor offenses, particularly for a first offense or second offense without children in the vehicle or any injuries to others. But Texas law elevates DWI crimes to felonies when involving a child passenger in the driver's vehicle, injury to another in the DWI accident, or a third or subsequent DWI offense. The other way that DWI charges could implicate a psychologist's qualifications is if they suggest that the psychologist is not fit to practice safely and competently because of a substance addiction, impairment, or related health condition, or reckless disregard for patient safety. Even misdemeanor DWI charges could implicate these qualifications, depending on the circumstances. For instance, DWI-related intoxication might prove to be addiction related. Or the circumstances of the DWI, such as an exceedingly high blood-alcohol content and reckless driving, may suggest flagrant disregard for public health and safety. Retain DWI Specialist attorney Murphy to help you evaluate the risks that your DWI arrest and charges pose to your psychology license.
DWI-Related License Sanctions Against Texas Psychologists
The Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists maintains a schedule of standard sanctions indicating when it intends to revoke or suspend a psychologist's license, place the psychologist on probation, issue a reprimand, or impose other administrative penalties. The standard sanction for violations of the above Rule 465.13(a)(1) and (2) relating to impairment from alcohol or drug abuse is license suspension. If the circumstances of your DWI charges suggest alcohol or drug abuse or addiction, your default license sanction could be suspension. License suspension would interrupt your psychology practice and could lead to loss of patients and employment. Just because license suspension may be the standard sanction relating to your DWI charge does not mean that you will necessarily suffer license suspension. Retain DWI Specialist attorney Murphy to help you show licensing officials that your DWI charge does not implicate the above conditions and that license suspension is an unnecessary and inappropriately severe sanction.
Texas Discipline of Licensed Psychologists
The Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists does not itself impose license discipline. The State Board establishes the above license qualifications, but a different state agency determines whether to sanction the psychologist facing a DWI charge. The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council is the state agency that accepts disciplinary complaints against state-licensed psychologists. You may have to answer to Executive Council disciplinary charges related to your DWI arrest. Texas Occupational Code Section 507.001 authorizes the Executive Council to investigate and discipline a psychologist's state license, including to "deny, revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew a license…." The Executive Council also has the authority to impose fines of up to $5,000 per day for violating its provisions. Do not doubt the authority of state regulators to affect your psychology license. And do not ignore the risk of license discipline. Instead, retain DWI Specialist attorney Murphy to help you address your professional licensing issues proactively for the best possible outcome. You and your retained DWI Specialist may be able to resolve disciplinary charges in an informal settlement conference with the Executive Council staff or a Disciplinary Review Panel before the charges proceed to a formal hearing.
Texas Psychology License Disciplinary Procedures
Another state agency, the Texas State Office of Administrative Hearings, hears contested disciplinary proceedings over psychology and other professional licenses. The State Office follows its administrative hearing rules for the disciplinary complaint process. Those rules provide for formal complaints and hearings before an administrative law judge who hears witness testimony. If you face disciplinary charges relating to your DWI arrest, you need skilled administrative representation. Administrative hearings can involve direct and cross-examination of lay and expert witnesses, introducing exhibits as other evidence, objecting to inadmissible evidence the disciplinary officials offer, and other legal research and advocacy. Administrative hearings differ from criminal court proceedings. You need more than a DWI defense lawyer for your best representation in an administrative licensing proceeding. DWI Specialist attorney Murphy has premier skills and substantial experience for both criminal court charges and administrative licensing hearings.
Reporting DWI Charges to Psychologist Licensing Officials
Psychologists need not necessarily report their DWI charges to Texas state licensing officials. Under Texas Administrative Code Rule 465.35, psychologists must report to the Executive Council for discipline other psychologists "violating a state or federal law within the jurisdiction of the Council involving actual or likely harm to an individual or the public." Your colleague may report you, but the rule does not generally require self-report. Yet licensing officials may nonetheless discover your DWI charges. Texas Occupational Code Section 507.251 requires a criminal history check for psychologists seeking a license. Texas Occupational Code Section 507.257 likewise requires an updated criminal history check for psychologists renewing a license. Your license renewal form may require you to disclose your DWI arrest or conviction for the Executive Council to investigate. And your self-report to the right officials with the right information and presentation could be in your professional interest as a mitigating factor to any sanctions. DWI Specialist attorney Murphy can help you meet reporting obligations and opportunities for your best outcome.
Consequences of a Psychologist's DWI Charge
A psychologist facing DWI charges could face a wide range of potential consequences. Those consequences can depend on the facts and circumstances of the charge, your actions in response to the DWI charge, and the quality of your defense representation. The first consequences have to do with the penalties for DWI convictions. The penalties for a first DWI offense can be up to six months in jail plus driver's license suspension and supervised release, among other things. A second misdemeanor offense raises the penalties to up to twelve months in jail, a $6,000 fine, two years of supervised release, and a driver's license suspension of up to twenty-four months. Felony DWI conviction significantly increases those penalties. You've already seen that the circumstances relating to a DWI arrest, charge, and conviction can lead to the revocation or suspension of your psychology license. DWI charges and conviction, and professional license suspension, can result in job loss. DWI charges can have other life impacts beyond job loss or demotion, including things like lost job advancement and appointments, and impacts on child custody, firearms licenses, and even travel privileges. Retain DWI Specialist attorney Murphy to help you assess, manage, and avoid those impacts.
Defending DWI Charges Against a Psychologist
A DWI charge is not the same as a conviction. American law places the burden of proof on the prosecution, presuming innocence until proven guilty. And the proof burden in Texas DWI cases is the highest of proof burdens, beyond a reasonable doubt. When you retain DWI Specialist attorney Murphy, he is fully equipped and prepared to challenge the reliability and results of any breath testing or blood alcohol testing. Attorney Murphy may also be able to show that the arresting officer lacked the necessary reasonable suspicion to make your DWI vehicle stop or lacked the necessary probable cause to search your vehicle or get a warrant for a blood test. The violation of any of your constitutional, statutory, or procedural rights could be grounds for attorney Murphy to file and win a motion to suppress the prosecution's evidence of DWI crime. These are but a few of the many ways in which attorney Murphy may be able to help you defend and defeat your DWI charges to ensure your best outcome in your psychology license proceeding.
What to Do as a Psychologist Facing a DWI Charge
With all that a psychologist has on the line when facing a DWI charge, the best move is to retain the best available DWI Specialist representation. Your criminal case may entail your arraignment on the DWI charges, entry of an appropriate plea to those charges, setting of bail terms and conditions, a preliminary examination hearing, questions over the impoundment of your vehicle, and many other confusing and daunting proceedings. Attorney Murphy can help you throughout the course of your criminal proceeding, addressing all related issues. Your DWI arrest also likely resulted in the officer taking your driver's license and issuing you a temporary license that will expire unless you affirmatively request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. Attorney Murphy can represent you at your ALR hearing. Attorney Murphy can also help you decide whether and how to report your DWI charge to psychology licensing officials and can represent you in any psychology license proceeding. Attorney Murphy can also help you decide whether and how to inform your employer. Your psychology license and practice are extraordinary privileges carrying extraordinary benefits. Treat them that way by getting the DWI Specialist representation you need for your best outcome.
Texas DWI Specialist Defending Psychologists
Premier DWI Specialist attorney Doug Murphy has successfully represented all kinds of professionals in both DWI criminal cases and related professional license proceedings. You can trust attorney Murphy for your best outcome because of his demonstrated skills and experience. Attorney Murphy is one of only two Texas attorneys holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Certification. Houston area lawyers also voted attorney Murphy the Best Lawyers in America 2021 and 2023 Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI Defense, as U.S. News & World Report published. Get your best result by retaining the best available Texas DWI Specialist defense attorney. Call (713) 229-8333 or go online now.