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Houston DWI Defense Lawyer for EMTs

How Do DWI Charges Affect an EMT/Paramedic License?

The licensed professional who suffers arrest for a Texas DWI or related charge has special concerns. Those concerns are especially acute for the emergency medical technician (EMT) or paramedic. Emergency medical services are within the health field, where state regulators take special pains to ensure public safety. Any licensed professional could face license discipline related to a DWI. But licensed professionals in the health fields face special risks of losing their licenses to suspension, revocation, or non-renewal. And because EMTs are on the road operating ambulances on the way to accident scenes when performing their professional services, the risks of professional license discipline compound for a DWI. You could lose your EMT job and career over a DWI. You thus need a premier DWI defense attorney to defend you in criminal court and to represent you in your EMT license proceeding. Retain preeminent Texas DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy to coordinate your defense in both proceedings. Your EMT license may be every bit as important to you as your criminal record. Get the special representation you need for the best possible outcome in both proceedings.

EMT Employment Generally Requires Driving

Operating an ambulance and performing emergency medical services are two different skills. But as the placement service reports, "licensed EMTs operate most ambulances." Employers of EMTs generally require them to drive the ambulance. While Bureau of Labor statistics count well over 250,000 EMTs and paramedics at work in the nation, only a little over 11,000 ambulance drivers don't hold an EMT license. The vast majority of EMTs drive ambulances. Texas state ambulance regulations link closely to EMS provider licenses. Cities like Houston may also require special ambulance driver permits. Your clean driving record and your valid driver's license can be critical to your EMT employment.

A DWI arrest is serious in itself. But the collateral consequences of a DWI charge can be more serious for some, especially licensed professionals, than the direct consequences. The penalties for a first DWI may be far less consequential to you than the impact on your EMT job and career of the DWI charge. Treat those collateral consequences seriously. Retain DWI defense attorney Murphy not only to defend your DWI charge in criminal court but also to address your EMT license proceeding.

DWI Crimes Affecting EMT Licenses

DWI crimes are not all alike. Texas instead defines several DWI crimes at several different offense levels, from a Class B misdemeanor for a first-offense DWI, to generally a third-degree felony for a third or subsequent DWI offense, all the way to a second-degree felony for intoxication manslaughter. The potential penalties for these DWI offense levels vary from as little as 72 hours in jail and a $2,000 fine for the basic first-offense DWI all the way to up to twenty years in prison and a $10,000 fine for intoxication manslaughter.

Contesting a DWI conviction and minimizing a DWI sentence can be critical to your personal freedom, finances, record, and reputation. But the potential effect on your EMT certification or paramedic license could be just as important to you. And the more serious the DWI crime, the greater that impact on your professional license could be. EMTs and paramedics should be concerned about any DWI charge but especially these elevated DWI felony crimes:

Texas EMT Certification and Licensure

Chapter 157 of the Texas Administrative Code implements the state's Emergency Medical Services Act, including providing minimum requirements for your emergency medical services (EMS) provider license. Texas's Emergency Medical Services Act authorizes licenses for emergency medical technicians (EMTs), emergency care attendants (ECAs), advanced EMTs, and licensed paramedics. Section 157.33 states the minimum requirements for EMT certification and other emergency medical services certifications, while Section 157.40 states the minimum requirements for paramedic licensure. You must generally hold one of those certifications or licenses to provide emergency medical services in Texas.

Texas's EMS regulations recognize similar certifications and licenses from other states, while other states generally recognize Texas EMS certifications and licenses. Your EMT license is thus critical to your work in the EMS field both in Texas and elsewhere. What happens to your Texas EMS certification or license won't stay in Texas but will instead follow you elsewhere. Guard your EMS license or certification against DWI charges. Retain DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy for defense in both your criminal court and license proceedings.

Texas EMT Discipline for DWI Crimes

Texas Administrative Code Section 157.36(b) authorizes the commissioner of the state's Department of State Health Services to discipline an EMT for any of a long list of reasons. Prominent among those reasons, in Section 157.36(b)(2), is "any conduct which is criminal in nature or any conduct which is in violation of any criminal, civil, or administrative code or statute." If you are arrested for a DWI crime, you may face prompt license discipline. Section 157.36(b) states expressly that the department "may suspend, revoke, or refuse to renew an EMS certification or paramedic license, or may reprimand a certificant or licensed paramedic," for the listed reasons, including conduct criminal in nature or violating a criminal statute. Your discipline may thus be not just a reprimand but the department's suspension, revocation of, or refusal to renew your license. In the worst case, you could lose your paramedic job and your privilege to pursue your emergency medical services career over a DWI charge.

Emergency EMT License Suspension

Your EMT license discipline may be swift and sudden before you even get any notice that your license is at risk. Texas Administrative Code Section 157.36(a) requires the department to suspend your EMT license on an emergency basis whenever the department "has reasonable cause to believe that the conduct of any certificant or licensee creates an imminent danger to public health or safety." The department could potentially construe a DWI charge, especially a felony DWI charge involving injury to others, multiple offenses, or child passengers, as creating a risk to public health or safety. Section 157.36(a)(1) gives the emergency suspension order immediate effect without notice or hearing. You'll only learn of the order when the department serves it. And your emergency medical services employer will also learn of the order. Section 157.36(a)(2) requires the department to serve the order on any services provider with whom you associate. Your job loss could be immediate. Treat the risk most seriously. Retain DWI defense attorney Murphy to help you navigate EMT license issues.

EMT DWI Reporting Requirements

Don't make the mistake of thinking that your DWI arrest will go unnoticed. The Department of State Health Services will very likely learn of your DWI arrest, in large part because you must promptly report it. As just shown, Texas Administrative Code Section 157.36(b) authorizes the commissioner of the state's Department of State Health Services to discipline an EMT for any of a long list of reasons, including DWI violations. Another one of those reasons, found in Section 157.36(b)(26), is failure "to notify the department within 5 business days of his or her being arrested, charged or indicted for any criminal offense" other than an unrelated class C misdemeanor. You could suffer license discipline for failing to report your DWI arrest, even if the criminal court later finds that you did not commit a DWI crime. A failure to report a DWI arrest is its own grounds for discipline. The cover-up can be worse than the charged crime. Prior to reporting your DWI arrest, you would be well advised to seek the skilled advice and representation of DWI defense lawyer Doug Murphy.

EMT Administrative License Hearings

Texas Administrative Code Section 157.16(a)(3) requires the department to offer a hearing to an EMT whose professional license the department has suspended. Your DWI lawyer can make a written request on your behalf for that hearing. Fortunately, the department must conduct that hearing relatively promptly, no more than thirty days after your defense attorney's request. The purpose of the hearing is to "determine if the emergency suspension is to be continued, modified or rescinded."

Your DWI attorney's keen advocacy could result in the prompt restoration of your EMT license. Hearings are closely regulated affairs. The department conducts an EMT license hearing under the state's Administrative Procedure Act, according to administrative hearing rules, before an administrative law judge. Retain DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy to perform these critical tasks for your best opportunity for license restoration:

  • Making a prompt hearing request so that the department schedules your hearing without delay at a time, on a date, and at a place when you, your witnesses, and your retained DWI lawyer are available to appear;
  • Communicating with the hearing administrator, department representative, and administrative law judge regarding hearing requirements;
  • Communicating and negotiating with the department representative regarding opportunities for voluntary case resolution;
  • Identifying, acquiring, and organizing documentary and other exhibits to present at the hearing, such as incident reports, medical records, counseling records, education records, employment records, and toxicology reports;
  • Identifying, procuring, and preparing witnesses to testify at the hearing, including police officers, vehicle passengers, other witnesses at the scene, medical care providers, toxicologists, and other expert witnesses;
  • Preparing hearing briefs, including a summary of the evidence together with governing law, rule, regulation, and case authority, advocating on your behalf;
  • Conducting the hearing, including addressing the administrative law judge, direct examination of your witnesses, cross-examination of adverse witnesses, evidentiary objections, and arguments; and
  • Evaluating the administrative decision, including ensuring that it addresses all issues and determining whether irregularity or errors occurred that may give grounds for any necessary appeal.

The ALR Hearing and Your EMT License

Your DWI arrest likely involved the police seizure of your driver's license, leaving you with a temporary driving permit. If, as is usually the case, you operate an ambulance or other motor vehicle related to your EMT employment, your driver's license can be nearly as important to you as your EMT professional license. When the police seize your driver's license at your DWI arrest, you will ordinarily have fifteen days within which to request an Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing. The ALR hearing has to do with your driver's license, not your EMT certification or paramedic's license. Retain your DWI attorney to represent you in that ALR hearing. Your DWI lawyer's advocacy may be able to regain your driver's license so that you can continue to drive in the course of your EMT employment. You may alternatively qualify for a limited occupational license.

Improving Your EMT License Defense

One of DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy's most valuable services in these cases is not just to prepare your EMT professional license defense but to help you improve your prospects for a successful defense. You may have several helpful or even critical steps you can take on your own, before court and administrative hearings, to improve your prospects of retaining your EMT professional license. An effective defense of your EMT professional license doesn't generally involve sitting back and waiting for things to happen. And it can involve more than preparing for and conducting court hearings and administrative licensing hearings. Sometimes, the most important steps are the ones the DWI defendant takes on his or her own, on the advice of counsel. Steps like the following, taken on the advice of counsel and with counsel's guidance, can not only improve your EMT license defense prospects but also improve your mental and physical health and general life prospects:

  • Getting mental health evaluation, diagnosis, and report, including evaluation of mental acuity, concentration, and mental fitness for EMT duty, and any necessary or helpful therapy, counseling, medication, or medication adjustment;
  • Getting physical health evaluation, diagnosis, and report, including evaluation of eyesight, hearing, strength, balance, and other physical capability relating to physical fitness for EMT duty, and any necessary or helpful physical therapy, adjustment, occupational therapy, equipment, or medication;
  • Accepting voluntary addiction, substance use and abuse, psychological, social, or other education, counseling, courses, training, and evaluation relating to the alleged intoxication; and
  • Working with emergency medical services employers to ensure their confidence and trust, addressing their concerns with any required or recommended counseling, education, supervision, or other course of action.

What an EMT Can Do When Charged With a DWI Crime

A DWI arrest is not the time for an EMT to throw up their hands in resignation and defeat. Instead, with all that an EMT or paramedic has on the line, a DWI arrest is the time for concerted and wise action. You must first believe that your actions make a difference. You cannot leave some of these steps to others, whether mentors, friends, employers, or family members. Some of these actions your DWI attorney can help you take or can take on your behalf with your authorization. But stay involved, with the belief and confidence that your devoted actions will improve your outcome. The steps you should take as an EMT facing a DWI charge include:

  • Promptly retain a skilled and experienced DWI defense lawyer to represent you in your criminal court proceeding;
  • Request and authorize your DWI attorney to also represent you in your administrative EMT professional license proceeding;
  • Request and authorize your DWI lawyer to request an ALR hearing to regain your driver's license or an occupational license;
  • Cooperate fully and continuously with your DWI attorney throughout all proceedings;
  • Strictly follow all restrictions, including any limitation on your driver's license or professional license, any use of intoxicants, and presence in bars or clubs;
  • Wtrictly comply with all affirmative obligations, including any urine testing, medical appointments, and classes or courses;
  • Retain and meet, as far as you are able, all of your employment, family, financial, and other obligations, while exhibiting confidence in your outcome.

Contact Our Houston DWI Defense Lawyer for EMTs

Professionals facing licensing issues arising out of a DWI arrest and charge are in a delicate, even precarious, position. An EMT who has been arrested for DWI is at particular risk not just of criminal court penalties but of losing the EMT or paramedic professional license. In that situation, the best move is to retain a Texas DWI defense attorney who has substantial skill and experience in both DWI criminal court defense and administrative professional license defense.

When you retain Texas DWI attorney Doug Murphy, you get the advantage of premier services for both arenas; the criminal court defense and administrative professional license defense. Attorney Murphy is one of only two attorneys holding both Texas DWI and Texas Criminal Law Board Certification. Attorney Murphy has also won Best Lawyer recognition as Lawyer of the Year for DWI Defense in multiple years. Attorney Murphy has served as president of the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association, two terms on the statewide Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association board of directors, and as co-chair of its DWI Committee. Attorney Murphy has the premier skills, experience, and reputation you need for your best representation. Call 713-229-8333 or contact us online to retain the best available DWI defense attorney to defend your EMT professional license and Texas DWI charges.

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