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“Excellent job. My case was dismissed, due to very professional services of Doug Murphy Law Firm.”-A.B.

Houston Mental Health Counselor DWI Defense Lawyer

Protecting the Careers of Mental Health Professionals in Texas

If you are a licensed Texas mental health professional, whether a psychologist, marriage and family therapist, or professional counselor, your license may be subject to discipline related to DWI charges. Texas DWI charges are, in any instance, serious enough to retain skilled and experienced Texas DWI defense services. But licensed professionals can have an even greater interest in premier DWI defense representation than non-professionals facing DWI charges. And licensed mental health professionals can have an even greater interest in the successful defense of DWI charges than other professionals because of the sensitive positions they occupy in the trust and care of their clients.

Texas mental health licensing officials can take DWI convictions and the substance use or abuse related to those convictions to deny, suspend, or revoke a license. And without the required license, the mental health professional can lose a professional practice, job, income, and career. Don't underestimate the potential impact of DWI charges on your mental health professional license. Retain premier DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy for your best outcome in both your criminal court DWI case and your professional license disciplinary proceeding. Don't despair. You can retain the help you need with one phone call.

Texas Professional Discipline of Mental Health Professionals

The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council accepts disciplinary complaints against state-licensed psychologists, professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and social workers. Texas Occupational Code Section 507.001 et seq. authorizes the Executive Council to investigate and discipline the licenses of any of those mental health counselors.

Under Texas Occupational Code Section 507.301, the Executive Council may "deny, revoke, suspend, or refuse to renew a license or may reprimand a license holder if the applicant or license holder violates" professional licensing laws or rules. The Executive Council may also impose hefty fines of up to $5,000 per day for violating its provisions. Disputes over license discipline go before the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Criminal charges and history can result in such discipline. Under Texas Occupational Code Section 507.251, the Executive Council must require all mental health counselors seeking a license to submit to a criminal history check. Under Texas Occupational Code Section 507.257, the Executive Council must also require mental health counselors who are renewing their licenses to submit to an updated criminal history check.

Beware of DWI charges. They can result in professional discipline. Retain premier DWI defense attorney Murphy to represent you for the best outcome to your mental health professional licensing proceeding.

Mental Health Professional Standards Related to DWI Charges

The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council's rules give it the authority to discipline mental health professionals. But one looks to the individual profession's statutory code for the professional standards and qualifications the professional must meet. And those standards can, in certain cases, clearly reach DWI charges and related circumstances. For example, the qualifications that a licensed psychologist must meet under Texas Occupational Code Section 501.2525 to avoid license discipline 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."

The qualifications for licensed marriage and family therapists under Section 502.252 are very close to the same as for licensed psychologists. Among other things, the licensed marriage and family therapist must "have not been convicted of a felony or a crime involving moral turpitude" and must "not use drugs or alcohol to an extent that affects the applicant's professional competency." Disciplinary officials will clearly take notice of felony convictions and evidence of drug or alcohol abuse or addiction affecting or impairing professional services. Let DWI attorney Murphy help you present your best defense to disciplinary charges, including your best case for mitigation.

When DWI Charges Become Disqualifying Circumstances

You can see from the above mental health professional standards how DWI charges could, if not properly handled, become disqualifying circumstances for a mental health professional license. First, some DWI charges are felony charges, particularly those involving a child passenger in the defendant driver's vehicle, injury to another in connection with a DWI accident, or a third or subsequent DWI offense.

The above statutes expressly make felony convictions disqualifying circumstances. You would retain a skilled DWI defense lawyer to vigorously defend felony DWI charges in any case, but especially to protect your mental health professional license. But even misdemeanor DWI charges, such as those for a first offense or second offense without children or injury, could implicate the above qualifications. Depending on the circumstances, any DWI charge or conviction, even one for a misdemeanor, could suggest that the licensed psychologist or counselor is not competent to provide reasonably skilled and safe services, or may have a substance abuse condition impairing the services. Let premier DWI attorney Murphy help you show disciplinary officials that your DWI charge does not present a professional practice risk and that you have mitigated any such risks.

Implications of a Mental Health Professional's DWI Charge

Revocation, suspension, or non-renewal of your mental health professional's license is a potential risk of a DWI charge. Yet DWI charges can have other consequences for a mental health professional, whether or not the charges result in professional discipline. To properly evaluate, manage, address, and defend DWI charges, the mental health professional must understand how DWI charges can impact their life.

The penalties for DWI offenses, even as relatively minor as a second misdemeanor offense, can include 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. Even a relatively brief incarceration can have devastating effects on a professional practice and reputation. Supervised release can also restrict a professional's schedule and ability to move and travel to advance within the profession. Loss or restriction of a driver's license can have similar negative impacts on a professional practice, employment, advancement, and reputation.

Consider, too, the potentially severe collateral consequences of a mental health professional's DWI conviction, like job loss or demotion, lost honors and appointments, and personal impacts on things like child custody, firearms licenses, security clearances, and international travel privileges. Retain the skilled and experienced DWI lawyer representation you need to avoid and minimize as many of these damaging consequences as possible.

Mental Health Professional Duties to Report DWI Charges

While you may not have a duty to self-report your DWI charge and conviction as a Texas-licensed mental health professional, your state licensing board may well find out about your DWI charge and any DWI conviction anyway. Your license renewal form is likely to require you to disclose arrests and convictions for the Executive Council's investigation. Your criminal history check on your license application or updated criminal history check on license renewal would also likely disclose your DWI conviction. Even if you need not disclose a DWI charge and conviction, and the Executive Council does not discover it by background check, a colleague may report you for investigation if concerned over your fitness for counseling practice.

Texas Administrative Code Rule 465.35 requires psychologists to report to the Executive Council for discipline other psychologists when "violating a state or federal law within the jurisdiction of the Council involving actual or likely harm to an individual or the public." Self-reporting DWI charges voluntarily may be better, if you must report on license renewal, or the Executive Council will learn anyway. Let premier DWI attorney Murphy help you determine and meet reporting obligations.

Texas Mental Health Professional Disciplinary Process

If you do face disciplinary charges relating to your DWI arrest and criminal proceeding, then you will need skilled administrative representation in that licensing proceeding. The Texas Behavioral Health Executive Council follows a disciplinary complaint process that begins with a staff investigation. If an investigation suggests probable cause for an alleged violation of your profession's above rules, then you should receive written notice of the charges. You and your retained DWI defense attorney may then have an opportunity for an informal settlement conference with the Executive Council staff or a Disciplinary Review Panel.

Your retained DWI lawyer's advocacy may result in a recommendation for dismissal of the disciplinary charges. If you and your DWI attorney cannot negotiate an acceptable informal outcome, then your attorney can help you invoke the formal hearing procedures through the State Office of Administrative Hearings. Administrative hearings require skilled administrative representation to, among other things, present the lay and expert witnesses, exhibits, and other exonerating and mitigating evidence for your best outcome. When you retain DWI attorney Murphy, you get an advocate skilled in both criminal court proceedings and the administrative proceedings that decide professional license discipline.

Defending a Mental Health Professional's DWI Charge

Of course, a successful outcome of your DWI criminal charge is likely to be key to your best outcome of any mental health professional license proceeding. Beating the criminal charge will very likely help you avoid or minimize the impact of a license proceeding. And just because you may have suffered a DWI arrest under suspicious circumstances doesn't mean that you have no defense to the DWI charges. No matter what happened leading to your Texas DWI charge, the prosecution has the burden of proving every element of the charge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Skilled and experienced DWI defense lawyer representation may be able to show serious questions about the reliability of your prosecution's blood alcohol testing. The arresting officer may not have had reasonable suspicion to make the DWI stop or probable cause for your vehicle's search or to demand a breath or blood test. You have other constitutional and statutory rights, the violation of which could result in a winning motion to suppress incriminating evidence. Premier DWI attorney Murphy can help you achieve your best outcome in the DWI criminal case so that you can have your best outcome in any professional license proceeding.

A Mental Health Professional's Best Step Facing a DWI Charge

You should have no question that your best step as a mental health professional facing a DWI charge is to retain a skilled and experienced DWI attorney who can also represent you in your professional licensing matter. Many defense lawyers who take DWI defense cases do not have the administrative hearing skills necessary for effective professional license defense. Those lawyers may leave you to handle your own professional license matters, when those professional matters may be every bit as important to you as your successful defense of the criminal DWI charge.

Unlike those other defense lawyers, DWI attorney Murphy has the administrative hearing skills for your dual defense of DWI charges and professional disciplinary proceedings. Attorney Murphy can not only represent you in the criminal case at arraignment, preliminary examination, motion hearings, pretrial conferences, trial, and for appeals. Attorney Murphy can also represent you at your Administrative License Revocation (ALR) hearing on your driver's license and at every stage of your professional license defense. Attorney Murphy can also help you decide whether, when, and how to inform your employer, offering you the full range of services you need for your best outcome.

Contact Our Houston DWI Defense Lawyer for Mental Health Professionals

You have every reason to trust premier DWI attorney Doug Murphy with your defense of DWI charges as a mental health professional. Attorney Murphy, who is one of only two Texas attorneys holding both DWI Board Certification and Criminal Law Board Certification, has been the Dean of the National College for DUI Defense conducted at the most prestigious and highly ranked Harvard Law School. Houston area lawyers have voted attorney Murphy one of the Best Lawyers in America and Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI Defense, as published in U.S. News & World Report. Attorney Murphy also frequently lectures nationwide on DWI defense to lawyers and judges. To get your best result, retain the best available DWI defense attorney. Call 713-229-8333 or contact us online now.

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