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What You Need to Know About Your Nursing License if Charged with DWI in Texas

You are not alone if you are a nurse facing a Texas DWI charge. Nurses are heroes. Nurses help people while placing themselves in harm's way, not just during a pandemic but every day. A nursing practice's demands, though, can overwork and overwhelm nurses. Professional associations know that professional job stress can increase a professional's substance use and abuse. It's no different for nurses. Job stresses can make nurses vulnerable to DWI arrests if they drink or take drugs and then drive. Nurses do face DWI charges in Texas. The question, though, isn't so much why. The bigger question is what might happen. And the biggest question is what you can do about it.

A Texas DWI Can Be Worse for a Nurse

A Texas charge of driving while intoxicated (DWI) scares, embarrasses, and stresses anyone. If you are a nurse, though, a Texas DWI charge can be especially costly. DWI charges can have severe collateral consequences for licensed professionals, especially ones in medical fields. The Texas Board of Nursing specifically warns of the potentially dangerous impact on patient care when nurses abuse drugs or alcohol. The Texas Board of Nursing assures the public that it will pursue discipline against the licenses of nurses who abuse substances. A DWI charge could result in the loss of your nursing license, depending on the DWI arrest's circumstances and how you respond to the DWI charge. Losing your nursing license means losing the income from the job and career for which you have trained and no doubt love, along with other cascading collateral consequences.

What Nurses Do When Facing a DWI Makes a Difference

Don't give up hope if you are a nurse arrested for a Texas DWI. What you do to respond to your DWI arrest can make a difference in saving your nursing license. While the Texas Board of Nursing warns that it will discipline nurses with substance abuse disorders, the Board of Nursing simultaneously acknowledges that not all instances of a nurse's substance abuse require discipline:

"Not all complaints involving a nurse's ability to practice safely will require the same amount of Board intervention or will result in disciplinary action. The particular facts of each case must be carefully considered. The Board believes that substance use disorders are treatable conditions, and nurses who achieve stable recovery may be able to safely provide care to patients under certain conditions. Likewise, the Board also believes that nurses who have engaged in behaviors involving the intemperate use, misuse, or abuse of alcohol or drugs may also be able to safely provide care to patients under certain conditions."

Board Certified DWI Specialist Defends Nurses

The question, then, is how you can show the Board of Nursing that your DWI arrest does not require disciplinary action and that you remain able to provide safe and competent nursing care. If you are a nurse and have been charged with a DWI or related offense, your absolute best move is to retain the best available Board Certified DWI attorney. An experienced DWI lawyer will skillfully and effectively defend you rather than plea bargain away your professional future. But not any drunk-driving defense attorney will do. You need a Board Certified DWI attorney with extensive trial experience fighting DWI cases all over Texas. You need a DWI defense lawyer who will work to get your case dismissed while preparing your case for trial. Preparing every case for trial ensures the best defense. You need an insightful, determined DWI and criminal defense attorney ready from day one to take on your challenge.

Premier Board Certified DWI Attorney Help Available

As a nurse facing a Texas DWI charge, the attorney you need is Board Certified and nationally recognized DWI attorney Doug Murphy. Doug Murphy travels all over Texas, representing medical professionals charged with DWIs, including doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners. He has extensive DWI trial experience. He knows all the applicable DWI laws, rules, regulations, and procedures. He knows the courts, the judges, and the prosecutors and their methods.

Doug Murphy also has substantial knowledge of DWI science and toxicology, including the problems with breath and blood analyses, laboratory errors, and the subjectivity and other problems associated with field sobriety tests. His results prove his determination, skill, and experience. Doug Murphy is so widely known and respected that he travels across the nation teaching other lawyers how to fight for their DWI clients' rights and freedom. Houston area lawyers have voted Doug Murphy the Best Lawyers in America Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI Defense, as published in US News and World Report. Call 713-229-8333 or contact us online now to retain the premier Texas DWI defense attorney Doug Murphy for the best possible outcome to your DWI charge.

Board of Nursing Ethical Standards Govern Nurse Discipline

The Texas Nursing Practice Act establishes the Texas Board of Nursing to adopt and enforce nursing ethical standards governing nursing practice in the state. These standards apply to all nurses, including licensed vocational nurses (LVNs), registered nurses (RNs), and registered nurses with advanced practice authorizations. Texas Code Section 301.453 specifically authorizes the Board of Nursing to investigate, charge, and suspend or revoke the licenses of nurses who do not meet the Board's ethical standards. The Texas Board of Nursing has adopted elaborate administrative rules carrying out this statutory authority. The Board of Nursing's administrative rules include provisions governing disciplinary complaints and proceedings. The Board's disciplinary rules include specific provisions on the licensure of nurses with criminal convictions, the good professional character necessary to retain a license, and the factors for imposing discipline.

Nursing Ethical Standards Implicate DWI Charges

The Texas Nursing Practice Act and the administrative rules the Texas Board of Nursing has adopted under the Act require all LVNs, RNs, and advanced practice RNs to conform to all professional rules and regulations, including all federal, state, and local laws, rules, and regulations that impact nursing practice. That requirement to follow applicable law means that the Board of Nursing may discipline a nurse for a DWI conviction. Deviation from Board standards, including the personal and professional issues that a DWI charge can represent, can result in action against the nurse's license, right up to suspension and revocation.

A DWI charge can prompt a Board of Nursing investigation to discover if you failed to adhere to nursing ethical standards and if that failure is enough to question your fitness to care for patients. You may require representation not only in your DWI criminal court proceeding but in your Board of Nursing licensing proceeding. DWI attorney Doug Murphy can provide you with that dual representation.

Must You Report a DWI Conviction to the Board of Nursing?

Yes. If you plead guilty at your arraignment on a DWI charge, or if you accept a plea offer to plead guilty to a DWI, you must report your DWI conviction to the Texas Board of Nursing. That's another reason why you should never plead guilty at arraignment. Many individuals charged with DWIs plead guilty when they could have retained a skilled and experienced DWI defense attorney to pursue dismissal of or acquittal on the charge.

The Texas Board of Nursing requires that you self-report a DWI or related conviction to the Nursing Board, at least when you renew your nursing license, if not before. But a DWI charge is not a DWI conviction. A DWI charge is only the prosecutor's allegation that you committed the DWI crime, not the court's finding that you did so. And you do not have to report a DWI charge unless you suffer a conviction. Retain a DWI lawyer to advise you on whether, when, and how to report a DWI charge or conviction, to both the Board of Nursing and your employer. DWI attorney Doug Murphy has extensive experience not only in defending DWI charges in criminal court but also in representing nurses and other medical professionals in disciplinary proceedings.

When a Nurse Discloses a DWI Conviction Matters

Texas generally requires nurses to renew their licenses every two years. Your license renewal means that timely disclosure on the license renewal application is of the essence when reporting a DWI conviction. If you fail to disclose a DWI conviction at your nursing license's renewal, Board of Nursing officials will likely learn of the conviction from the prosecutor's report or in their routine search of criminal background records. And if disciplinary officials confirm that you failed to disclose a DWI conviction, you can expect harsher disciplinary penalties. Remember: the cover-up is often worse than the crime. If, on the other hand, you timely and fully disclose a DWI conviction, you have a better opportunity to explain your conviction with mitigating information. You may be able to show that your DWI is a one-time, isolated matter that does not impact your fitness or good character to practice nursing.

Retain a skilled and experienced DWI defense lawyer to advise you on how best to disclose a DWI conviction, including what to do to minimize the conviction's potential impact on your nursing license. Your disclosure of a DWI conviction will trigger a disciplinary review and investigation. But as the above Board of Nursing statement on substance abuse indicates, disciplinary officials will weigh several factors when deciding whether to discipline. And you have the right to retain a DWI attorney to assist you in advocating those factors.

What Happens in a Texas Board of Nursing DWI Investigation?

A Texas Board of Nursing investigation into your DWI conviction will not redetermine whether you committed the DWI crime on which the court convicted you. The Board's disciplinary officials will instead accept the court's determination beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the DWI crime with which the court charged you. But disciplinary officials are generally less concerned with the crime than with whether the crime indicates your unfitness under the Board of Nursing's practice standards. The Board of Nursing has in the past assumed that any criminal conduct, even a first-time DWI arising out of an isolated event, violates its standards. And the Board may continue to assume so unless your retained DWI lawyer shows the Board that your DWI conviction does not affect your nursing practice. That question is what makes a disciplinary proceeding so important to your nursing future.

Whether a DWI Violates Texas Board of Nursing Standards

Generally, any felony or misdemeanor conviction, other than a Class C misdemeanor, that involves moral turpitude associated with nursing practice violates the Board's nursing standards. For example, a DWI can directly relate to your nursing practice if the DWI indicates that you have an ongoing substance abuse disorder that could place patients at risk. If the DWI is your second, third, or subsequent offense, then surely you will have a harder time convincing disciplinary officials that you do not have a substance abuse problem that could affect your nursing practice just as it affects your driving. On the other hand, disciplinary officials may conclude that your DWI does not at all relate to your nursing practice if you show that the DWI was a one-time, isolated, first DWI offense giving no indication whatsoever of a substance abuse problem affecting your nursing fitness and character. Yet under any of these circumstances, you should retain a skilled and experienced DWI attorney who knows the Board of Nursing's disciplinary process and can help you pursue a strategic course to minimize the impact of your DWI on your nursing future.

Texas Board of Nursing General Disciplinary Procedures

The Texas Board of Nursing must generally give a nurse reasonable notice and a fair opportunity to respond before suspending or revoking a nursing license over a DWI conviction. You have constitutional rights to due process to protect your property and liberty interest in your nursing license. Your retained DWI defense attorney should be able to help you invoke a hearing before appointed officials to determine whether you should face discipline related to your DWI conviction. The Board's other general investigation procedures, including witness interviews and testimony and review of employment and other records, may enable your DWI lawyer to preserve your nursing license against disciplinary suspension or revocation.

Texas Board of Nursing Disciplinary Procedures for DWI Convictions

Fortunately, though, you may have additional special procedures available to you to protect your nursing license against a DWI conviction than the general procedures the Texas Board of Nursing offers any nurse facing disciplinary charges. The Texas Board of Nursing's policy on discipline for substance abuse issues provides special procedures relating to DWI convictions and other suspected substance abuse issues. Under Board Rule 213.33, disciplinary officials may request your physical or psychological evaluation and that you participate in a program of education or counseling, agree to medical or substance abuse treatment, and abstain from drugs and alcohol while submitting to periodic or random alcohol and drug testing.

What Discipline Can the Board of Nursing Impose for a DWI?

If the Texas Board of Nursing determines that you violated its ethical standards for the practice of nursing in connection with your DWI conviction, Board Rule 213.33 authorizes any of the following forms of discipline:

  • Private warning and private or public reprimand;
  • Public service as a condition of retaining the license;
  • Nursing license suspension or revocation;
  • Refusal to renew an expiring nursing license;
  • License probation pending your completion of terms;
  • Restrictions on your nursing license and practice;
  • Nursing practice only under another licensed nurse's supervision;
  • Mandatory alcohol and drug testing and treatment;
  • Completion of a peer review and assistance program; and/or
  • Fines and costs of the disciplinary proceeding.

What Licensed Nurses Should Do After Arrest on a DWI Charge

You have several critical things you can and should do if you are a licensed nurse facing a DWI charge. Two things, though, will get you started off on the right foot. First, you have a right to remain silent when arrested and facing a DWI charge. If you are an RN or LVN charged with a DWI or related offense, you should first know that you should not say anything to anyone, especially the police. Do not speak with the police at the time of your arrest or anytime thereafter. As your Miranda rights warn, anything you say, the police and prosecution can and will use against you. Police and disciplinary officials may also use against you anything you say to friends and colleagues whom officials later question during investigations. Then, at your first opportunity, you should retain the best available Board Certified DWI Specialist attorney.

Contact Our Houston DWI Lawyer for Nurse License Defense

Premier Houston DWI attorney Doug Murphy is available for your DWI defense not only in the criminal court but also in your nurse licensing proceeding before the Texas Board of Nursing. Attorney Murphy knows what you face and how to help you achieve your best possible outcome. He is one of only two Texas attorneys who are Board Certified in Criminal Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and in DWI Defense by the ABA-recognized National College for DUI Defense. Houston area lawyers have voted Attorney Murphy the Best Lawyers in America Houston Lawyer of the Year for DWI Defense. Call 713-229-8333 or reach out online for the best available DWI and nurse license defense.

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