DWI Charges for Licensed Professionals
Licensed medical professionals such as doctors and nurses are considered to be highly-esteemed members of the community. However, a medical professional’s reputation and capabilities are questioned when he or she faces a criminal DWI charge. DWI charges may threaten the employment and licensing of a medical professional. Factors to consider in a pending DWI charge are:
- Driver’s license suspension or revocation
- Reputation of the practice of the medical professional
- Taking time off work to challenge the DWI
The Authority of Licensing Boards
The impact a DWI charge or conviction may have on one’s professional life depends on the circumstances of the case. The Texas Medical Board and the Texas Board of Nursing lack the authority to discipline one’s license for a DWI arrest by itself. Under the Medical Practice Act, licensing boards lack the jurisdiction to impose discipline for a DWI offense alone as it is neither a felony nor a crime of moral turpitude. Under this legislation, licensing boards must conduct investigations following a medical professional’s DWI arrest to determine whether there is a relationship between the DWI and his or her conduct at work.
Texas Medical Board
The Texas Medical Board requires a doctor to have committed unprofessional conduct in addition to the DWI charge to have his or her medical license suspended or revoked. Unprofessional conduct includes:
- Use of drugs or alcohol in a manner that endangers a patient’s life
- Suffering from a medical or physical condition, such as addiction
After the DWI arrest and upon review of any unprofessional conduct, the Medical Board will conduct its own investigation. During the investigation process, the panel reviewing the medical professional’s conduct will schedule an informal settlement conference with the doctor. If the doctor is able to show that the DWI was an isolated incident or a genuine mistake, the case may result in recommendation of dismissal with no disciplinary action to follow. However, if the panel suspects a habitual behavior pattern, it may present a disciplinary order to the physician. A disciplinary order may contain requirements such as:
- Blood alcohol testing
- Substance abuse treatment
- Alcohol education programs
- Psychological evaluations
- License suspension or revocation
Texas Board of Nursing
The Texas Board of Nursing also conducts its own investigations to determine whether license restriction or discipline is necessary following a DWI charge. Discipline can only be imposed if the charge “directly relates to the duties and responsibilities of the license holder.” In determining whether disciplinary action must be taken, the Board of Nursing will weigh factors such as:
- The relationship of the crime to the purposes for requiring a license to engage in the occupation and
- The relationship of the crime to the ability, capacity, and fitness required to perform the duties and
- Discharge the responsibilities of the licensed occupation
Even if the designated licensing board does not penalize the medical professional for his or her DWI charge, the employer is allowed to terminate the employee as Texas is an at-will employment state.
Have You Been Charged With a DWI?
If you are a medical professional who has been charged with or convicted of a criminal DWI offense, you may be at risk of losing your employment, your medical license, and your driver’s license. With these factors at stake, it is important to seek an experienced team of DWI trial attorneys to assist you in challenging your DWI. The Wilder DWI Defense Firm is equipped has a team of highly-experienced attorneys with proven track record of success. Contact the Wilder DWI Defense Firm today to schedule your free consultation.
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