Getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks often can feel rationalized in the moment but may come back to bite you afterward. Not only can you face criminal charges from drunk driving, but if you are a registered nurse, it can affect your job.

The consequences of a DUI

In California, a DUI is a misdemeanor. Fines can be between $390 and $1,000, along with potential jail time, probation and license suspension. If there are injuries involved in your DUI, it may be either a misdemeanor or a felony.

Reporting to the Board of Nursing

Alcohol and drug abuse can quickly become an issue in your professional life. As a Registered Nurse, you have the obligation to report certain events to the California Board of Nursing. You must report traffic violations and automobile accidents if your ticket was $1,000 or more. You must always report convictions involving alcohol or controlled substances. This includes a DUI.

You will have to send a written explanation of what happened, including the date, time, arrest, court proceedings, sentencing information and other punishments. This should include any documents related to the arrest and conviction, like police reports and court orders. Finally, include any other information that you feel is applicable, like evidence of rehabilitation.

The penalties of a DUI for your nursing career

The Board of Nursing may take disciplinary action against you after a conviction. This can include license denial, suspension, probation or revocation. Issues with your nursing license mean that you may not be able to practice and will be out of work. This can be difficult for anyone to go through, financially and emotionally.

It is possible that you may lose your nursing license and the ability to help people in the way you know best. However, revocation is not automatic, and you may have the opportunity to avoid it. It may be helpful to talk with an attorney about your DUI and how to help protect your nursing license.