The Potential Effects of a DUI Conviction on Professionals
If You are a Professional, a DUI Conviction Can Have Potentially Devastating Consequences
You Can Lose Your Medical, Law, CDL, Financial or Other Professional License After a DUI Conviction.
The degree on your wall. The stethoscope around your shoulders. The CDL tucked safely in your wallet. These items represent more than your job. They represent years of dedication and sacrifice to your profession. They represent your future. Unfortunately, many licensed professionals don’t consider the impact even a minor criminal charge can have on their profession. From reprimand to suspension, don’t forfeit your education, livelihood, and future for a single lapse in judgment.
Every licensed professional in Ohio is subject to a unique set of professional responsibility guidelines applicable to their chosen vocation. Whether national, state-based, or local, these guidelines represent an additional layer of “law” governing your professional license. Medical professionals, electricians, financial advisors, attorneys, teachers, and public servants may lose more than their driver’s licenses after an Ohio DUI. Each occupation’s governing board dictates internal judicial procedures for adjudicating a professional complaint, and the way in which you handle a disciplinary inquiry is almost as important as the facts themselves.
Licensed Ohio professionals facing DUI charges should immediately contact an experienced Columbus DUI defense attorney who looks beyond the courthouse. The skilled OVI/DUI defense attorneys at the Joslyn Law Firm are among a select group of Ohio defense attorneys who take a holistic approach to your DUI defense. We fight for more than just dismissal, as DUI charges alone often trigger a professional investigation. Instead, we diligently review the regulations applicable to your profession and fight to ensure your rights are protected both in court and before your professional Board.
How Ohio OVI/DUI Charges Impact Medical Professionals
There are few, if any, professions subject to more stringent occupational regulations, and it’s easy to understand why. Medical professionals are often the last line of defense between life and death. They see patients at their most vulnerable, and their first task is to “do no harm.” Complete sobriety is essential to the practice of medicine, as a single miscalculation can result in a patient’s life-altering injuries or death. A DUI/OVI arrest may call your medical judgment into question even if it’s completely unrelated to the practice of medicine.
The Impact of a DUI on Doctors, Specialized Medical Assistants, and Alternative Health Providers
The State Medical Board of Ohio regulates licensure of the following medical professionals:
- Doctor of Medicine (MD or OD)
- Doctor of Podiatric Medicine (DPM)
- Cosmetic Therapists
- Oriental Medicine
- Medical Marijuana Licensure (CTR)
- Physician Assistants (PA)
- Radiology Assistants
- Respiratory Care Specialists
- Clinical Researchers
- Anesthesiologist Assistants
- Genetic Counselors, and
- Medical Volunteers
Notably absent are psychologists, pharmacist, paramedics, nurses, and dentists, who are regulated by independent boards but held to similar guidelines.
The State Medical Board adheres to its own “disciplinary guidelines” as they interrelate with the national regulations applicable to certain medical professionals. According to the State Medical Board, “[t]here are no offenses that automatically disqualify a person from holding or receiving a license from the Medical Board.” However, the Board may place restrictions on a medical license, including permanent suspension of said license, if a certified medical professional is found guilty of (1) a felony; (2) a misdemeanor committed in the course of practice; or (3) a misdemeanor involving “moral turpitude.” Ohio and out-of-state DUI charges are equally susceptible to review by the Board. If you’re concerned about the different criminal classifications applicable to an out-of-state DUI or federal drug charges, we may be able to help.
Ohio DUI charges range from first-degree misdemeanors for first-time offenses to fourth-degree felonies for habitual offenders. In Ohio, a DUI is not per se a misdemeanor involving “moral turpitude,” and the facts of your case often determine its classification. For example, if you’re driving under the influence of dangerous illegal narcotics, with an excessive blood alcohol level, with children in your vehicle, or recklessly in a school zone, a misdemeanor DUI may be considered a crime of moral turpitude. Further, if you’re driving under the influence of medications illegal prescribed by a co-worker or arrested on your way to perform surgery, the Board may consider these factors in determining whether your DUI was linked to your profession.
Adjudicating a DUI Before the State Medical Board Disciplinary Committee
If you’ve been convicted of an Ohio OVI/DUI and you’re licensed through the Ohio State Medical Board, the disciplinary committee will individually review the facts of your case while considering the following factors:
- The nature and seriousness of the crime
- Your criminal history
- Your age
- Your overall conduct and work activity before and after the DUI
- Completion of probation or “self-help” programs
- Evidence of rehabilitation
- Cooperation with the Board, including voluntary, full disclosure of the arrest or conviction
- Any other factors the Board considers relevant, such as the circumstances surrounding the OVI/DUI, your work record, personal recommendations, and the responsibilities inherent in your profession.
You’re entitled to present both a written and oral defense before the Board takes any disciplinary action, and an experienced Ohio DUI and professional licensure attorney can ensure your rights are protected before the Board.
Surgeons, emergency room physicians, anesthesiologists, and pediatricians are more likely to face a serious disciplinary inquiry after an Ohio DUI than medical volunteers, masseurs, or cosmetic therapists. The more responsibility you’re entrusted with as a medical professional, the more likely you’ll face disciplinary sanctions without the aid of an experienced Ohio DUI attorney. While a first-offense DUI arrest that didn’t impact your work or result in bodily harm has seldom, if ever, resulted in complete loss of a medical license, failure to taken even minor DUI charges seriously may impact the Board’s decision. The Board closely considers whether the offense was self-reported, your willingness to attend rehabilitation, and your overall conduct before taking disciplinary action. In serious cases of misconduct, such as a felony DUI conviction or a DUI that resulted in bodily injury or death, voluntarily surrendering your license or agreeing to a period of suspension/supervised probation may actually save your career.
Will You Lose Your Nursing License in Ohio After an OVI/DUI?
Medical professionals know that the healthcare system would crumble without Ohio’s dedicated nurses. Nursing is a stressful, demanding, and often thankless profession, and Ohio nurses facing DUI charges deserve the same dedicated care they show their patients. The Ohio Board of Nursing controls nursing licensure in the state, and its DUI regulations are actually more stringent than those applicable to doctors and medical assistants. In Ohio, there are 11 offenses that automatically disqualify a nurse from practice, though driving under the influence is not included. However, the Board of Nursing recognizes four categories of offenses that may result in the restriction or revocation of your nursing license:
- Any Felony
- Any crime, including a misdemeanor or infraction, involving gross immorality or “moral turpitude”
- A misdemeanor drug law violation
- A misdemeanor committed in the course of practice
Unlike the State Medical Board, the Nursing Board may restrict your nursing license for a “drug law violation.” This may include driving under the influence and possession of illegal drugs even if the DUI itself is dismissed.
A DUI does not automatically result in the suspension or restriction of your nursing license. Instead, the Nursing Board reviews the facts of each individual case taking into consideration the following factors:
- Criminal history, including indicia of habitual behavior
- Restitution, i.e., you’ve paid for any damage caused by the DUI
- Probation and rehabilitation
- Your age and responsibilities
- The facts and circumstances surrounding the offense
The Nursing Board will seldom restrict a nursing license for a DUI that is not considered a “crime of moral turpitude,” and an experienced Ohio DUI defense attorney can argue that your DUI arrest does not qualify you for discipline.
By its very nature, driving under the influence involves “driving.” As such, professional drivers, conductors, and pilots are subject to harsh administrative penalties following an OVI/DUI conviction. Ohio has adopted the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) stringent DUI guidelines for commercial drivers, which means you may be charged with a DUI while operating a commercial vehicle if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.04% or more. That’s half of the non-commercial limit. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has the same standard for pilots in flight.
What happens to your CDL or pilot’s license after a DUI depends on the nature and level of the offense. Your first “on the job” DUI almost always results in an immediate suspension of your CDL or pilot’s license for one year. Any subsequent “on the job” OVI/DUI typically results in a lifetime suspension, i.e., revocation, of your CDL in Ohio. A CDL holder charged with an off-the-job, personal DUI may have his CDL suspended from anywhere 60 days to a permanent suspension. But even shorter suspensions do not guarantee you’ll maintain employment after personal DUI. Any DUI conviction and subsequent suspension order will be reported to the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles and any relevant federal agency.
The FMCSA and FAA are often bound by these mandatory suspensions. They have less discretionary authority than private employers and licensing boards to permit reinstatement; as such, it’s essential to present your best defenses to an Ohio OVI/DUI charge before judgment is entered. Commercial drivers and pilots charged with an Ohio DUI in their professional or personal capacities should immediately contact an experienced CDL DUI defense attorney at the Joslyn Law Firm before signing any paperwork or paying any applicable fines.
Will a DUI Impact my Ohio Educator’s License?
- “Engaging in an immoral act, incompetence, negligence, or conduct that is unbecoming to the applicant’s or person’s position.”
- Conviction of a felony
- Conviction of an offense of violence
- Conviction of a drug offense
- Conviction of a theft offense
The Board of Education is not required to take action. It is merely authorized to do so. You will have a chance to argue against a suspension or revocation before the Board of Education. However, notice that teachers don’t need to be “convicted” under the first disciplinary category. They merely have to “engage” in an act considered negligent, incompetent, immoral, or unbecoming of their position. Because driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol is negligence per se in Ohio, teachers may legally have their teaching license limited, suspended, or revoked after even a first DUI. While this is rare, the facts of the case often dictate the outcome. For example, a first DUI over a summer weekend may be weighted differently than a DUI arrest on the night a teacher was chaperoning senior prom. How you handle your disciplinary hearing is essential to maintaining a blemish-free teaching license. Completing a drug rehabilitation program, voluntary surrender of your driver’s license, and agreeing to temporary monitoring may encourage the Board of Education to dismiss the disciplinary complaint.
How a DUI Affects Public Safety Workers and First Responders
Police officers, firefighters, and EMTs are held to a higher standard of care than the general public. As such, each organization has a different method of handling on and off-the-job DUIs in Ohio. First responders, especially police officers with weapons permits, who receive a DUI in the line of duty will likely face immediate administrative suspension and termination. Agreeing to attend rehabilitation and cooperating with your state and local administrative authority may protect first-time offenders, but you may not be able to return to your former position. Further, most public safety workers and first responders must maintain a valid driver’s license and operate work vehicles. If your driver’s license is suspended after an Ohio DUI conviction, you may face automatic suspension or termination from your job. Protecting your income, insurance, pension, and retirement benefits is often the goal when an Ohio state worker is charged with an OVI/DUI. This may mean agreeing to take an administrative position, entering a probationary period, or attending mandatory training.
Licensed Financial Service Providers Facing Ohio DUI Charges
Anyone in financial services will tell you that “wining and dining” is part of the job. Most major financial institutions even pay for these late-night dinners. It’s difficult to balance pleasing your clients and monitoring your intake; as such, financial service providers may be faced with an unexpected DUI.
The Division of Financial Institutions (DFI) though the Ohio Department of Commerce controls financial certifications and licensure in Ohio. Certain financial and transactional convictions, such as embezzlement, fraud, and forgery, automatically disqualify offenders from holding certain financial licenses. The same is true of any crime considered a “breach of trust.” In most instances, the DFI will conduct a supplementary “character and fitness” examination after a criminal conviction. A first or second DUI likely won’t result in a suspension of your financial license, but a felony or aggravated DUI may cause the DFI to question your overall fitness to provide complex financial services.
Can I Lose My License to Practice Law after an Ohio OVI/DUI?
Ohio attorneys are tasked with maintaining the highest level of personal and professional conduct as representatives of the court. As such, a lawyer facing an Ohio DUI charge may fear for his license to practice law. The Office of Disciplinary Counsel may open an investigation into an attorney who’s criminal conduct reflects poorly on the profession, violates the rules of professional conduct, or impacts her ability to practice law. Attorneys who violate these rules may face public reprimand, suspension, or termination of their license to practice law. However, it’s no secret that alcoholism and substance abuse is a serious issue among attorneys. The Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program provides counseling, guidance, and help to Ohio attorneys struggling with alcoholism, substance abuse, and addiction. By seeking help from the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program and agreeing to work with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel, an experienced Ohio DUI defense attorney may be able to help you avoid suspension.
Charged with Drunk Driving? Contact the Joslyn Law Firm for your Free DUI Defense Consultation
When a disciplinary complaint is opened after a DUI/OVI misdemeanor conviction, the crux of the dispute is often whether your DUI qualifies as a “crime of moral turpitude.” Unfortunately, there is no universal definition of “moral turpitude,” and each Board will consider the specific facts of each case in making this decision. At the Joslyn Law Firm, we’re passionate about ensuring that a single mistake doesn’t define your character or extinguish your professional achievements.
Contacting an experienced Ohio DUI attorney at the Joslyn Law Firm immediately after your arrest may save your career. Nearly all the Ohio State licensure boards clarify that just because you’re permitted to retain your professional license doesn’t guarantee employment. A DUI conviction or mark on your professional record may cost you your job or limit your professional opportunities. Preventing a conviction may be essential to qualify for certain positions, and an Ohio OVI/DUI “conviction” includes a jury verdict, guilty plea, suspended sentence, alternative sentencing arrangement, a plea of nolo contendere, and even the simple payment of a fine.
Don’t let a DUI arrest ruin your career. Our team of experienced DUI defense attorneys can advocate on your behalf before both Ohio’s courts and your licensure boards to ensure your rights are protected and that the long-term consequences of your arrest are mitigated. To schedule your free Columbus DUI defense consultation with one of our experienced Ohio criminal defense lawyers, call us today at (614) 444-1900 or contact us online.