If you are an aspiring nurse and have a DWI on your record, you may be wondering if your future career plans might be at risk.
Although a first-time DWI is unlikely to stop you from becoming a nurse, a conviction, especially a felony, may threaten your plans. All history of criminal charges and alcohol or drug abuse must be filed in a declaratory order petition to the Board of Nursing (BoN) before it can be decided whether you are eligible for a license to practice.
What Will Happen If a Nurse Gets a DWI in Texas?
As a nurse, you are not obligated to report DWI charges to the Texas Board of Nursing if they haven’t resulted in a conviction. If you do receive a conviction, you must report this as soon as possible. Failure to do so could result in harsher decisions on your licensure. The BoN may then investigate the details of your conviction to determine whether the crime you committed raises moral turpitude concerns or casts doubt on your ability to perform your nursing duties with integrity.
Can a Nurse Lose a Nursing License for DWI in Texas?
Yes, a nurse could lose their nursing license for a DWI in Texas.
The Board of Nursing determines a person’s eligibility for a nursing license based on factors including criminal history. If a nurse in Texas is found guilty of a DWI, the BoN will carry out an investigation before deciding whether the license should be suspended, revoked, or renewed.
How Can DWI Affect a Nursing Career in Texas?
While DWI charges alone are unlikely to affect your nursing career, a conviction could be devastating to your livelihood. This is why it is so important to seek representation from an experienced DWI lawyer as soon as possible if you are facing DWI charges. A skilled lawyer may be able to help you get the charges dismissed.
At worst, a DWI conviction can lead to a revoked or suspended license. However, even if you get to keep your license, a conviction could mean that you face other consequences, including:
- Disciplinary action
- Restrictions on your nursing practice
- Mandatory alcohol or drug treatment
A DWI conviction can also cause emotional stress, embarrassment, and loss of rapport with your peers and colleagues. Remember, getting arrested for a DWI doesn’t mean it has to lead to a conviction. If you are facing DWI charges, call Michael & Associates today for a free case review.
Can You Become a Nurse with a DUI or DWI on Your Record?
While a DWI will not automatically disqualify you from becoming a nurse, a conviction will create hurdles in obtaining your license. Furthermore, a criminal record will make it difficult to find employment—given the choice between two nurses, an employer is more likely to choose someone without a criminal history.
A misdemeanor, especially for a first-time offense, is less likely to stop you from becoming a nurse than if you were to be convicted of a felony. That said, you must declare your criminal history—even misdemeanors—when applying for a placement in nursing school, for a nursing license, and employment.
Can a Nurse Have Deferred Adjudication or Get a DWI Expunged in Texas?
Although getting your DWI dismissed would be the best outcome, if you are a nurse, you can also take advantage of deferred adjudication—especially if this is your first DWI. Deferred adjudication would allow you to carry out your sentence in the community (probation) and avoid a conviction.
If the charges do not lead to a conviction, you may be able to get them expunged. In the case of deferred adjudication, you can apply for an order of nondisclosure to have your records sealed.
What Are the General Consequences of DWI for Nurses in Texas?
The consequences of a DWI conviction will depend on the circumstances of your case. First-time DWIs with no aggravating factors are classified as Class B misdemeanors.
- DWI A DWI where your BAC level is below 0.15, and there are no aggravating factors, is a Class B misdemeanor. Consequences include a fine of up to $2,000, and up to 180 days in jail.
- 2nd DWI: A second DWI is classified as a Class A misdemeanor. Consequences include a fine of up to $4,000, and up to one year in jail.
- 3rd or consequent DWI: A third-time DWI is classified as a felony of the third degree. A conviction would result in between 2 and 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of up to $10,000.
- DWI with BAC of 0.15 or higher: For a first-time DWI where your BAC registered 0.15 or higher, you will be facing a Class A misdemeanor (or higher if this is your second or subsequent offense). Consequences include a fine of up to $4,000, and up to one year in jail.
- DWI with Child Passenger: If you had a passenger aged 15 or under in your vehicle at the time you received a DWI, you will be facing a state jail felony. Consequences include up to 2 years of jail time and fines of up to $10,000.
A felony is more likely to result in the revocation or suspension of your nursing license, but even a misdemeanor is likely to hurt your career.
Ethical Standards and Communication with the Texas Board of Nursing After DWI
All practicing nurses in Texas must conform to the ethical standards outlined in the Texas Administrative Code Title 22, Part 11, Chapter 217, Rule §217.11.
Additionally, nurses must follow the rules and regulations listed in the Texas Nursing Practice Act.
Breaking any of the above rules and regulations can lead to an investigation, and ultimately the revocation of a nursing license.
While nurses do not have to reveal to the BoN if they have been arrested for a DWI, they must inform them as soon as possible when they get a conviction.
The Texas Board of Nursing will then decide if they should investigate the conviction. Consequences could include restrictions on your nursing practice, mandatory alcohol and drug treatment, participation in the Texas Peer Assistance Program for Nurses, and revocation or suspension of the nursing license.
If you are facing disciplinary action, you have the right to an attorney to ensure that your rights remain protected.
The Best Strategy to Avoid DWI Consequences for Nurses in Texas
A DWI conviction for a nurse in Texas can be devastating. At worst you can be barred from practicing the profession you have worked hard to enter. If you do keep your license, a permanent criminal record will make it more difficult to secure employment.
The best strategy for avoiding the consequences of a DWI is to fight against the charges with the help of an experienced DWI lawyer. A skilled DWI attorney may be able to have the case against you dismissed or have the charges against you reduced.
At Michael & Associates, we have several decades’ worth of experience in fighting DWIs—and a track record of success. Get in touch today to get your free case review.
Ben has vast experience in defending criminal cases ranging from DWIs to assault, drug possession, and many more. He has countless criminal charges dismissed and pled down. Among many other awards, one of the Top 10 Criminal Defense Attorneys in Texas and winner of Top 40 under 40.