Arizona Optometry Board Appeals
It’s always disappointing when an optometrist receives an unfavorable decision from the Arizona Optometry Board (“AOB“). However, optometrists in Arizona can benefit from understanding the process that goes along with Arizona Optometry Board appeals and hearings after a case is heard by the Board. If you are facing an unfavorable outcome due to an offered disciplinary action, consent agreement or order, you can always appeal the decision and request an administrative hearing before the Office of Administrative Hearings.
Filing an Appeal after an Optometry Board Meeting
The investigatory process and the appeal process work like this: Once the Board receives a complaint or self-report they will then initiate an investigation into the Arizona optometrist license. The purpose of this investigation is to give the AOB evidence to make a decision on whether or not an optometrist should face disciplinary action. If the optometrist receives an unfavorable formal disciplinary decision, it is at this point, they can then file an appeal and request a hearing with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearing. An Administrative Law Judge will then oversee the appeal and the optometrist may need to attend a hearing. However, sometimes the investigation is automatically sent to hearing or an informal settlement conference can be held (if requested).
Arizona Administrative Appeal and Hearing
Any optometrist licensee may request a legal appeal of the Board’s Discipline to an administrative law judge with the Arizona Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH) which is located in Phoenix. In some instances, a case is sent automatically to OAH. The Arizona’s OAH hearing is conducted before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ). The administrative process is not as formal as a trial, but is similar. Each party presents evidence using documents or sworn testimony. Each party also gives an opening and closing argument which should explain why the judge should rule one way or the other. An optometrist’s attorney can cross examine witnesses and testify on his or her behalf. After it is completed, the ALJ reviews the transcripts, evidence and makes a recommendation. However, the Board makes the decision to either accept, reject or modify the ALJ’s decision. If an individuals feels there has been a mistake they can request a rehearing by appealing the decision.
Criminal Reporting Requirements for an Optometrist
A.R.S. 32-3208 requires that optometry licensees and applicants for an optometrist license must report misdemeanor criminal charges involving conduct that may affect patient safety or a felony to the Arizona Optometry Board within 10 working days after the charge is filed. A working day would be considered Monday through Friday. Failure to report a reportable criminal charge within 10 business days is a violation of the Arizona statutes.
What Current and Past Crimes Must Be Reported?
Arizona Optometry Board Criminal Reporting rules hold that a felony must be reported within 10 days of being charged. The following types of misdemeanor or other criminal histories are crimes that have been determined by the Board to be reportable pursuant to the chapter in A.RS § 32-3208:
- Assault and Related Offenses
- Theft and Related Offenses
- Fraud, Deceit and Related Offenses
- Abuse, Neglect, Exploitation of a Child or Vulnerable Adult and Related Offenses
- Sexual and Related Offenses
- Drug and/or Alcohol Related Offenses
- Arson and Related Offenses
- Animal Abuse, Cruelty and Related Offenses
Failure to report a reportable criminal charge within 10 business days is a violation of the Arizona Medical Practice Act and could result in disciplinary action which could result in Arizona Optometry’s Probation.
DUI Criminal History
Optometrists who contact our office frequently ask our attorney’s if state law allows an optometrist with a DUI crime or conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Optometry Board? The short answer is yes. An Arizona Optometrist DUI will not necessarily prevent an optometrist from obtaining a license or a career in the health field. However, the Board (which handles all complaints) has a public policy (updated as of September 2020) on their website which covers the details of what circumstances optometrists with a case that resulted in a felony DUI criminal conviction can get licensed.
Professional License Criminal Consequences
This specific policy does not apply to criminal conduct involving misdemeanor DUI charges or convictions. Once an optometry professional applies for a license to practice to the Arizona Optometry Board, they need to disclose any felony DUI criminal court convictions (from previous years) on their application. An optometrist must report a felony DUI no matter how much time or how many years have passed since the time of the conviction or case. The AZ Board may also ask about past DUI misdemeanor criminal charges or cases that resulted in a conviction. This is done to ensure an optometrist can perform safe patient care and can have safe direct contact with patients or other providers.
Disclosing a Criminal Record for a Professional Applicant
If an optometry license applicant is not required to disclose a legal misdemeanor DUI, the AZ Board can still initiate an investigation based upon the results of a health care fingerprint background check. The Board will then contact the professional and initiate an investigation in their practice utilizing the law of the AZ Medical Practice Act. This license investigation determines whether the optometrist is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems and whether the optometrist has rehabilitated in the time since the criminal misdemeanor DUI or DUI charges occurred. Simply, the Board wants to know whether the applicant can provide safe training care with a past criminal case involving alcohol or substance abuse.
The attorneys at Chelle Law assist optometrists with interpreting Board policy (which is generally on the Board website). Our attorneys help optometrists with their application to show the Board the professional isn’t a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public and is able to provide safe athlete care.
If you’re interested in learning more about our Arizona Optometry Board Attorney services and how to protect your license, set up a consultation with Chelle Law today.