If you’re a nurse who has received a DUI, you’re probably asking yourself questions about self-reporting. Specifically, do you have to report a DUI to the Indiana Board of Nursing? Nurses with a DUI may wonder what implications this will have on their career and how they will move forward.
Contact an Indiana Board of Nursing Attorney
If a nurse receives a DUI charge, they must report it to the board once their license gets renewed. In the case of the Indiana Nursing Board, the license renewal form has six questions that may involve a DUI.
These questions include:
- Since you last renewed, has any health professional license, certificate, or registration, permitted you to hold or have been disciplined, or are formal charges pending?
- Since you last renewed, have you been denied a license, certificate, registration, or permit in any state?
- Since you last renewed, except for minor traffic laws violations resulting in fines and arrests or convictions that a court has deleted. Have you been arrested or entered into a diversion agreement? Been convicted of, pled guilty to, or pled nolo contendere to any offense, misdemeanor, or felony in any state?
- Since you last renewed, have you had a malpractice judgment against you or settled a malpractice action?
- Have you been reprimanded, disciplined, demoted, or terminated in your practice or as another health care professional?
- Since you last renewed, have you been excluded from being a Medicare or Medicaid provider?
If an applicant’s answer to these questions is “yes, ” they will need to appear before the board. Additionally, the result may be a mandatory or regulatory referral to the Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program (ISNAP).
Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program
The Indiana State Nursing Assistance Program ISNAP is a free of charge program for nurses struggling with substance abuse. That helps them find solutions for recovery while allowing them to continue working.
To continue working, a nurse must sign up for ISNAP via voluntary admission or self-referral. Those admitted via mandatory admission by the board may face license suspension. They can get prevented from working as a nurse. Nurses who can work during their time with ISNAP are monitored and can remain working as long as they remain compliant with the program.
Contact Information for ISNAP
To best reach a member of ISNAP, they recommend calling their toll-free number at 844-687-7309. Additionally, you can subscribe to a monthly informational newsletter by email at info@INPRP.org.
Chelle Law Assists With Self-Reporting
If you’re a nurse in Indiana who needs assistance or if you have questions about how to report a DUI to the Indiana Board of Nursing, contact Chelle Law today.
Other Blogs of Interest
- Can You be a Nurse with a Misdemeanor Drug Charge? | Nursing
- Contacting the Indiana Board of Nursing | Indiana Nursing Contact
- Can a Felon Become a Nurse? | Nursing License Felony Conviction
Does a DUI Affect your Nursing License? | Professional License
Can a DUI affect your nursing license? As in all my other blogs, this is a general discussion. This is not state specific. Every state has its own rules and regulations as far as when and how to report. So, this will be a general discussion of the things you need to consider that may affect your nursing license if you get a DUI.
Charge vs. Conviction
First, you need to identify whether your board in nursing has a reporting requirement. For instance, our nurses must report it here in Arizona when they get charged, not even when convicted. A charge is when you get a DUI criminal case and a ticket with an arraignment date; that’s considered a charge. Sometimes, they’ll wait to charge you if they’re waiting for a blood test. But when you get charged, it just means when they decided to move forward with whatever the violations were.
A conviction is when you’re guilty, or you sign a plea agreement, or a pretrial diversion program, or at least most boards consider a pretrial diversion program a conviction. Like an end to whatever the criminal conduct was, that isn’t a complete dismissal. For the most part, those need to get reported. Now, when they need to get reported varies from state to state. Some require it upon renewal, and some require it upon conviction; then, as I said before, it’s when they get charged, regardless of whether they’re ultimately convicted. That’s the first thing you need to identify.
When Does a DUI Need to Get Reported?
Alright, when do I need to report it? If I need to report it, then how do I need to report it? For the most part, it needs to be in writing. And I would not submit a long story about all the details like I went out to dinner with Sally and had this many drinks. That is not going to help you. It would help if you stuck to the facts. I got charged with this on this date, and my arraignment date is this; I’ll supplement in the future with more information.
Or I was convicted of this on this date, which is what I’ve done. And leave it at that. You don’t want to give them any more information than you must. And the essential requirement is that you let them put them on notice of what happened criminally. Still, it doesn’t mean you must give every detail about what happened.
Is It Substance Abuse or a Deeper Issue?
Some broad thoughts on substance abuse and DUI: the biggest concern of any board of nursing is that if you get a DUI case, you have a substance abuse issue. The stated purpose of nearly every board of nursing is not to protect the nurses. It’s to protect the public. And so, they don’t want a nurse with substance abuse issues providing patient health care. Now, just because you have one DUI doesn’t mean that you have substance abuse issues, but it could be that you do. Let me say this delicately. I always speak to people with what I would consider chronic drinking problems. And they think it’s terrific. For example, if you have a six-pack or a bottle of wine every night, the board of nursing will consider that a substance abuse problem.
Suppose you just went out, went to dinner, had a few drinks with friends, you occasionally drink socially a couple of times a month. In that case, you don’t drink too much intoxication; that’s just regular alcohol consumption. That’s not a substance abuse problem, but the board will think that no matter what, they will start at this person as an alcoholic and then work their way down. So, suppose it’s just your first-time regular DUI. In that case, you have a relatively low BAC, and most boards of nursing aren’t going to formally discipline a nurse for something like that. If it’s a third DUI case and you had a super extreme BAC level here in Arizona, that’s above 0.2.
What Will Happen if a Nurse Commits Third DUI?
The board is going to be concerned. And what the board would do here is have the nurse undergo a substance abuse evaluation with the psychologist. Then that psychologist would write recommendations to the board. And then, the board would incorporate those recommendations into probation if they thought they had substance abuse issues. It’s implausible that a nurse with a low-level DUI will lose their nursing license. I mean, it’s infrequent.
There must be more underlying things to end up with that result. But, if you have chronic problems, a criminal problem with alcohol or drugs, that could lead to a board decision. We don’t want this person to provide healthcare anymore. Now, they’re almost always going to give the nurse at least the option of going on probation or entering a confidential monitoring program. Most states call it an alternative to discipline or something like that. In a worst-case scenario, at least at the beginning, you’d have the option of doing that.
Confidential Monitoring Program
Where most nurses get in trouble with persistent problems with alcohol, they’re in the confidential monitoring medical programs, have a positive drug screen for alcohol, and get kicked out of that program. They get put on formal disciplinary probation. The same thing happens, then they get their nursing license suspended. And then, if you continue to violate the terms of the probation, it could end up in revocation. If you’ve had one DUI criminal case as a nurse, it will not end your career. It’s most likely not going to prohibit you from getting jobs in the future.
You must be aware of this. You cannot let it happen again, but if you screwed up, I find the best defense for people who have screwed up, and it’s a lower-level thing, is to admit, you know what? I just made the wrong decision. I don’t have a drinking problem if it’s just one night, and I’ve learned from it. These are the things I’ve learned from it. These are the things I’ll do now to prevent it. And then, this is what I will do in the future. And that’s what most boards of nursing want to hear. Is that if there is an identifiable problem, you have learned from it and then incorporated that into your practice and move forward in the future.
Can You Be a Nurse With a DUI? | Nursing License DUI
First, let’s talk about what it means to have a DUI. You could’ve been charged with the DUI but never convicted. That’s not going to prevent you from becoming a nurse. I’m just talking about convictions here, meaning you either pled guilty through a plea agreement, went to trial, lost, and were found guilty. That’s what I mean. Or, maybe you reached a pretrial diversion program, which most boards consider a guilty outcome. Now, first, this is just general information. Every state has its own specific rules as far as kind of criminal background.
Thinking of Enrolling or Just Enrolled in a Nursing School?
Background. I never thought about it. Can you get your license? So, delay any significant fear. 99 times out of 100, yes, if you have a DUI in your past, you’ll still be able to get your nursing license. Now, it may be under some conditions. Still, it’s infrequent unless it’s a felony DUI that would prevent you from getting your nursing license completely. Let’s just kind of break down what a board will search for if you have a past drunk driving incident.
Usually, when you apply state-specific, it’ll say, have you had any convictions regarding substance abuse or alcohol or something like that? A DUI is, yes, considered one of those. And it’s going to say, alright, tell us when it happened, where it happened, and give us a short statement about what happened. And then they may even want the nurse to provide them with a criminal record. There are two parts to any record of the police documents and the court documents.
And they’re separate. They are usually not in the same place. You’ll have to request them from both. Once you have all of that, you’ve submitted a statement, then depending upon the length of time that you elapsed since you had the DUI, what your BAC was. Do you have three DUIs versus one? Do you have any other kind of substance abuse-related, some drug charges, possession sales, a lot of disorderly conduct, or domestic violence-related incidents involving alcohol?
Is It One DUI or an Underlying Substance Abuse?
Suppose there are any major red flags beyond that I’ve had one regular DUI in my past. Then what a board will typically do is they’re going to investigate. The investigation will be kind of a review of all of the criminal and court documents. And then they’ll usually ask to speak to the nurse. What happened here? What was going on in your life at the time? Did you have to do any rehabilitation? Did you go into rehab, maybe an IOP, or have you been doing AA? What are your current drinking habits?
Those are the questions they’re going to ask to determine whether you have a problem or not. I mean, the stated purpose of every board of nursing is to protect the public, not the nurse. They’re not there for you. They’re there to protect the public.
Suppose they’re going to license somebody with a criminal background involving a DUI. In that case, they want to ensure that you don’t continue to have substance abuse-related problems that may bleed into the clinical side of providing patient healthcare. Or, if you had issues in the past, you must fix them somehow. As I said before, doing rehab or an IOP or counseling, AA, all those things.
The Number of DUIs Matter
Just because you’ve had one DUI in your past doesn’t mean you need to do all those things. Well, you probably don’t need to go to rehab or AA or do anything if you just had one DUI 10 years ago and made a stupid decision. Now, if you’ve had three DUIs and you had a very high, like over 0.2 BAC, at least in Arizona, it’s a super extreme DUI.
Yes, you probably need to do those things to show the board that you have dealt with the issues and that you no longer have those problems. They’re going to ask about all your current drinking habits, so how much do you drink now? When I talk to a nurse and say, okay, you’ve had one DUI, fine. It’s a grand scheme of things. That’s not a big deal, but what are your current drinking habits? And they say I drink a six-pack every night before bed. Okay, but most boards will describe that as someone with a substance abuse problem.
Think of them as the parish organization; anything above regular social drinking will shoot up red flags for them. Now, suppose they think you may have an issue. In that case, some boards will have a nurse get a substance abuse evaluation from a psychologist. Maybe a substance abuse counselor to get an opinion on whether they have any substance abuse problems. And whether that professional believes they need a monitoring program.
Worst Case Scenario for Nurses Who’ve Had a DUI
That’s usually, the worst-case scenario for a nurse with DUI in their background is that the board will essentially force them to go on probation for a period. And they’ll grant the license simultaneously. They’ll say, yes, you can be a nurse, but you’ll be on probation for 12 months and have to do random drug screens, AA, recovery group, and supervision at work. You can’t use your multi-state privilege if your state offers that.
That’s usually the worst-case scenario for a nurse to get denied entirely a license based upon a single DUI in their past is extraordinarily rare. Almost for sure would-be other factors involved beyond just that one incident. So, take a deep breath. If you’ve had one DUI, it doesn’t mean the end of the world, and it doesn’t mean you’re never going to get a nursing license, but there may be some things you’ll have to explain.
Suppose you do have an extensive criminal history. In that case, it’s probably a good idea to contact an attorney in your state who handles the board stuff or devises a plan. Do I need to do these things before applying for my license? That would make the most sense. As I said before, I’m only in Arizona, so I can only assist nurses here in Arizona. But this is good general advice for any nurse who had a DUI.