How Will a DUI Affect My Professional License in Texas?
Driving while intoxicated is a serious charge for anyone. It can be all the more severe for a professional who relies on a clean record to keep their professional license. If you are charged with DUI in Texas, your state licensing board will investigate your case to determine what licensing penalties should be brought against you. You might wonder, “Will a DUI affect my professional license?”
Having a DUI defense lawyer who understands how criminal law fits into professional licensing standards can be a major benefit for your defense. At Leichter Law, our team has significant experience in criminal cases involving licensed professionals. To schedule a free consultation with Leichter Law in Austin and Houston, please call our office at 512-495-9995 today.
Will a DUI Affect Your Professional License?
The effect of a DUI arrest on your professional license will depend on several different factors. You could be facing a temporary suspension or the permanent revocation of your license. The actions taken by your licensing board may depend upon:
- The type of professional license you possess
- The regulations of your licensing board
- Your criminal history
- The circumstances of your criminal case
When constructing your DUI defense, it is important to consider how a defense strategy may affect your professional licensure. At the Leichter Law Firm, we understand this, and are prepared to work with you to minimize the impact of your arrest on your practice. Whether you are guilty or innocent of your DUI charge, we can help you navigate the legal complexities of licensing defense.
Why Does a DUI Affect My License to Practice?
Almost every professional licensing board has strict rules permitting the investigation and discipline of licensees if they receive a drug or DUI conviction. Many people wonder why these convictions affect one’s license if it doesn’t affect their ability to do their job.
First, convictions related to DUIs or drug use point to a substance abuse problem from the licensing board’s point of view. Most professional organizations like these have specific rules regarding DUI cases and substance abuse. This is because having a substance abuse problem could jeopardize one’s judgment and performance, which could then affect the health or well-being of others. To put it simply, presumed substance abuse problems cast doubt on your competency as a licensed professional.
Additionally, professional licenses signal to the public that you are someone to be trusted in your line of work. By issuing you a professional license, the state board essentially vouches for your character and competency. When any professional is convicted of a DUI for drug or alcohol abuse, this breaks the public’s trust in that individual.
DUI arrests and convictions are particularly serious, as they can severely damage your credibility. This is why professional license boards take investigations of these cases very seriously. The purpose of these investigations is to determine whether or not the individual in question is still a trustworthy and competent professional.
Which Professional Licenses Are Affected by a DUI or DWI Conviction?
As we mentioned before, most boards that oversee professional licenses will have regulations regarding DUI convictions and charges. This is true in virtually every state. In fact, this is such a common issue that many people assume their license would be at risk for disciplinary actions regardless of what professional license they have.
However, certain professions are held to an even higher standard than others regarding having a DUI criminal conviction. Those in these professions may even face harsher professional and criminal penalties for a DUI offense. Examples of these professions include the following.
- Healthcare professionals and those who dispense or handle medications (such as nurses, doctors, pharmacists, dentists, optometrists, and even podiatrists)
- Professions which involve driving (such as real estate agents, EMTs, and more)
- Professions with high levels of individual trust and responsibility (such as accountants, attorneys, mental health professionals, teachers, daycare owners, and veterinarians)
What Should I Do After Being Charged with a DUI or DWI?
If you have received criminal charges for a DUI, but you have not yet been convicted, it is crucial to speak with an Austin criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The longer you wait to build a strong defense, the less time your attorney will have to prepare for your case. For licensed professionals, being charged with a DUI is bad enough. If the situation results in a DUI conviction, this could lead to license suspension, revocation, or further penalties.
Even if you have an otherwise clean criminal record, it only takes one criminal conviction to lead to disciplinary action. Speak with an attorney as soon as possible to have the best chance of preventing negative consequences from affecting your professional license or future employment opportunities.
What Specific Actions Can Trigger an Investigation by the Licensing Board?
DUI convictions are a matter of public record, which makes it very easy for licensing boards to keep up with whether or not professionals have been convicted of a DUI. When boards learn of these convictions, they launch investigations into that individual soon after. Some specific actions that may trigger this investigation include the following.
- Police report or the court reports the conviction to your professional licensing board. This is an automatic process in many states.
- Many state licensing boards require licensees to self-report their DUI convictions. If you fail to do so and the licensing board finds out, they may investigate the situation. In fact, many of these boards require licensees to self-report a DUI arrest. When self-reporting is mandatory, failing to do so could constitute grounds for disciplinary action.
- You were convicted of a DUI in the past, and the licensing board discovered this during a background check.
- Another individual, such as a client, patient, coworker, or employer discovers the conviction and files a complaint with the licensing board.
- Reporting arrests, charges, or convictions is usually required at the time of license renewal.
What Should I Do After a DUI Conviction?
If you are charged or convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, we recommend speaking with a Texas license defense attorney if you do not already have one. A DUI conviction can not only disrupt your driving privileges, but it can also disrupt your career. Even a small mistake in defending your license can result in failure, so it’s best to work with a skilled attorney from the start. You don’t have to stand by and watch as one misstep or misunderstanding derails your life and career.
Can a Conviction from Another State Affect My Current License?
Yes. Any criminal conviction that you receive becomes a part of public record. When licensing boards run background checks, they are still likely to see convictions that occurred in other states. Again, many boards require full disclosure of any past convictions while applying, as well as convictions while you have an active license.
Additionally, if you are licensed in one state and convicted of a crime in another, the board that issued your license can still take disciplinary measures against you.
If I Am Arrested for a DUI, But It Doesn’t Lead to a Conviction, Is My License Still at Risk?
Possibly. Many licensing boards view arrests as reflections of one’s character. It is difficult to predict what a board may decide unless we review the facts on a case-by-case basis. In general, however, convictions will carry much more weight than arrests. In some situations, you may even be let off with a verbal warning.
That being said, it is always in your best interest to speak with an attorney as soon as you are accused, charged, convicted, or arrested. When we evaluate your case, we’ll look at the totality of the circumstances of your case before offering counsel. The sooner you seek legal help, the sooner you can craft a defense, if necessary.
Can Sealed or Expunged Convictions Still Affect Your License?
It is possible, but highly unlikely. Generally, expungements give individuals the legal right to deny having been convicted of a crime if asked. However, certain licensing boards still require disclosure of expunged records. Again, we recommend consulting an attorney to determine which course of action is best for your situation.
What Is the Disciplinary Process for DWI or Drug Charges?
Most licensing boards follow similar procedures for disciplinary actions, although each board will have its own defined process. If you are charged or convicted of a DUI, you can expect the following.
- Investigation into your conviction: The board receives a notice of conviction and investigates the details surrounding the incident.
- Negotiation of agreed order: After investigation, the board might offer a consent order as an option aside from a formal hearing. This is an agreement between the licensee, the board, and the state in which the licensee accepts full responsibility and agrees to the proposed disciplinary actions.
- Formal hearing before the board or a judge: If the consent order is not offered, or if someone does not agree to it, a formal hearing occurs. This occurs either before the board or in front of an administrative law judge.
- Final decision of disciplinary action: Then, the board decides whether to take adverse action against the licensee, as well as what that action will be.
- Filing an appeal: The licensee then has the right to appeal the decision in an appellate court.
Am I Certain to Lose My License After a DUI or Drug Conviction?
Not necessarily. Although a conviction is by no means a good thing, it won’t immediately spell the end of your license or career. The board may decide to dismiss the case or impose a lesser disciplinary action. Having a good defense attorney can help increase the likelihood of this. Examples of actions other than license revocation include the following.
- License suspension
- Payment of fines and fees
- License restriction
- Mandatory substance abuse treatment
- Formal or verbal warning
- Community service
- Probationary period
Do I Need a License Defense Attorney?
While you are not required to hire an attorney, it is in your best interest to do so. First, license defenses are legal matters. Without the right knowledge and experience, it is all too easy to make a small mistake and jeopardize your case. Getting legal advice is the best way to protect your license.
Secondly, the licensing board will not be on your side. These problems won’t go away simply by explaining the situation to the board. This is because the board protects the public – not the licensee. They will take your allegations very seriously, and hiring an attorney will show that you do too.
Lastly, you are immediately at a disadvantage if you try to face the board alone. They understand their own rules and procedures far better than the average licensee. Working with a license defense lawyer, however, will give you the edge you need.
When to Hire an Attorney for a DUI or Drug Conviction
You can benefit from working with an attorney at any stage of the process, from accusation to conviction to license defense or appeal. Specific instances in which you would benefit from legal counsel include the following.
- After a charge or arrest for a DUI or drug crime
- Before self-reporting to the board
- When you receive a notice of the board opening an investigation into your case
Contact a Texas DUI Defense Lawyer with Leichter Law Today
Let us help you protect your license to practice from the effects of a DUI or other criminal charge. Contact a Texas professional license defense attorney at Leichter Law today by calling 512-495-9995. Our team is standing by to discuss your situation during a free, no-obligation consultation.