Nurses who contact our office frequently ask our attorney’s if state law allows a nursing professional with a DUI legal charge or conviction to get a license with the Arizona State Board of Nursing? The short answer is yes. An Arizona Nurse DUI will not necessarily prevent a nurse 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 nursing professionals with a case that resulted in a felony DUI criminal conviction can get a license.
Health Care Criminal Consequences
This specific policy does not apply to criminal conduct involving misdemeanor DUI charges or convictions. Once a nursing professional applies for a license to practice to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, they need to disclose any felony DUI criminal court convictions (from previous years) on their application. A nurse 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 a nurse can perform safe patient care and can have safe direct contact with patients or other providers.
CLICK HERE FOR ARIZONA BOARD OF NURSING ATTORNEY REPRESENTATION
Disclosing a DUI on an Application for Nurses
If a nursing license applicant (like an RN) 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 nursing professional and initiate an investigation in their practice utilizing the law of the Arizona Nurse Practice Act (current as of October 2020). This license investigation determines whether the nurse is a danger to the public, has any medical or mental health problems and whether the nurse 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 nursing care with a past criminal case involving alcohol or substance abuse.
The attorney’s at Chelle Law assist nurses with interpreting Board policy (which is generally on the Board website). Our attorney’s help the healthcare workers and nurses with their application to show the Board the nursing professional isn’t a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public and is able to provide safe patient care.
Reporting a DUI Charge to the Arizona Board of Nursing
When a police officer issues a citation or arrest (which usually includes official charges) to a person, Arizona law requires that the nursing professional report any criminal misdemeanor charge that may affect patient safety to the Arizona State Board within ten business days. Nurses must report any and all felony charges. Of note, some jurisdictions will only charge an individual if a complaint is filed with the court. The AZ Board has a page on their health care website which lists what misdemeanor charges must be reported.
The board then reviews the investigators report to determine if any healthcare disciplinary action is necessary. This applies to both licensees and applicants for licensure. It is considered unprofessional conduct if a nursing professional receives a charge by a police department or court and fails to self report it within ten working days. The person can end up with disciplinary action and/or a fine. Failure to self report can result in additional disciplinary actions.
Health Care Nurse Felony Bar
If a nurse discloses a felony criminal conviction on their health care application, Board policy and state law (for healthcare professionals) holds the nursing professional is not eligible to apply for a license or certificate with the Arizona State Board of Nursing until three years after the absolute discharge of the court sentence. An absolute discharge from the sentence is the completion of any sentence, including imprisonment, probation, parole, community supervision or any form of court supervision.
Of note, if enough time has passed since the conviction, state law may allow a nursing professional have the conviction reduced to a misdemeanor (due to an undesignated designation), dismissed, expunged, set aside or something similar. The bar of three years may not apply. In this instance, a nurse can ask an attorney to assist the applicant in obtaining these felony reductions if they haven’t already pursued these options in the state where their case occurred.
Health Care Workers Consequences
The attorney’s at Chelle Law assist nurses in interpreting Board license policy (which is generally contained on the Board website). Our attorney’s help nurses with their application to show the Board the nurse isn’t a danger to the health, safety and welfare of the public and is able to give safe care. If you’re looking into a nursing career in Arizona, but have concerns about your criminal record you don’t have to worry. Though you may have a criminal record, you may still be eligible to be a health care nursing professional without collateral consequences. If you’re currently a nurse with a felony conviction it’s important to educate yourself on what you must do to protect your license and avoid discipline. Chelle Law helps our nurse client with self-reporting a misdemeanor DUI and other related misdemeanor charges.
Concealing Criminal Charges by Healthcare Professionals
If a nursing professional conceals a charge rather than self-report, the consequences can be dire. In most cases, the Board of Nursing will find out anyway. Thus, if they find out about an unreported criminal charge the discipline will not only be for the criminal charge, but for concealing it as well. It can even lead to an Arizona nursing license suspension.
Arizona Nurse Lawyer
The attorney’s at Chelle Law can help with an Arizona Nurse DUI. Contact us today to learn more about the services we offer for nurses or to schedule a consultation.