New Jersey requires anyone who is seeking to become a nurse to report a DWI or DUI arrest and/or conviction on his or her nursing license application. Nurses who are already licensed must report a DWI or DUI arrest and/or conviction on any license renewal form.
WHY IS REPORTING A DWI OR DUI ARREST SO IMPORTANT?
The failure to disclose a DWI or DUI arrest or conviction on a nursing license application or renewal is considered misconduct under New Jersey law and may be penalized with a nursing license suspension, revocation, or a period of probation.
Most of the sanctions imposed against New Jersey nurses in these cases are for the failure to report rather than for the DWI or DUI arrest or conviction itself. Typically, the BON will want to see the police reports, any chemical test results, and the final disposition of the case.
WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES LEAD TO DISCIPLINARY ACTION AGAINST NURSES?
When aggravating circumstances are linked to a nurse’s DWI or DUI case, it’s more likely that the BON will take disciplinary action. Aggravating circumstances may include:
- An excessively high BAC (blood alcohol content) level at the time of the arrest
- The use of drugs – prescribed or not – that impair mental or physical abilities
- Prior DWI or DUI convictions
- A DWI arrest immediately before or after a work shift
- Any criminal charge filed along with a DWI or DUI charge
WHAT DISCIPLINARY STEPS CAN THE BOARD OF NURSING TAKE?
Often, the first disciplinary step that the Board of Nursing takes is requiring the nurse to enroll in the Recovery and Monitoring Program (RAMP), which supervises New Jersey nurses as they seek treatment and counseling. Other measures may include:
- Probation: The BON may allow a nurse to work during a probationary period, but during this time the nurse must refrain from alcohol use or illegal drug use; attend alcohol and/or drug treatment and counseling; and consent to random drug and alcohol screening.
- License suspension: A failure to report triggers most nursing license suspensions, but a suspension may also be a response to aggravating circumstances in a DWI or DUI case. If the evidence shows that a nurse was impaired while working, a suspension is probable.
- License revocation: In extreme cases, the BON will revoke a nursing license. Repeat convictions or continuing and ongoing drug and/or alcohol abuse will almost certainly lead over time to a license revocation.
WHY GOOD LEGAL HELP IS IMPORTANT
However, if you are found not guilty of DWI or DUI, or if your case is dismissed, the Board of Nursing will probably not take disciplinary action against you. That’s why good legal help is so important in these cases.
New Jersey DWI defense lawyer Steven W. Hernandez is the author of “New Jersey DWI Defense, the Law & Practice,” the book used by DWI lawyers throughout the State of New Jersey.
For over fifteen years, Steven W. Hernandez has effectively represented nurses in DWI and DUI cases. His consistent record of success on behalf of his clients speaks for itself.
You should not have to lose your nursing license because of one instance of poor judgment. If you’re a nurse in New Jersey and you are arrested for DWI or DUI, contact the Hernandez Law Firm at 732-286-2700, or reach us by completing the contact form here on our website.