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Nurses facing DUI charges: Avoid a conviction at all costs

You worked hard to obtain your nursing license. Along with plenty of nights cramming for tests and clinicals, you have a significant student loan debt load to pay off as a result.

So, it only makes sense that you want to protect your nursing license. After all, you won't be able to care for your patients without it. One threat to your being able to work as a nurse here in Illinois is to be convicted of driving under the influence (DUI).

What happens when a nurse gets a DUI?

In addition to the criminal penalties and possible civil litigation that could arise if there was an accident with injuries, nurses will face censure from the Illinois Board of Nursing (BON). It is likely that you could be terminated from your job and even lose your nursing license.

Even if that is not the case, you will probably be forced to enter a substance abuse treatment program and attend AA meetings in order to continue working as a nurse.

The consequences of a conviction can be life-altering

The goal of these regulatory agencies is to ensure that the public is not endangered by a nurse who may be working while impaired by alcohol (or drugs, like the title character in the TV drama Nurse Jackie).

In these circumstances, nurses, doctors and other health care professionals have a great deal more to lose than those working as construction workers or retail clerks.

Other factors to consider are potentially losing your driver's license. If you are working as a home health nurse, how will you be able to get to your patients if you cannot drive?

Do I have to report if I get a DUI to the BON?

We live and work in a digital age, where information is available online and at the click of a mouse. Thinking you can hide a DUI arrest and/or conviction from the regulatory agencies is naive at best. Most likely, that would be perceived as duplicitous and could result in even harsher penalties being levied against you.

If you are a nurse who gets arrested for DUI, your best course of action is to learn about all your legal options. A Joliet criminal defense attorney with a practice focused on DUI charges is a good place to start building the stalwart defense that can lead to an acquittal.

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