DUI and Medical Board License
If you are, or a loved one you know is, a doctor holding a CA medical board license, then special care needs to be taken with any DUI and Medical Board License case. As you know, the Medical Board, as a division of the California State Consumer Department of Consumer Affairs, has jurisdiction over your license and controls the terms of your license.
The Board warns that any conviction that is “related to the practice of medicine” can result in discipline for the criminal conviction(s). That can take the form of warnings, probation, license suspension or even license revocation.
California’s Medical Board’s Disciplinary Guidelines indicates that if probation is necessary, conditions are imposed. Probation conditions include biological fluid testing, community service, psychiatric evaluation and Drug Enforcement Agency permit surrender, or anything else deemed appropriate.
Reputation is usually the biggest blow. Discipline-related documents are readily available on the Board’s website. Discipline summaries appear in every medical board newsletter.
How can a DUI affect a Medical Board License?
One of the problems in analyzing how a particular case would be handled is the vague nature of the proceedings. The medical board doesn’t offer any black and white, clear guidelines, only that they will take action for any conviction that is “related to the practice of medicine”, and take “appropriate action”, from the choices available to the board.
That is, and should be, different for every case, and highly dependent upon the particular facts of the case. However, the medical board is particularly interested patient safety, so patient rape, molestation, or injury, are emphasized. In addition, any addiction issues, because they are high in the profession, and because doctors often have access to narcotics, are given special scrutiny. Perjury, fraud, or theft crimes, being crimes of moral turpitude, are also often acted upon.
A DUI that involves alcohol, or drugs, or both, with or without an accident, can be something that the board may become involved with. The board wants to see police reports, and if it is shown that particularly reckless behavior, like a very high alcohol level, or a severe accident, is involved, that may spur action.
Most common is action involving a second DUI, or a third DUI. At that point, the board can “connect the dots” and declare an addiction issue, that may require special handling, rehab or other treatment, or probation.
“The Board frequently receives questions about how a criminal conviction might affect a physician’s license to practice medicine. The question is not as straightforward as it would appear because every situation is different and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis. … Business and Professions Code Section 2236 states that the conviction of any offense substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician constitutes unprofessional conduct which can be cause for disciplinary action. The Board reviews the records related to every conviction considering not only the record of the conviction itself, but also the underlying issues which led to the arrest and conviction. Section 2236 does not differentiate between a felony and a misdemeanor conviction and consideration about whether disciplinary action is supportable is not based on this distinction either.
A conviction that does not, at first glance, appear to be substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a physician, may, under closer scrutiny, be revealed to be otherwise (e.g; reckless driving, DUIs, and sex crimes). All information related to the criminal case is considered, such as when the arrest occurred; the circumstances surrounding the arrest; any previous history of arrests or convictions; and the physician’s compliance with the court’s terms and conditions.
- The bringing of an indictment or information charging a felony against the licensee;
- The conviction of the licensee, including any verdict of guilty or plea of no contest of any felony or misdemeanor.”
DUI and Medical Board License Obligations
As a doctor or the holder of a Medical Board License, you have an affirmative obligation to report any and all convictions. Failure to make a report shall be a public offense punishable by a fine not to exceed $5,000. Here is the form to report the criminal actions:
DUI and Medical Board License Defenses and Strategies
The best strategy we have found when a medical license is involved is to scrutinize the case to make sure that any findings that may cause a problem by being “related to the practice of medicine” are dismissed, or reduced, wherever possible. That usually means that DUI and Medical Board License Defenses based upon the facts of the case, or based upon legal defenses, like an illegal search, an illegal seizure, or a failure to prove the elements of the crime, might be appropriate.
If you have a medical board license and are facing a DUI charge, contact us. We can help you and have experience representing doctors in DUI cases.