Your professional career and dental license may be at risk after a DUI. A DUI charge can apply to using alcohol and/or drugs while driving. The Dental Board of California may file an accusation against a dentist for a DUI calling for revocation or suspension of the dentist’s license.
If you are a California dentist who has been arrested for DUI, it is imperative to hire an attorney with expertise in both criminal law and professional licensing law who can uniquely understand the impact of a DUI on a dentist’s license. This attorney will represent the dentist with the DUI process and the disclosure to the Dental Board of California.
Consider the following fictionalized vignette:
Daniel (a California dentist) has a chronic back injury that occasionally flares up, requiring Daniel to take a muscle relaxant prescribed by his physician. On a Saturday when Daniel is not seeing patients, Daniel moves a large piece of furniture causing a severe flare-up of his back pain. Daniel takes a double dose of the muscle relaxant so that he can still pick up his mother-in-law from the airport as planned. While driving to the airport, Daniel rear-ends a stopped car at a red light. A police officer arrives to the scene and suspects Daniel of being under the influence of drugs. The police officer arrests Daniel for DUI and calls a drug recognition expert (DRE) to evaluate Daniel at the police station. Daniel is terrified that he could lose his dental license and doesn’t know what to do next. What type of lawyer should Daniel hire? How can Daniel best protect his license?
Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID)
While driving under the influence often applies to alcohol use, both prescription medications and illegal drugs can also result in DUI charges. California Vehicle Code 23152 (e) states that “It is unlawful for a person who is under the influence of any drug to drive a vehicle.”
Will the Dental Board of California Find Out About Your DUI?
California dentists now undergo Live Scan fingerprinting at the time of licensure and license renewal. If the Department of Justice (DOJ) has a dentist’s fingerprints on file, the DOJ will automatically notify the Dental Board of California of any criminal offense including a DUI arrest.
A dentist must disclose a DUI conviction to the Dental Board of California. It is critical to have a professional licensing attorney assist in this disclosure process in an effort to minimize both disclosure mistakes and disciplinary repercussions. A professional licensing attorney can also assist a dentist in deciding when, if, and how to disclose a DUI arrest or conviction to an employer.
What Happens After Your DUI Arrest As A Dentist Becomes a DUI Conviction?
As stated by the California Business and Professions Code Section 1670.1 (a),
“Any licentiate under this chapter may have his or her license revoked or suspended or be reprimanded or be placed on probation by the board for conviction of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a dentist or dental assistant licensed under this chapter, in which case the record of conviction or a certified copy thereof, certified by the clerk of the court or by the judge in whose court the conviction is had, shall be conclusive evidence.”
In determining disciplinary action, the Dental Board of California considers each case on an individual basis and evaluates when the conviction occurred, its severity, and the details of each case.
The Dental Board of California’s Diversion Program
After a DUI conviction and disclosure to the Dental Board of California, a dentist may be contacted by the Dental Board of California’s Diversion Program. From the Dental Board of California’s website:
“Diversion is a confidential program for licensed Dentists, Registered Dental Assistants, and Registered Dental Assistants in Extended Functions in California whose ability to practice may be impaired due to alcohol and/or drug abuse. The program offers a means of recovery without the loss of a license by providing access to appropriate intervention programs and treatment services.”
It is of vital importance that a dentist convicted of a DUI speak with a professional licensing attorney before responding to a letter from the Diversion Program or enrolling in the Dental Board of California’s Diversion Program. While this program can be beneficial for some, it can have serious implications and consequences for a dentist’s license.
Questions Dentists Facing a DUI Conviction Should Ask Their Attorney:
• Do you have expertise in both criminal law and professional licensing law?
• Do you have experience representing dentists in DUI cases?
• How many DUI cases have you won?
• Have you ever had a client’s dental license revoked for a DUI?
• What are the outcomes I can expect for my case?
• Will the attorney I hire handle my case personally?
• Do you charge a flat fee or an hourly fee?
We Are Here to Help.
If you are a California dentist who has been arrested for a DUI, it is imperative to enlist the assistance of an experienced DUI and licensing attorney immediately. The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister are here to help. We have a background in criminal and professional licensing law and understand the unique legal complexities facing dentists accused of and convicted of DUIs. We have the knowledge and experience to craft a comprehensive legal strategy and are dedicated to navigating your specific case from the DUI through the disclosure and disciplinary process with the Dental Board of California to best defend your professional interests.
The Law Offices of Lucy S. McAllister have successfully represented a wide range of California licensed professionals including dentists, nurses, physicians, pharmacists, and mental health practitioners. We are experienced in handling all types of licensing issues. Let us help you protect your professional license, your reputation, and your livelihood.
For additional information or to schedule a consultation on a professional licensing issue, please contact us today at (877) 280-9944.
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