Do I Have to Report a DUI to the Board of Nursing in California?

do i have to report dui to board of nursing

As dedicated professionals, nurses play an important role in safeguarding the health and well-being of our communities. However, even the most dedicated and responsible nurses can unexpectedly find themselves facing situations that jeopardize their hard-earned careers. One such situation is a driving under the influence (DUI) conviction, which can have severe consequences for a nurse’s professional license in California.

Still, registered nurses are required by law to report any DUI conviction, including guilty pleas and no-contest pleas, to the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN) within 30 days. Failing to understand and properly report a DUI can put your nursing license at risk, making it crucial to be informed.

What is the California Board of Registered Nursing (BRN)?

The BRN is a state agency responsible for regulating and licensing nurses. Its primary mandate is to protect public safety by ensuring that nursing professionals adhere to the highest standards of practice. To fulfill this duty, the BRN has the authority to investigate and discipline nurses who engage in unprofessional conduct, including those convicted of certain criminal offenses.

The BRN is a nine-member board appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the California State Senate. Its primary responsibilities include:

  • Regulating the practice of nursing within the state
  • Granting licenses to qualified registered nurses (RNs)
  • Investigating complaints against nurses and taking disciplinary action when necessary

The Board operates under the Nursing Practice Act, which outlines the rules and regulations governing the nursing profession in California.

Do Nurses Have to Report a DUI to the BRN?

The short answer is yes. Registered nurses in California must report any DUI conviction, including guilty pleas and no-contest pleas, to the BRN within 30 days of the conviction. Failure to do so can result in additional disciplinary action from the Board.

It’s important to note that while you are not required to report a misdemeanor DUI arrest, the California Department of Justice typically notifies the BRN of any arrests or convictions involving nurses through fingerprint records. This means that even if you don’t report the incident, the BRN may still become aware of it and initiate an investigation.

Potential Disciplinary Actions for DUI Convictions

The BRN takes DUI convictions very seriously, as they can be seen as a threat to public safety and a violation of the professional standards expected of nurses. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the Board may impose various disciplinary actions, including:

Public Reprimand

A formal warning is issued by the BRN that remains on the nurse’s record for three years. While it does not restrict the nurse’s ability to practice, it serves as a public acknowledgment of the violation and a caution against future misconduct.


The BRN may place a nurse on probation for a period of two to five years. During this time, the nurse may be subject to various conditions, such as:

  • Random drug and alcohol testing
  • Enrollment in a rehabilitation or diversion program
  • Completion of continuing education courses
  • Practice restrictions or limitations

Failure to comply with the terms of probation can result in further disciplinary action, including license suspension or revocation.

License Suspension or Revocation

In cases where the DUI conviction is particularly egregious, or the nurse has a history of repeated offenses, the BRN may choose to suspend or revoke the nurse’s license altogether. This effectively prevents the individual from practicing as a registered nurse in California until the suspension is lifted or a new license is obtained, which can be a lengthy and challenging process.

It’s important to note that the severity of the disciplinary action taken by the BRN depends on various factors, including the specifics of the DUI offense, the nurse’s prior record, and the potential for rehabilitation. Repeated DUI offenses or failing to report a conviction can lead to harsher penalties, including license revocation.

Defending Against DUI Charges to Protect Your Nursing License

Given the severe consequences a DUI conviction can have on a nursing career, it is crucial to mount a vigorous defense against any DUI charges.

Here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  1. Exercise your right to remain silent: If you are stopped by law enforcement and suspected of driving under the influence, politely decline to answer any questions without the presence of an attorney. While you should comply with lawful orders, you are not obligated to provide any self-incriminating statements.
  2. Consult a professional license defense attorney: A DUI charge that threatens your nursing license requires strategic legal guidance. Our team can help you understand your rights, explore all available options, and develop a defense strategy to minimize the potential impact on your license.
  3. Gather and preserve evidence: Our professional license defense team will collect and preserve all relevant evidence on your behalf, including police reports, breathalyzer test results, and witness statements, to challenge the DUI charges you face.

By taking these proactive steps, you increase your chances of avoiding a DUI conviction and the potential disciplinary action that could follow from the BRN.

Seeking Representation After an Arrest

If you are a nurse who has been arrested for a DUI or other criminal offense, it is critical to retain a professional license defense attorney right away. Your nursing license and career could be in jeopardy, depending on the circumstances and outcome of the case. Our attorneys represent nurses and other licensed professionals facing disciplinary action or criminal charges that threaten their professional licenses. We understand what’s at stake, and our sole focus is protecting your license and livelihood.

By securing our representation promptly after an arrest, we can take immediate steps to safeguard your rights and interests. This includes advising you on interactions with licensing boards to avoid missteps that could compromise your professional license. Our lawyers will evaluate your situation and develop a customized strategy aimed at achieving the best possible outcome. Depending on the details of your case, we will pursue alternatives that allow you to continue practicing. Our goal is to resolve the matter as quickly as possible while preserving your hard-earned nursing career.

Seeking Reinstatement After a DUI Conviction

If you have already been convicted of a DUI and have had your nursing license suspended or revoked by the BRN, there is still hope for reinstatement.

However, the process can be complex and may involve meeting specific requirements, such as:

  • Completing a rehabilitation or diversion program
  • Submitting to psychological or substance abuse evaluations
  • Demonstrating fitness to practice nursing through ongoing monitoring or supervision
  • Paying applicable fees and penalties

It is highly recommended that you seek the guidance of an experienced professional license defense attorney who can help you navigate the reinstatement process and ensure that you meet all the necessary requirements set forth by the BRN.

At TONG LAW, our team of attorneys understands the complexities and nuances of California’s nursing regulations. We have extensive experience representing nurses facing disciplinary action from the BRN, including those involving DUI convictions.

Our attorneys will protect your rights and advocate for your best interests throughout the legal process. From building a strong defense against DUI charges to guiding you through the reinstatement process, we are committed to safeguarding your nursing career and professional reputation.

If you are a registered nurse in California facing DUI charges or disciplinary action from the BRN, do not hesitate to contact TONG LAW for a confidential consultation. Our knowledgeable and compassionate legal team is here to provide the support and representation you need during this challenging time.

Author Bio

Vincent Tong

Vincent Tong is the CEO and Managing Partner of TONG LAW, a business and employment law firm located in Oakland, CA. Vincent is a fierce advocate for employees facing discrimination and wrongful termination. With several successful jury trial victories and favorable settlements, he has earned a strong reputation for delivering exceptional results for his clients.

In addition, Vincent provides invaluable counsel to businesses, guiding them on critical matters such as formation and governance, regulatory compliance, and protection of intellectual property assets. His depth of experience allows him to anticipate risks, devise strategies to avoid legal pitfalls, and empower clients to pursue their goals confidently.

Vincent currently serves as the 2021 President of the Board of Directors for the Alameda County Bar Association and sits on the Executive Board for the California Employment Lawyers Association. Recognized for outstanding skills and client dedication, he has consecutively earned the Super Lawyers’ Rising Star honor since 2015, reserved for the top 2.5% of attorneys. He also received the Distinguished Service Award for New Attorney from the Alameda County Bar Association in 2016. He is licensed to practice before all California state courts and the United States District Court for the Northern and Central Districts of California.

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