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How will a DUI impact a Nursing License?

Written by Matthew J. Ruff
Originally Published by LexisNexis, Lawyers.com, July 3, 2009

A DUI or driving under the influence conviction can create significant problems for people in today's society. However, nowhere does a DUI cause more trouble than for those in California with a medical or nursing license. The California Board of Registered Nursing is particularly strict on those under its licensure who have been accused of a DUI. As a California DUI Attorney I am often asked what the specific consequences are for Nurses and those wishing to become a Nurse. Initially, it must be stated that when we say "DUI", California regards that as driving under the influence of either drugs or alcohol if the substance actually impairs someones ability to drive. When the individual is someone working within the healthcare field, it is important that any offense be deemed to involve alcohol only and not drugs. Most Nursing Boards are particularly tough on any type of drug offense due to the nature of the job requirements, that is working around drugs and controlled substances on a daily basis.

What will happen with my nursing license if I am arrested or ultimately convicted of a DUI? This question is typical of those following an arrest for driving under the influence. First, it is important to understand that an arrest is not a conviction of a crime, an arrest is merely an accusation supported by probable cause. A conviction for any crime can only be handed down by a Court after a trial or plea of guilty. In the state of California, a criminal conviction is not grounds for discipline or loss of license unless it is "substantially related" to the qualifications, functions and duties of the profession. The appicable law and statutory inerpretations can be found in Business and Professions Code section 490 (b).

With that in mind, when a DUI arrest occurs the individual is booked and fingerprinted and therefore the arrest will usually be reported even though the person has not been to Court. A DUI Lawyer can go to Court and try to avoid a conviction on the driving under the influence or excessive blood alcohol charges. If you are already a nurse, a DUI will usually not result in a termination, however it will cause problems. If you want to become a nurse then a DUI will cause more problems, in either event having a DUI attorney representing you is the safest bet. There are strategies than can be employed to mitigate the effects of a DUI arrest and how it will impact a nursing carreer. So if you are a nurse, especially a registered nurse or RN in California, and get arrested for a DUI call a lawyer that is local to the area where your arrest took place. A DUI Lawyer can help with a plan to mitigate the damage of a DUI arrest. For a nurse, this means dealing with not only the criminal court proceedings, but also the fallout the drunk driving arrest will have on the individual's job as a nurse.

Matthew J. Ruff is a DUI Lawyer with offices in both Los Angeles and Kern County. He has effectively represented Nurses in all major cities in Southern California including Los Angeles, Redondo Beach, Long Beach, Bakersfield, Hermosa Beach among many others. In one recent case he defended a traveling nurse that was pulled over in Los Angeles County with a blood alcohol level well over twice the legal limit. He went to Court for the nurse and resolved the case for a reduced charge and got the DUI charges completely dismissed, she kept her nursing license and her job.

If you or someone you know is a Nurse in California and has been arrested for a DUI, contact a DUI attorney that has successfully resolved cases involving all types of criminal allegations brought against nurses, such as drug allegations, hit and run, high blood alcohol levels on breath tests, accidents with injury, among many others.

Should I take a Polygraph Test if suspected of a crime?

Written by Matthew J. Ruff
Originally Published by LexisNexis, Lawyers.com, December 13, 2008

The question of whether one should take a polygraph or lie detector test is one asked of many people suspected by the police of committing a criminal offense. Often, a law enforcement investigator or police detective will ask a suspect to submit to a polygraph test in order to "get their side of the story". In my experience, having been a criminal defense attorney for well over a decade and having personally handled well over two thousand cases, the police usually use the request to submit to a polygraph as a ruse to simply question the individual in a controlled setting. The purpose is not to get to the "truth" or determine whether the person is lying, the office usually already knows that. Having an individual take a lie detector test allows statements to be obtained and permits the detective to lock the person in to a particular story.

Most experienced criminal defense lawyers and other professionals, including judges, will advise a client to not take a polygraph at the request of police. Instead, the detective should be asked to allow the suspect, through his or her attorney, to choose an independent polygrapher and conduct their own test and submit the results to the police. This is preferred because it gives the attorney control over the manner of the testing and ultimate reliability.

Another option is to request that the results be admissible in Court through a stipulation of the criminal defense Lawyer and the local District Attorney. The bottom line is they will usually not agree to these terms but it gives the criminal suspect a polite "out" to refuse to submission of the polygraph.

The machines themselves are not known to be reliable and therefore are not otherwise admissible in a criminal case. The devices are subject to manipulation by the examiner and are very subjective in terms of the results. A polygraph machine can be manipulated by artful questioning and careful preparation of the subject. An experienced criminal defense lawyer familiar with all the issues should be retained immediately if a person has been alleged to have committed a criminal offense. The pros and cons of submitting to a polygraph should be discussed with the individual's criminal defense attorney.


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