3 DUIs What are my Chances of Being an RN?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I want to become an RN. I have an associates of applied science for MLT and a Phlebotomy certification through ASCP. I have never been employed as an MLT, I couldn't get a job.

    I have 3 DUI's on my record. 1) age 16, 2) age 23 and I am now 38 and have yet to go to court. The paperwork for the RN program says you must have a "negative background or acceptable". I am afraid the clinical site will not let me in and it is possible. Even if they do I still have to go through the BON.

    I would be an excellent nurse, I was a CNA for ten years and an excellent phlebotomist the fear of all the work and money to not get to become a nurse is rational but If there is a chance I want to try. Is it possible for me to make it? What do you think? (My partner of now 14yrs. had a massive stroke Oct 18th 2009, I graduated July 2010 for MLT this is 2017. I have been working as a server for the last three years.



    Dear Afraid,

    You are right to have concerns. Your challenges are:



    • Getting accepted to an RN program
    • Getting cleared by the BON for your license after you graduate the RN program.



    If you had a recent DUI for a total of 3 DUIs, you may not be accepted to an RN program.
    Next step is the BON- they are far more rigorous than RN programs and look for insight, remorse and rehabilitation- which will be a challenge with your record. Read Writing a Letter of Explanation to the BON.

    I am so sorry. I would be the last to say you could not succeed, and the first to agree that, yes, you could have the makings of an excellent nurse.

    I'm just telling you what I know- that even if you are accepted to an RN program, you will still have to
    convince your state BON that you are rehabilitated. You could invest a great deal of time and resources in school for naught.

    More important is your pattern of drinking and risky choices.
    The first step on your agenda needs to be your health and addressing your alcohol use.


    Best wishes to you and your partner,


    Nurse Beth



    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
    Last edit by tnbutterfly on Nov 8
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  2. 12 Comments

  3. by   meanmaryjean
    As someone who makes admission decisions- I would pass based on the most recent DUI. I have ONE clinical site that would accept someone with 2 remote DUIs - and if there were just the two in the distant past, it would be difficult at best. But the current one negates all of that. My advice would be for you to take whatever steps needed to use the lab degree you already possess. Best wishes.
  4. by   Dafabb
    I will agree by your numbers that you have a problem. You were free for 15 yrs and again it happened. I would suggest you work on that situation first. Your health is more important. You have your Lab degree it would probably be more prudent to go in that direction. I wish you well.....
  5. by   llg
    As someone who helps make decisions for a hospital as to whether or not students can come for clinicals ... I agree with meanmaryjean. A youthful DUI from a long time ago is easily forgiven. The 2nd gives us reason to pause, but might be allowed if it were 15 years ago. But the current one announces that you still have a significant problem with alcohol -- and that would probably cause us to prevent you from coming to our facility for clinical.

    I hope you can resolve your problems soon and move on with your life.
    Last edit by llg on Oct 27
  6. by   Pixie.RN
    I think that unfortunately, those who make the decisions at schools, clinical sites, and the board of nursing are going to look at your history of DUIs and see a pattern of less than responsible behavior, regardless of extenuating circumstances or what a good person you are for desiring to help others. If you are determined to do this, you would probably have to have some solid indicators of improvement, like going to some kind of outpatient program to examine why you have done this three times. You may or may not have a problem with alcohol, but from outward appearances, it will be assumed. If you can demonstrate getting everything under control, you could have a shot. But it would be a very long shot! Best of luck to you.
  7. by   Mavrick
    Your chances of getting in/through nursing school = slim. Getting your record past the BON = none.

    You have not been able to learn from (and stop repeating) your mistakes.

    This is a serious wake up call that you need to stop drinking and driving. The BON has the responsibility to keep the public safe, not giving you a license to endanger that public.

    Look for work elsewhere.
  8. by   EmergencyNurse2012
    I must agree with other posts stating that having a DUI when young is different than having your third as a 38 year old. It shows a pattern of worrisome behavior. It is highly unlikely that a reputable nursing school would grant acceptance into their program and even more unlikely for a Board of Nursing to overlook the most recent DUI.
  9. by   Salsacat
    The most important issue here is NOT your potential nursing license - it is WHO YOU WILL EVENTUALLY KILL by driving drunk. If you kill yourself, that is your own choice - sad - but your choice. If and WHEN you cause an accident and kill or maim innocent people through your choices - THAT is the worst thing about this - not your nursing license. PLEASE take a minute to listen to families and victims of drunk and "buzzed" drivers before you ever get behind the wheel of a car again. Making a choice to put others at risk of death - you don't deserve a nursing license, let alone a driver's license.

    HERE'S A STORY OF A YOUNG GIRL BURNED BEYOND RECOGNITION AND WHOSE FRIENDS WERE KILLED - BY A DRUNK DRIVER: Jacqui's Story - YouTube
    Last edit by Salsacat on Oct 31
  10. by   Squad51KMG365
    Quote from Salsacat
    The most important issue here is NOT your potential nursing license - it is WHO YOU WILL EVENTUALLY KILL by driving drunk. If you kill yourself, that is your own choice - sad - but your choice. If and WHEN you cause an accident and kill or maim innocent people through your choices - THAT is the worst thing about this - not your nursing license. PLEASE take a minute to listen to families and victims of drunk and "buzzed" drivers before you ever get behind the wheel of a car again. Making a choice to put others at risk of death - you don't deserve a nursing license, let alone a driver's license.

    HERE'S A STORY OF A YOUNG GIRL BURNED BEYOND RECOGNITION AND WHOSE FRIENDS WERE KILLED - BY A DRUNK DRIVER: Jacqui's Story - YouTube
    Thank you, Salsacat, for posting Jacqui's story. I lived in Austin at the time and remember when it happened--the particular stretch of road is challenging enough in daylight and sober, let alone at night and drunk. I used to see Jacqui years later in ice cream parlors with friends.

    The original poster needs to think long and hard about what he/she wants to do with the rest of their life. I know it's not easy, I'm 60 with a disabled spouse and still unsure about career decisions, but I'm thankful I'm in a large city with many choices. Good luck to you.
  11. by   Lav9059
    I'm a bit confused. Did you have a DUI at 16 then two at 23 or at ages 16,23 and 38. If the latter then I agree that you should work on getting better and addressing the issues that trigger your drinking. But if you had two DUI at 23 then maybe you can try to move forward in your career. Its almost 15 years ago. If you haven't had any arrest and obtained treatment then I don't understand why you wouldn't be give a second chance. But you should know nursing is very stressful. You can't do it just for the money or else you will be miserable. It has its rewards (emotional) but the daily anxiety, pressures and rigid time constraints can be overwhelming. If you don't have strong coping abilities I'm afraid this can become a trigger for you. Best wishes.
  12. by   Lvn1973
    I can tell you from the california board's perspective. You absolutely CAN become an RN but with 3 dui's you will be considered a substance abuser. What they will want to see is that you are sober, have gone through some sort of recovery program such as day treatment, residential, or intensive outpatient program, are attending 12 step meetings (get card and have signed each meeting for proof), have a sponsor, possibly doing volunteer work, letters of recommendation, and if possible have documented sobriety (there are different ways to do this such as signing yourself up for testing, a program called sober link, or through you medical insurance chemical dependency program). I have 2 dui's and a misdemeanor reckless driving with injury. I got my lvn license from a private vocational school and my rn license from a public community college. At no time was my background an issue with either school just the nursing board. When you are issued an RN license from the board it will almost certainly be a probationary license. This will include nurse support meetings, 12 step meetings, and biological fluid testing ranging from 3-5 years. All of this was worth it to me because sobriety has changed my life and being a nurse is my calling and I would do anything and jump through any hoops to be a nurse. All these steps feel minor compared to how complicated my life was when I was using. If you don't become sober and make excuses for why the dui's happened I can tell you all bets are off with the board and your chances to get your license will be zero.
  13. by   dlp0223
    I agree with all the statements and I hope no program or BON would even consider you as a candidate for being a nurse. Three times at driving drunk tells me that you are someone who feels rules don't apply to you and worse yet, your carelessness and irresponsible behavior shows you have absolutely no regard for human life and have no business working in a profession where you make decisions that could kill someone. How long will it be before you show up to work drunk? I would not want to work with you and I would not want you caring for myself or any family members. Do the nursing profession a favor and find another career. Bartending sounds like the perfect career choice for you.
    Last edit by dlp0223 on Nov 6 : Reason: Left word out
  14. by   dlp0223
    I agree.

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