Regret my Underage DUIs- Can I Take the NCLEX?

  1. Dear Nurse Beth,

    I applied for my LPN License to sit for the NCLEX test. I received a notice from the Ohio board requesting and order to take mental health examination in regards to substance use disorder. My record has several underage drinking and dui from over decades old. They state they want to see if I am safe for patients. What happens after I take the mental examination?

    Dear Underage DUI,

    I'm sorry you're going through this delay in getting your NCLEX approval.

    Every case is different, and the BON evaluates each one individually. Hopefully all they want is the evaluation, and that will clear the way.
    The BON does take into consideration mistakes made in youth, especially when they believe you have changed.

    However, they do have all the power, and a lot is at stake.

    The BON is there to protect the public, and does not act in your defense. It's very important to follow all of their instructions to the letter. Immediately respond to any correspondence they send.
    Consider consulting with an attorney knowledgeable in matters of the BON.
    If you are asked to provide a letter of explanation, be sure and read this helpful article.

    A sincere wish for a speedy and good outcome, my friend. Best wishes, and here's my responses to some commonly asked FAQs.

    What do I have to report on my application?

    When a nursing student has a prior DUI, it must be reported to the Board of Nursing (BON). Nursing students applying to take the NCLEX must report all misdemeanor and felony convictions, including DUIs. For example, in California, the only reporting exceptions are minor traffic violations, fines, or infractions under $1,000.00.
    Indicating "yes" to any questions about convictions, past actions, or possible impairment does not mean your application will be denied. It means more information must be gathered and considered before a decision can be made, which delays the usual application and testing process.
    But what if my DUI conviction was expunged?

    Convictions must be reported even if they have been:

    • Expunged under Penal Code Section 1203.4.
    • Dismissed
    • Adjudicated

    The BON will discover all records, even if they have been sealed or dismissed. Failure to report can result in denial of licensure.
    I completed a court ordered diversion program and my charges were dismissed..?

    The charges must still be reported even if a court ordered diversion program has been completed and all charges have been dismissed. Failure to report can result in denial of licensure.
    Can I obtain a license as a nurse if I have a misdemeanor, felony, or DUI conviction on my record?

    Yes, each case is reviewed on a case by case basis related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a registered nurse.
    The BON considers the nature, severity, and recency of the offense, as well as rehabilitation and other factors. How old were you when you committed the offense or had the DUI? How much time has elapsed since then?
    Is there any specific conviction that will automatically disqualify me from receiving my license?

    Each state varies, and some do stipulate certain offenses as automatic disqualification for licensure.
    For example, according to the CA BRN, there is not any one specific type of conviction in and of itself that will disqualify an applicant. Each applicant is considered on an individual basis.

    What type of documentation do I need to submit in support of my application if I have a prior conviction or DUI?
    In addition to the documents required for licensure, the BON will require:

    • Certified court documents
    • Arrest report from arresting agency, to include the Blood/Breath Alcohol Content (BAC)
    • A letter of explanation from you- this letter is extremely important. Once it's submitted, you cannot change it or retract it. Take care in composing it.
    • Evidence of rehabilitation
    • Evidence of professional treatment and counseling you may have completed, with discharge summary
    • Letters of reference from others
    • Proof of community work, schooling, and/or self-improvement efforts
    • Court-issued certificate of rehabilitation, evidence of expungement, proof of compliance with criminal probation or parole, and orders of the court

    Can I receive an Interim Permit if my application is under review because of convictions?

    No, you are not eligible for an IP until the review has been completed, and a final decision has been made regarding your application.
    How long will this take?

    It can take several weeks, and in some cases, even much longer.
    When you apply, be fully prepared with information regarding your background prior to making application to the BON. Otherwise, your request for an ATT will be delayed. Enclosing all of your supporting documentation will expedite the process and the review.

    Again, be sure to send everything that is requested. If you have completed everything to the best of your ability, and taken care with your letter, then it is now out of your hands.

    Try to relax and let go.
    Best wishes,

    Nurse Beth

    Author, "Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job"...and your next!
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