DUI in California

  1. I don't even know where to begin I am very stressed out over this. So it is February 2017, I graduate from the RN program in a few months. In 2014, I was arrested for DUI with a high BAC. Not only that, but I crashed my car. Luckily, no one else was involved and I walked away with just bruises and a sore neck.

    I am now trying to get all of my NCLEX application documents together to submit to the BRN when graduation comes. Today I received my arrest report, and needless to say I am deeply embarrassed about what the cops had to say about my behavior, and the excruciating details of the accident. Before the field sobriety test, the cops had asked me if I had taken any medications or drugs, and I said yes, that I had taken Zoloft. (It was a new med to me at the time). Because of this, the officer suggested that I be charged with DUI of both drugs and alcohol. The drug charge was dropped and I was charged with misdemeanor DUI of alcohol.

    Recently, I applied to have my charge dismissed (expunged) and be released early from probation. To my surprise, those motions were granted. I have found a section in the 2017 California Nurse Practice Act that the BRN cannot deny licensure to someone who has had their charge dismissed pursuant to Penal Code 1203.4, which I have, unless that charge is substantially related to the profession of nursing. Considering that I have put the entire community at risk by choosing to drink, drive, AND crash my car, I feel that the BRN might say that my DUI is substantially related.

    I'd like to add a little back story as well. As much as I don't want to divulge this information, I think it is necessary that I be as open and honest as possible, especially since Zoloft is mentioned in the arrest report. Less than a year before the accident, I was placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold for 3 days for evaluation. I don't need to get into detail about it here, but I believe that my instability at the time played a huge role in my poor decision making the night of the accident (even though it was a year after the hospitalization). For about a year and a half after that hospitalization I still had severe anxiety, frequent manic episodes and poor judgment related to my diagnosis. I have been seeing a psychiatrist since I was 18 years old (25 now) and was misdiagnosed up until the hospitalization. I now take medication every day and have been stable for the last two years.

    I have spoken to a couple of lawyers about this. One told me that getting an expungement won't make a difference. Another told me to go to AA meetings but I won't need a sponsor. Here is where I am struggling to provide evidence of rehabilitation. I only went to a handful of meetings. I didn't feel like I needed help to quit drinking, because I am not a habitual drinker. I can go weeks without a drop of alcohol and not bat an eye. I chose to go to AA to hear other people's stories of alcoholism and how it has affected their lives. It was an eye opener to see how much alcoholism destroys families, jobs, relationships, dreams, goals, etc. Listening to others' stories, I still didn't see myself as an alcoholic.

    Rather than an issue of alcoholism, I felt I had an issue with poor judgment related to psychiatric issues and possibly a medication reaction. My psychiatric issues are now under control. After reading my arrest report, the question of whether I am chemical or alcohol dependent is going to be huge. I am very concerned. Not only will they see that I made a horrible choice involving alcohol, but I also have psychiatric issues. Double whammy.

    Should I just go ahead and admit to the board that I have an alcohol problem? (even though I don't believe it, that I think it was a lapse in judgment that will not happen again). Should I go ahead and find myself a sponsor from AA, even though well over two years has passed since the arrest?

    I wonder if anyone out there in California has had a DUI as severe as mine, applied for licensure and what their experience entailed?

    I would appreciate any useful information.
    Thank you.
    Last edit by kittenmittens on Feb 10
  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   Wile E Coyote
    If you consulted lawyers experienced in professional licensure issues, I would think their advice has high merit.

    I recommend you consider deleting this entire thread, or at least heavily edit it.
    I'm also compelled to recommend getting a professional, objective opinion on your mental health both past and present.
    Last edit by Wile E Coyote on Feb 10
  4. by   Sour Lemon
    If you want to hear other stories, you may find this section of the site interesting:

    I believe the BON will ask directly about psychiatric history along with criminal history, so you've got two potential serious issues to overcome. An experienced (with BON issues) lawyer would probably be a very good investment. I wish you well!
  5. by   traumaRUs
    Moved to more appropriate forum
  6. by   Esme12
    HI! Welcome to AN! The largest online nursing community!

    I move your thread for best response. This is a moderated forum and you may see a slight delay in responses. Duplicate threads merged
  7. by   RNhopeful13
    Definitely get a lawyer with BON experience on board. Like you said, with the arrest + psych history, it may turn into a doozy trying to get approved. As far as saying you're an alcoholic or not, I don't feel that's what the board is looking for. They are looking for you to explain and take full ownership of what happened, and what you've done to change & make sure mistakes like that never happen again. I would think involvement in AA would be good because even if you aren't an alcoholic, you made a dangerous decision related to alcohol. With your psych history, get documentation from doctors/therapists on your progress detailing your journey to stability. Think of it this way: you need to pull out all the stops and present all the information you can to show the board that you are able to be a safe and competent nurse. I'd really recommend a BON familiar attorney to help guide you. Wishing you the best of luck.