NJ nursing grad with DUI awaiting licence

  1. I made a horrific mistake and drove after drinking in 2015. I lost my driver's licence, paid a lot of fines had an interlock device installed. Then I graduated nursing school (May 2017). I disclosed everything to the board, I sat for and passed the NCLEX. Now I'm waiting for a license number. Most of my classmates received theirs in 2 days. Its been WEEKS for me. I drove to the BON (2 1/2 hours away) because I couldn't get any answers over the phone. I was told that I am on the agenda for 10/6 for review. Can they refuse me? I am a single mom of 2 who lost her job after 13 years in (started at 19), during school and now my unemployment is gone. I have a job who REALLY wants me, all lined up but is waiting for that number. If this doesn't pan out, I will lose everything. I have next months rent and little food im stretching out. Does anyone have any insight? I've read MANY threads, blogs, public NJ BON disciplinary actions...and im at a loss. Any help will be greatly appreciated.
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  2. 5 Comments

  3. by   PixieRN1
    Oooh...heads up. This is not going to be a short answer. I am gonna warn you that there is a lot of info in this response, and most is gonna be terrifying. I will preface it all by saying that I hope that I am wrong. I really do. But unfortunately I have personal experience in this particular subject, and while my information is not specific to NJ, most states operate similarly.

    First, this process likely will not move quickly. At all. On a rare occasion, it can move quickly with a more positive outcome...but that has not been my experience or the experience of many I have spoken to.

    Since your DUI is recent (2 years is recent, 15 years is not), the BON may decide to require you to “voluntarily” enroll in their impaired nurses monitoring program as a condition to receive your license at all. Refusal would mean no license regardless of the NCLEX being passed.This is a very real possibility, although I can’t say it’s always done this way. Just hella often. Again, I hope you are more fortunate than many of us were.

    I am not familiar with the typical monitoring contracts on NJ specifically (hopefully someone who is can chime in)...some states have contracts that are as short as 3 years, others as long as five years. I am in a five year program. The programs all involve frequent random drug/alcohol testing for the duration of the program and require you to secure, attend, and pay for a addiction assessment by an addictionologist of their choosing to determine if rehab/IOP, etc. will be required for you.

    There are many other hoops they make you jump thru if they require you to enter a monitoring contract. There is some individualizations of which hoops they may assign to you, for example, some nurses are placed on a temporary controlled substance restriction (even for alcohol) while some do not have that requirement at all; that means you cannot work in a nursing role where you would administer any Schedule or controlled meds, and you would not have permission to waste. This is obviously problematic when finding a job, but not impossible. Usually the restriction is a minimum of six months, up to a year. At least with an alcohol conviction, there is a chance you wouldn’t have this. Some contracts say no night shift, most say no traveling or home health, and most require you work where you have another RN available to supervise you.

    Even if the Board does not discipline your license (and yes they can discipline a brand new license), they require you to inform your employer of your monitoring status and the employer has to submit either monthly or quarterly reports on your performance to your case manager.

    I won’t list every potential requirement...but I already hit the high notes. I HIGHLY encourage you to go to the Nurse Recovery forum on this site and you will find MANY stories nearly identical to yours. Yes, unfortunately there are many nurses who encountered significant issues obtaining licensure with a DUI in their past. That being said, there are posts in that forum where people struck gold and had very good outcomes and few hoops to jump thru, comparatively.

    I know you are probably horrified that I even mention all this, but I am just being straight up and transparent. I’m assuming that you checked the box in your application that asked about a history of drug and/or alcohol abuse history? That is why you have a date set with the Board?

    You see, your DUI was quite recent; two years may seem like a long time ago, but it’s often not long enough for the Board of Nursing often times. Some people have faced monitoring or even discipline at the start of licensure for DUI’s/substance abuse that happened over a decade before they were ever licensed. The Board doesn’t care so much if you were addicted; a DUI is considered proof of alcohol abuse. You don’t have to have an addiction to face hot water with the Board. Proof of abuse is often plenty.

    Typically, the Board will require all of your court records and they will want to see proof of sobriety;s such as proof you regularly attended AA, have a sponsor, any urines or breathalyzers you took to be compliant with your sentence/probation...yada yada yada.

    Now, I know you are getting ready to tell me that you are not an alcoholic and this was a one time thing. Okay, that’s fine. But I’m just being honest when I say the BON does not care in the slightest and they are never, ever your friend or interested in the backstory of how you made your mistake. They see it as a sign of poor judgement regardless of the mitigating factors, and they want to protect the public from potentially being subjected to poor judgement. If it sounds heartless...well, it just is what it is. They just don’t care.

    I have personal experience in this arena and I have relationships with too many nurses who have been through this process for varying reasons. Hopefully those nurses will chime in.

    My best advice is when you communicate with the Board, don’t make excuses. Own up to what you did, take responsibility, but MOST IMPORTANTLY tell then every single thing you did to fix the problem and what your plan is to keep it from escalating or ever happening again. The Board likes remorse and ownership and they like to see you with a solid plan in place.

    Finally, NJ’s specific monitoring program is called RAMP, or Recovery and Monitoring Program of New Jersey-an alternative to discipline. I encourage you to look them up and read.

    This process typically does not move quickly. We aren’t talking a few weeks here. But you worked hard for your degree and if they offer it to you, I encourage you to find a way to make it work.

    I sincerely hope that you don’t have to face this process. I do. But since you did ask, it wouldn’t be fair to not give you a heads up. Please, please the Nurse Recovery forum. You will find much more information from people who have been in your exact position.

    Hugs and best wishes to you.
  4. by   Lhalty
    Did you disclose your DUI on your application? Did you provide the BON with arrest report and certified court documents? Did you provide them with letter explaining the details of the incident and what steps you took to prevent such thing from happening again? Did get some character letters from your instructors/ employers?
    This could be a lengthy and expensive process so you should find a non nursing job to pay ur bills until the BON decisions comes thru( it may takes months). I hope that I am wrong, wish you luck
  5. by   Em0654
    Thank you for your response. I appreciate it very BERY much. All of what you spoke about are my worst fears. Im going to do whatever it takes. The only hope I havre is in that NJ does not consider DUI's a criminal offense but rather a traffic offense. The little time that has gone by is certainly a major concern for me. October 6th is when I was told the board will review everything. I do not have to appear and have found very little on what it entails. I will moat certainly check out the threads you suggested. I will update when I hear something. Thank you for the well wishes and honest information!
  6. by   Em0654
    Yes! I gave them all the paperwork they requested. Including a narrative and character references. I was worried about 2 things with the paperwork. 1-they asked for superior court papers. My case has heard in municipal court. 2- They asked for the police report. I tried to get that and was told multiple times that they could not supply me with the "police report". They said they can do that for victims of cases, but not for me in this sort of case. I WAS given the "arrest report" though. I was sort of relieved that you used the same terminology, I am hoping that suffices the need. Now, I did write up a letter explaining all of this, as to why those specific documents were not enclosed. All of this was done before I was able to take the NCLEX, so I thought it was all taken care of.
    I was told the board is going to review on October 6th. I do not have to appear. Im under the impression this is when they go over everything and make a decision. Im not really sure though. Super scary stuff.
  7. by   twinsmom788
    please consider appearing before the board. Appearing will give the impression that you really are concerned about the outcome and they can see your face and realize you are what you say you are.

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