Arrested for DUI- should I put it on my nursing school application?

Nurses Nurse Beth


Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I hope your day is going well. My dilemma is as follows: I am to apply to a nursing program in the state of Georgia on May 1st of this year. I was arrested on January 8th of this year for first time DUI also in Georgia. I currently have a DUI attorney looking into my case. He says that I could put that I have not been convicted of any Misdemeanors or Felonies on my application. I do NOT have any prior record whatsoever. Do you think this is a good idea? Also, if I do indeed end up being convicted AFTER I got accepted (if I got accepted), could this be an issue? Thank you for your time and have a wonderful day!

Dear Georgia,

I'm sorry to hear this. A DUI can affect your ability to get into nursing school, your ability to take the NCLEX, and your employment. The good news is you have an attorney- that would have been my first piece of advice.

The biggest problem for you is the timing and uncertainty. A DUI from your past does not carry as much weight as a recent DUI. Proof of recovery and rehabilitation takes time. Misdemeanors are far less damaging than felonies, and you don't know the outcome yet. Hopefully, your BAC will lend more towards a misdemeanor, and you have no priors.

It is very important to answer the questions on your nursing school application exactly as asked. But you see the problem- you could technically and truthfully answer "No" to "Do you have any convictions?" full well knowing that you have a pending conviction.

So you could take the technical truth road, and not disclose. Or you could pre-emptively address the situation. I would be inclined to talk to the school, find out how a DUI affects your nursing school application, and go from there.

Keep in mind that even if you get into nursing school you will still have to apply for eligibility to take the NCLEX. Unlike nursing schools and employers, the BON conducts an FBI level background check. Even expunged records are revealed, so never conceal an expungement to the BON. Here's some advice for writing a letter of explanation to the BON when the time comes.

Best wishes,

Nurse Beth

Specializes in Geriatrics, Dialysis.

Big question is will the case be resolved by the time you need to submit your application? If so you'll know by then how you need to answer that question. You will either be convicted of a DUI, convicted of a lesser charge or if incredibly lucky and with good representation maybe not convicted of anything at all.

If the case is not resolved by then it's a trickier question. You can at that point in time honestly say you haven't been convicted, but since the possibility exists that you could be convicted after the application is submitted it definitely might come back to haunt you. My best suggestion is to run all your options by your attorney before submitting that application if you don't know the outcome of the case by then. After all, you are paying him for advice regarding these charges so let him do his job.

Be aware if you are convicted a DUI can definitely have a negative affect on not only your education goals but also your eventual goal to get that nursing license. Of course every state has different policies through the individual State Boards of Nursing but I can pretty much guarantee every state will require you to declare any convictions. How the state you are planning to apply for a license in responds and what they expect from you to get that license can vary wildly from state to state. It would be a good idea to at least consult with an attorney familiar with licensing issues as well. Initial consultations are usually no charge plus you can probably get a referral to an appropriate lawyer from your attorney in the criminal case.

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