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Arrested for DUID on Way to Work- Will I Lose my License?

Nurse Beth   (2,678 Views | 15 Replies)
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Writer Innovator Expert Nurse

Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho.

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Dear Nurse Beth,

I would not have believed this had it not occurred to me; my commute time became 3x longer after a  road wash-out, woke up at 0130 AM. Felt mild fatigue halfway through 2h commute, hit with overwhelming fatigue by N/B lanes of a canyon connecting my rural route to freeway. Stopped by a CHP #1 known to me from workplace (county jail) and who lives in tiny town I also live in. N/B lanes CHP #1 stops me, advises he'd had reports I was weaving, told him I had trouble staying awake. He advised me "open windows, pound coffee et al", told him I would try.

Within minutes it's apparent to me I cannot stay awake and I pull into turn-out of my own volition; moments later CHP #1 pulled in behind me stating "you only have 14 miles to go, you can make it", I advise him I cannot stay awake, don't think I can.  He was insistent and given the route would have required getting on freeway I turned onto road connecting to S/B lanes, last thing CHP #1 yells is that I am going the 'wrong way.' I THOUGHT he meant against traffic which freaked me out, he meant I was not going direction he wanted me to; I avoided freeway but still in non-injury MVA in S/B lanes and promptly arrested by officer #2 for DUID (I did not tell CHP #2 @ CHP #1, he would not have believed me and CHP #1 had non elected to remain.)

It's my 1st arrest in life for anything, should not have said a word as CHP #2 and did not say a lot, arrest report sounds nonsensical as I'd told CHP #2 where I WAS going to prior to turning from N/B-S/B lanes; felt the less I said the better as I was still freaked out by CHP #1 telling me I was going 'wrong way'.

I do take Rx meds for pain, have continuously since 2005 major MVA and never thought 'impaired' by anyone  yet 'magically' impaired due to a CHP report citing they are in my blood? After 14 years they barely touch pain... I have found them neither sedating nor mood altering, employee health aware as I'd noted them upon hire 3 years ago.

I'd prefer not being besieged w/ chronic, substantial pain. I'd prefer an not out of pocket alternative which works. I am acquainted with mood altering substances given I spent until 1989 in pursuit of same (ETOH, cocaine, LSD) I still attend AA/NA. I fail to see any great 'high' in pain Rx but I am aware we have war on people in pain and that one 'acceptable' drug, ETOH, which has society blessing but I digress.

Now that BRN is aware of same RX which has been in my blood for 14 years my RN career is over. The moment my hand was scanned at PD I knew this. I've not been convicted of anything yet, however attorney advises no deal due to A. conservative county and B. accident. Given I did not elect to drive I wrote DA myself as attorney failed to mention and I will not commit perjury against myself in stating I 'wantonly' elected to drive when I'd pulled over.

While CHP #1 advised my husband he 'feels bad' about insisting I drive he retracted when I'd called, now. I cannot fight BRN, not going to try; too old, too much pain, too poor and would quickly grow annoyed at people who have never touched anything aside from ETOH advising me what is mood altering and what is not.

Now, my actual query is thus; are RNs actually disallowed from taking an Rx if it is controlled? I just fail to see the 'magical thinking' that goes with nobody thinking of me as being impaired in 14 years including employee health for any job. I'd have made another career choice had I known how Draconian BRN is.

Dear Arrested,

Being arrested for a DUI or DUID is life-changing to say the least, and more so for an RN.

The accident and charges will be reported to the BRN. Impairment of any kind is grounds for possible disciplinary action by the Board. In your case, no one was injured, thankfully, and you were not taking illegal drugs. This doesn't necessarily mean you will lose your license. There are RNs who take prescription medications, including pain medication, while working. 

Your attorney  "advises no deal", does that mean he is not trying to get the charges reduced or dropped? Getting the charges dropped or reduced would help immensely in terms of fines, your employment, and the BRN. You really need to get an attorney with experience representing nurses to the BRN.

The duty of the BRN is to determine if you are a safe practitioner and to protect the public. The BRN evaluates cases on an individual basis. Ask your attorney if it would help to get a letter  from your doctor explaining your condition and that you have a tolerance to opioids and their effects, if that is the case. If you have 14 yrs of good performance evaluations, that should help as well.

If you are given an opportunity to write a letter of explanation to the BRN, take great care in composing the letter. It needs to strike a tone of remorse and one of taking responsibility. 

 Good luck to you.

Best wishes, 

Nurse Beth

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

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glane5910 specializes in ER, IR, Pre-Op, PACU.

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The BRN can still take action even if the criminal charges are dropped. I know of one RN in Calif that was arrested for DUI. The DA dropped the charges because her ETOH was under the limit just barely. The BRN suspended her license and she was placed on 3 years probation.

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Definitely get a an attorney that specializes in healthcare professionals, if possible nursing. I had a regular criminal attorney for a charge and later hired a nurse attorney and wished I'd known about them from the beginning. 

Edited by myopicpdxchick

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Michelle Gomez RN MSN MBA NEBC specializes in Perioperative Services.

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Dear Arrested,

A DUI is not a deal breaker. The BRN may require monitoring, a peer assistance program, and /or monitoring by your facility.

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18 Posts; 1,343 Profile Views

Why couldn't they have just left you alone to set your phone alarm take a power nap? They tell people not to drive tired, yet they INSISTED you drive tired?  They are partially responsible. 

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Undercat has 41 years experience as a BSN, MSN, CRNA and specializes in Retired.

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If a nurse is in so much pain that they must take a narcotic continuously, they are too sick to work as a nurse.  No employer would want it known that one of their staff was working with a positive drug screen...period.  I also don't think that the person using.the narcotic is the best judge of their fitness for duty.  Psychometric testing perhaps will become a useful tool but judgement is difficult to evaluate.  Please search for a lawyer who has experience with your BON to represent you and good luck.

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171 Posts; 991 Profile Views

2 hours ago, NurseJarheadMedic said:

Why couldn't they have just left you alone to set your phone alarm take a power nap? They tell people not to drive tired, yet they INSISTED you drive tired?  They are partially responsible. 

There’s a lot of parts of this story that don’t really add up. 

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171 Posts; 991 Profile Views

I can’t follow any of this: 

“Given I did not elect to drive I wrote DA myself as attorney failed to mention and I will not commit perjury against myself in stating I 'wantonly' elected to drive when I’d pulled over.” 


This whole story is hard to follow, and several sentences are incoherent, but I will just say that it’s always a terrible idea to represent yourself in court. I don’t really know if that’s what you meant by “myself as attorney” but if so, knock it off and don’t do any communication without your lawyer. 

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7 hours ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

I can’t follow any of this: 

“Given I did not elect to drive I wrote DA myself as attorney failed to mention and I will not commit perjury against myself in stating I 'wantonly' elected to drive when I’d pulled over.” 


This whole story is hard to follow, and several sentences are incoherent, but I will just say that it’s always a terrible idea to represent yourself in court. I don’t really know if that’s what you meant by “myself as attorney” but if so, knock it off and don’t do any communication without your lawyer. 

It reads to me as 'wrote to DA myself as (my) attorney failed to mention this factoid.' I am not a lawyer however it is my understanding that law enforcement cannot legally advise someone to drive when individual states they cannot. It is also evidence that officer #1 did not note anything more than fatigue. 

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505 Posts; 5,206 Profile Views

7 hours ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

I can’t follow any of this: 

“Given I did not elect to drive I wrote DA myself as attorney failed to mention and I will not commit perjury against myself in stating I 'wantonly' elected to drive when I’d pulled over.” 


This whole story is hard to follow, and several sentences are incoherent, but I will just say that it’s always a terrible idea to represent yourself in court. I don’t really know if that’s what you meant by “myself as attorney” but if so, knock it off and don’t do any communication without your lawyer. 

It is not incoherent, just complex. 

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Asystole RN is a BSN, RN and specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

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22 hours ago, CommunityRNBSN said:

There’s a lot of parts of this story that don’t really add up. 

The author is still tired.

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Asystole RN is a BSN, RN and specializes in Vascular Access, Infusion Therapy.

2,286 Posts; 25,407 Profile Views

On 12/12/2019 at 9:17 AM, NurseJarheadMedic said:

Why couldn't they have just left you alone to set your phone alarm take a power nap? They tell people not to drive tired, yet they INSISTED you drive tired?  They are partially responsible. 

It is very easy to misunderstand or remember facts incorrectly, especially if you are tired or impaired.

It is scary how easy it is to implant false memories, my kids love a show called Mind Games or something like that where a significant part of the show involves implanting of false memories. 

If it sounds incredible and unusual, it usually is. 

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