Criminal Infraction? Writing a Letter of Explanation to the BON

Ashley is sick with worry. She has made it through nursing school and applied to the BON for testing privileges. Her application was denied because she was convicted of driving under the influence (DUI) years ago. The BON is requiring a Letter of Explanation. She's at a loss on how to compose the letter, and everything is at stake for her. Nurses Nurse Beth Article


A criminal history does not mean that you cannot become a nurse, but it may mean extra work and extra expenses. If you have a previous offense, maybe you, like Ashley, must now write a letter of explanation regarding your offense or DUI to the BON.

Your Letter of Explanation is highly important. It determines your future. You will be judged as to your level of remorse, insight, and personal responsibility for the incident.

It must be genuine, concise and honest.


Start with the incident. State what happened simply, factually and chronologically. Do not offer excuses or cast blame, but do include underlying circumstances.

It's in your favor to describe the conditions in your life that affected your decisions and behavior at the time. Most bad choices don't come out of nowhere, and the people who will be reading your letter understand that. It's important to convey that you are not making excuses for your behavior. You are simply describing the circumstances that contributed to your choices.

Personal Insight

Perhaps the most important and the key to success is showing insight into your own behavior. Everyone makes mistakes...but have you learned from your mistakes?

Tell the BON exactly what you've learned about yourself, and how your values have changed. Maybe you were impulsive and immature at the time, but now you value long-term gratification over instant gratification.

Rehabilitative Lifestyle Changes

Show the BON without a doubt that you have taken responsibility. What have you changed in your life to ensure that this behavior would not happen in the future?

List everything you've done to prevent future occurrences. Did you receive counseling, attend a recovery program, do community work? Include compliance with terms of probation, restitution, or parole.

You may live in a different location with positive influences now, or maybe you've joined or even lead support groups. Show that you are not the same person who committed the offense. You have different friends and you make good choices.

Show Remorse

You are genuinely sorry for what you did. You now understand that you could have harmed yourself, or other people.

You can't change the past, but you can control your future behavior. You have grown from this and regret the choices you made in the past.

You are remorseful.

Enlist Help

It's best to get help from someone to write this, unless you are very confident in your writing skills. At the very least, have your letter proofed for grammar and spelling by 3 separate individuals who will be honest with you.

Some applicants find it helpful to retain a lawyer during the process, to ensure that the licensing process goes smoothly. This can be expensive, and not all attorneys accept payments over time. Start saving for legal expenses in advance if you anticipate a problem,.

Letters of Reference

Letters of reference should be on official letterhead from employers, nursing instructors, health professionals, professional counselors, parole or probation officers, or other individuals in positions of authority who are knowledgeable about your rehabilitation efforts.

They must be signed and dated within the past year.

What to Expect

You may face probation, a conditional license with probation terms, a fine, or citation. If your DUI was a fairly low BAC, you may only face a letter of reprimand or a citation and fine.

Do not ignore any mail from the BON or Attorney General's office. Make sure your current address is on file at all times.

Your failure to respond to the Statement of Issues will result in the denial of your license application by a default process.

Cases are decided on an individual basis, and may take some time. Be patient and persevere.

My licensing attorney had said it is better to disclose than have them find out and decline you because the will see it as dishonest and that you are hiding something.

Honestly it is highly unlikely that they would deny you for such an old infraction that you did the diversion program for.

But they very well likely would deny you for hiding it and being in their eyes "sneaky" or "dishonest" about your past.

1 Votes

Hello! Thanks for sharing tips on what to include in the letter of explanation. I'm just wondering, how long should the letter be?

1 Votes
Specializes in Tele, ICU, Staff Development.
yndee13 said:
Hello! Thanks for sharing tips on what to include in the letter of explanation. I'm just wondering, how long should the letter be?

There's no prescribed length, but it should be concise, not wordy or repetitive. That means draft the letter, put it down, modify it, put it down, have someone else with editing skills critique it.

It is harder to be powerful, punchy and concise than it is to be wordy. Put yourself in the reader's shoes. Most will not want to read more than 2 pages, and that includes plenty of white space.

1 Votes

How do I write a letter to the BON get get my narcotics privileges back 

Specializes in med surg.

Be honest and take responsibility.  Don't make light of it, or try to blame someone else.  Then you need to show remorse and how you've grown and what steps you have taken to rehabilitate yourself.  

1 Votes