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DUI in CA. Should I look into other states?


Hi all,

Just going to keep it straight to the point.

I got a DUI during nursing school (about half a year ago) and am going to graduate in May 2015. I have been reading up on a lot of stories of people who are or have been in similar situations (nursing student with a prior DUI) and getting rejected by the CA BRN to take the NCLEX.

My question is this: should I actively look into applying to other states to take the NCLEX? Or should I just apply to the CA BRN for now and wait for their response? I graduate in less than 2 months so I want to get this settled as soon as possible.

Thank you all for taking the time to read this.


Specializes in Neuro, Telemetry. Has 5 years experience.

Honestly, CA is not the only state that you will have trouble getting a license in. The DUI is very fresh, and any state background check is going to see it. It doesnt automatically decline you, but CA wont be much harder to license in than other states. I would just stick in out in CA. If you try to endorse back to CA later, they will still check your background, and you will still have to go through the whole process anyway.

The Board takes things on a case by case basis. Be honest with the board and you shouldn't have problems. It WILL come up and they WILL contact you but relax. And let them contact YOU, don't contact them first, it'll add undo stress that you don't need. And, other advice, never let an employer know about the offence unless you have to (i.e. forms will ask about convictions and on these you have to be honest, but if it only asks about felonies do not "offer up" misdemeanor charges). What I mean is that there is no reason to "come clean" or be "forth coming" to an employer before employment process has started. I got this advise a lot from others and I feel like I missed out on some opportunities because I did this in interviews. Usually the background check is done by HR. In large organizations its HR who makes that call, not your manager, so a lot of times the info never even gets back to your manager. I had to learn this the hard way. Lots of different people in different professions have DUIs. Alcohol is a legal substance. Just don't get another DUI and if you need help with alcohol addiction get help, but that is a very personal decision and I don't feel like you should be forced into it. This is coming from my exp. I have 2 DUIs that I got after being licensed. I did seek help and have been sober for over 2 years but it was a very personal decision and is different for everyone!! I got some harsh and unnecessary advice from lawyers that don't really know about nursing licenses. Just wait and let the board contact you and let them tell you what their expectations of you are. I was referred to a nursing board lawyer but decided not to hire him (be careful, a lot of lawyers just want $ and don't necessarily care about your well being). You really (probably?) only need a nursing board lawyer if you have killed a patient, made a huge medication error or physically abused or hurt someone on the job. I think if while in the process of getting the DUI you did hurt someone you may be in trouble, but that is also a felony offence. I've read a lot of these posts on Allnurses and seems like responses come from people who have not gone through this experience. Please feel free to ask me any other questions and I hope this post is read by others going through your situation.

I would look at other states. California is know to be the most difficult. However, the first of the year (2015) AB Bonta (2396) was passed. It prohibits the board from denying an applicant based solely on a dismissed conviction. You will still have your work cut out for you. I would get it expunged as soon as you can. You might need a lawyer because it was recent but you can do it yourself too.

Other states might be an easier route for you so do look into it. Go to other boards websites and look around for answers. It is not true that every state is the same.

If you have any other questions please ask.

I wanted to add I live in California and have never been licensed in another state.

I also have a DUI from nearly 5 years ago, which was expunged. I was initially denied my application for licensure in CA, so I sent an appeal. I was then granted my authorization to test, and took the NCLEX 4/30. I do not know if I passed because the next step in this process goes to the CA attorney general's office (I do not understand why it is being dealt with so harshly). I will not know my scores until after, as I understand it, I sit in front of the Board and "plead"my case (I think). I find it hard to believe that someone who has already been offered a job pending licensure, done over 1700 hours of volunteer work on TOP of the court ordered probation, has done nothing since, nor before the arrest, and passed NCLEX (I assume I did because it will not let me register on Pearson...) would have to go thru this fire and brimstone type of process. I have been told it will be months before the attorney general gets back to me, I may have a trial, a stipulated license, be required to wait a year to reapply, or be out right denied. It scares me to death, and the most ironic thing is that the more people I talk to, many have more recent or sever offenses, have basically gotten "off" without warning and allowed a full license!!

I think "patience" is the name of the game. I understand the BRN will do whatever they want, and they definitely move slowly. I have also been told that they will make an "example" or a few applications every year...I understand they sort of "police" us, but I wonder who polices them?

Hang in there, try to be patient and don't lose your mind :)

Can you update me on how your situation goes? It will be very appreciated.

Be wary of individuals offering advice that an attorney is not required.

As I see it, at this point you have three options:

1) Do nothing, and waste precious time.

2) Seek out an administrative attorney (TAANA Executive Office - Nurse Attorney Referral Search) who is familiar with the California BON. Make contact and interview several attorneys while inquiring about estimated costs. Retain one who you feel will best assist you through this process. Note: Attorneys do not work for free. Consider their retainer a price paid for your previous mistake.

3) Read the forums and gather what you think matches your situation best, and boldly move forward. I feel that you will find few posts with sufficient detail to guide your way through your upcoming application. Most posts are anecdotal and missing key details. But, apparently the process can be done. Read the success story” posts and make your own decision.

If you chose to move forward without an attorney, carefully consider the money you save in contrast with the potential risk to your license and future career. Your ultimate decision is going to be determined by your tolerance for risk.

Regardless your choice, you have a long, uphill road in front of you. My advice is to dig in for the long haul. You ARE NOT the only applicant with a criminal record. Your 43rd president had a DUI, and his vice president had two DUIs--long before they achieved great things. People can, and do change.

Good luck, and keep us posted.

Please allow me to rephrase a little:

If you don't mind moving there are states that will be easier on your situation. You may still be able to get a clear license in California if you do a lot of work in terms of letters, etc. This is not legal advice (always check for yourself!) but I have "heard" that you can simply submit court paperwork/explanation letter in some states and with only 1 DUI you won't have a problem (assuming no bodily harm, property damage or really high BAC level). I think you have a good chance in California but it will require a lot more work. However, moving is work too. It depends on your needs and wants.

As far as individuals advising you to go to an attorney. I have talked to MANY in this network TAANA and many aren't keen on helping with applications. They often only want to deal with the aftermath of a denial. Unless this person has done this be wary. Be wary of everybody (including me) because we are all limited by what we know and have experienced personally. I have also had many attorneys give me incorrect information so be wary of that too. Always find out for yourself. Get multiple opinions. Decide and move.

I wouldn't apply to another state if you really want to live in California but that is your decision.

I wish you the best of luck. We have all made our share of mistakes. Some of us have them on paper and others don't. Great things are in your future.

I wouldn't hire an attorney. Having gone through the process it is not necessary.

So, how many years should pass before someone should apply for endorsement with CA? I am in the same boat as OP