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"Good Moral Character" Review Board/Past DUI Question

Criminal   (226 Views | 3 Replies)

545 Profile Views; 19 Posts

Hi all. I am looking for advice on how to proceed. I just got a letter from the Good Moral Character (GMC) review board for the Massachusetts Board of Nursing, where I applied for licensure by reciprocity. I had to submit documents to the GMC board due to a DUI that I received in 2005. 

Now the GMC board wants "a detailed description of all recovery/rehabilitation activities, interventions and support systems used by applicant to maintain sustained recovery including, but not limited to, statement of the Applicant’s stable and sustained recovery with duration dates and identification if the Applicant has a sponsor with dates." Then underneath it states "indicate if no sponsor".

The DUI -- although I DO NOT want to understate its significance, its weight in my life and its justification, nor how much it taught me -- happened 15 years ago, long before I was a nurse, when I was 24 (I became a nurse when I was 36), on the night before New Year's Eve during a coworker after-work celebration before the holiday break. I was inexperienced with drinking and had 3 beers, which was too much for me in one sitting, and I didn't recognize the signs of my inebriation. However, this was a one-time offense, I have never before or since been arrested or been in any trouble, and I have never had alcohol or other substance addiction.

I do not know how to communicate this to the GMC board. My fear is that (a) I don't know how to word what I am trying to say, and (b) it seems like they could deny my license because I am not "maintaining sustained recovery". I am NOT saying that DUIs don't sometimes, even often, involve someone who has needed addiction help and has needed to start and sustain a recovery effort from alcohol (or whatever substance that led to the DUI). Basically I realize DUIs can often be a wake-up call for an addict. But this is definitely NOT the case for every single DUI recipient, and I honestly do not think every single person who has gotten a DUI needs to "maintain sustained recovery", and I think it does not apply to my specific situation. What should I do? Can anyone give me any advice? 

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juniper222 has 2 years experience and specializes in Pre Nursing.

253 Posts; 1,976 Profile Views

I think you will need an attorney. At least get a consult. 

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TriciaJ has 39 years experience as a RN and specializes in Psych, Corrections, Med-Surg, Ambulatory.

14 Followers; 3,685 Posts; 38,136 Profile Views

You can start  with a letter stating pretty much the same information you provided here.  You did not try to minimize the incident, a factor in your favour.

You might just want to state that you were alcohol-naive at the time and did not realize that you were legally inebriated.  Describe the subsequent events to that, emphasizing what a wake-up call it was to you.  State that in the 15 years since then (yes, I would make sure I threw in exactly how many years it's been) you have maintained a healthy respect for alcohol and it plays no significant factor in your life.

State that you do not misuse or abuse alcohol, you have a 15 year clean driving record (hopefully you do) and a 15 year clean employment record.  State that no relationships in your life are affected by alcohol use, yours or anyone else's.

It seems to me that whoever designed the forms was travelling on the assumption that anyone getting a DUI automatically has a problem with alcohol.  That might usually be the case, but still a broad assumption.  Hopefully some human eyeballs (and discretion) on your letter can put this matter behind you.  If not, you will likely need an attorney.  Good luck.

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19 Posts; 545 Profile Views

Thank you juniper222, I did, right after writing my original post, look up Massachusetts nursing attorneys because I realized that I just didn't want to decide how to proceed, no matter what, without professional guidance. I had a conversation with an attorney who could not take my case because he only deals with insurance issues and does not take private clients. First, he recommended an experienced Massachusetts nursing attorney who could perhaps write my response to the board. After, he talked awhile about a few things I thought I would mention here for anyone in the same predicament later who finds this thread.

In Massachusetts, he told me, the background check goes back a max of 10 years. So if I hadn't provided the info the board would never have known this 15 yr old judgment (he did say that obviously you want to be forthcoming but it's still an interesting fact that I doubt many people know when they are answering the board's initial questionnaire for licensure that asks about any criminal history). He also said that my argument is rather credible sounding on its own, especially given that it was so long ago and I have no other criminal hx or disciplinary actions. He said it would be wise for me, though, to now provide the board with character references especially from any long-time employer, church leader, or police-type of sources that have known me a while. For instance, he mentioned it would be good if I was married to a cop (which I'm not, and I've never belonged to a church). He said that type of additional evidence would really help.  However, he added "the board here, just like any state nursing board, can be fickle or someone could have a bad day and reject your application" which he said is why it was good I was taking this seriously because if they did decide my argument was not good enough and rejected my application it would COUNT AS A DISCIPLINARY ACTION going forward so even if I applied for RN licensure in another state instead after this, I would have to list this now as a disciplinary action. So this predicament really has the potential to mess me up long term, just based off how well I argued that I am not, basically, a person with alcohol dependence who should be in recovery because of a one-time DUI I got at a very young age, 12 years before I became a nurse, which is also such an old judgment I did not even have to technically disclose it. I have often had to remind myself when I start to say these things about how long ago it was and how it was a one-time thing and not indicative of my life since then, that I literally could have killed someone that night that I did get my DUI. Any other alternative (such as not being able to be a nurse) is of such lesser consequence. The cops that night could have been saving a life, who knows. I admit its difficult to always keep this fact in mind when I am in the midst of this stressful situation with the board here.

To keep this post from being really, really long though, I will just wrap up by saying I do think I am definitely adding to the benefit of society as a nurse, however, so I do think it benefits this state to allow me to continue my profession, and yes I am hiring a good nurse attorney now.

Edited by Jessell

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