Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs in the State of Nevada is a serious matter. The collateral consequences for physicians who are charged with a DUI/DUID are even direr because of the potential effect an arrest for DUI/DUID can have on a physician’s professional license.
A physician licensed in Nevada does not have to report minor traffic violations. A frequent question that is posed to my Firm is whether a DUI/DUID is considered a minor traffic violation and consequently does not need to be reported to the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners or the Nevada Board of Osteopathic Medicine. The answer is NO.
Although you do not have to report minor traffic violations, a DWI (driving while intoxicated) or DUID (driving under the influence of drugs), or similar types of crimes involving the impaired operation of a motor vehicle, are not considered minor traffic violations. Reporting such crimes will not necessarily impair your ability to receive or maintain your Nevada medical license, but you must report them.
Nevada Revised Statutes 630.301 through 630.3065 set out the general laws regarding conduct by a physician constituting grounds for the Board of Medical Examiners to initiate disciplinary action or to deny licensure. Nevada Revised Statutes sets forth issues of criminal offenses; disciplinary action was taken by other jurisdiction; surrender of the previous license while under investigation; malpractice; engaging in sexual activity with the patient; disruptive behavior; violating or exploiting the trust of the patient for financial or personal gain; failure to offer appropriate care with the intent to positively influence financial well-being; engaging in disreputable conduct; engaging in sexual contact with the surrogate of patient or relatives of the patient.
A conviction or arrest for DUI is generally not substantially related to the qualifications, functions, and duties of a physician, but a disciplinary panel can conclude that such an arrest constitutes unprofessional conduct as a ground for discipline. Arrests for DUI by physicians reflect poorly on the profession and consequently, it can be deemed unprofessional conduct and subject a doctor to disciplinary action.
It is important to note that any sanction imposed upon a physician by the Board may be in addition to any other criminal or civil penalty the physician faces. In other words, as a licensed professional you are subject to “double discipline” which translates to discipline by the State for the criminal case, and discipline by the Board for the arrest or conviction.
Drivers convicted of a first DUI must serve either two days to six months in jail or perform 48 to 96 hours of community service while wearing clothing that identifies the driver as someone convicted of DUI. The fine ranges from $400 to $1000. Convicted drivers are also required to pay for and attend an educational course on drug and alcohol abuse and install an IID on their car for 185 days as a condition for getting their license back.
Penalties are more serious for a driver if they have a BAC of .18% or higher. On top of the standard first DUI penalties mentioned above, you may also be required to install an ignition interlock device
(IID) for a period of 12 to 36 months. Along with an IID, you may also be required to attend a drug
and alcohol treatment program.
If you’ve been convicted of a DUI that resulted in wrongful death
or substantial injury
to another motorist or pedestrian, you could face extensive jail time. Nevada law states that someone convicted of a felony DUI could face anywhere between 2 to 20 years in prison and must pay a fine ranging from $2,000 to $5,000.
It is in your interest to report a DUI or DUID to the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners or the Nevada Board of Osteopathic Medicine. Failure to report an arrest or conviction for a DUI/DUID can subject a physician to revocation of his or her license. Written disclosure to the Board’s enforcement division is what is necessary to satisfy the reporting requirement, and the disclosure must be made swiftly after your arrest. In other words, do not wait until your criminal matter has been adjudicated and is dismissed or a judgment of conviction is entered, you should report the arrest to the Board’s enforcement division soon after your arrest. It is also important to note that employers and hospitals may have DUI/DUID reporting requirements in addition to those that are imposed by the Board.
Failure to follow those procedures can result in disciplinary action taken by your employer and the employer is likely to report disciplinary action to the Board who can open an investigation on this basis. Make sure you are in compliance with your employer's reporting requirements. Each hospital has its own rules and regulations, we can help navigate the rules at different hospitals and medical executive committees.
If you have questions concerning reporting requirements it is important to contact an experienced administrative law attorney who handles matters before licensing boards. At the Spartacus Law Firm, we have the experience you need to minimize the harsh consequences of being arrested for a criminal offense. Our goal at the Spartacus Law Firm would be a closure of the file with no disciplinary action, which is the best outcome.
The Board will review a number of factors in evaluating whether a DUI/DUID should be escalated to a formal complaint and subject a physician to an administrative hearing and/or disciplinary action. The Medical or Osteopathic Board will look beyond guilt or innocence when evaluating whether disciplinary action should be taken against a physician. Most commonly, the Board evaluates the record of the case, circumstances surrounding the arrest (factors such as the Blood Alcohol Content or if anyone was harmed or if there was property damage are relevant), the plea that is entered, and the judgment and conviction, and prior disciplinary history. Any prior record of previous DUIs can subject a physician to harsher disciplinary action.