A DUI carries with it a host of penalties, including fines, the installation of an ignition interlock devices, and possibly even jail time. But if you are a licensed professional, you could be risking you entire career over one DUI conviction.
Many Professionals are at Risk
If your profession requires a license, then you could potentially be suspended or denied a license because of a DUI conviction. Among the professions regulated by California include:
* Police officer
Example #1: An Attorney
The California bar regulates the legal profession in California and is empowered to revoke or suspend a license for any conviction evincing moral turpitude or for any other criminal conviction warranting discipline.
As a general rule, the state will not discipline an attorney for a misdemeanor drunk driving conviction. However, there is precedent for the state bar disciplining a lawyer for having two drunk driving convictions and other evidence of a drinking problem. In the 1990 case In re Kelley, an attorney had his license suspended for two drunk driving offenses.
A lawyer can also be disciplined if someone is killed or seriously injured in a drunk driving incident.
Example #2: Teachers with a DUI
The Commission on Teacher Credentialing regulates the teaching profession in California. It is empowered to discipline teachers for criminal convictions.
Serious crimes like sex offenses or murder will result in automatic suspension. But what about a DUI?
One 2010 case, Broney v. California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, involved a teacher with three DUIs incurred over several years. The court analyzed a variety of factors, such as the impact on students and likelihood of recurrence and found that the teacher warranted discipline.
Although one DUI might not be enough to endanger your license, it certainly sets the stage for a suspension if you get another DUI or other criminal conviction.
Example #3: Doctors and DUI
Doctors are regulated by the Medical Board of California, which can investigate a doctor convicted of a crime.
The Board can discipline a doctor if a crime is substantially related to their qualifications as a doctor. Under the Business and Professions Code 2239, two or more DUI misdemeanors qualify as unprofessional conduct warranting discipline.
In a 2002 case, the court found that three DUIs were substantially related to the practice of medicine. However, a single DUI probably will not cause you to lose or be unable to get a license. Instead, many people have received probationary licenses after having a drunk driving conviction.
The key in all of these cases will be whether the applicant disclosed the conviction at the time they applied for their professional license. It is always better to disclose an incident and provide evidence of rehabilitation rathe than to hide a conviction, including DUI convictions.
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