A DUI can result in serious consequences for your medical license in California. In certain cases, depending on the seriousness of the facts, jail time may be ordered, not to mention considerable restitution to be paid to victim(s) of the offense, court ordered penalties and assements, AA/NA classes and many other criminal probationary requirements. These are just the criminal conviction aspects of a DUI—what can happen to your medical license after a DUI conviction? The short answer is: It depends!
Many California physicians do not realize that being arrested for DUI even if the incident occurred nowhere near a patient/hospital/medical setting may still be considered “substantially related” to the practice of medicine. The language of the law governing what conduct is subject to discipline by the Medical Board of California is intentionally broad and covers much more conduct than doctors think it does. California Business and Professions Code Section 2236 states that the conviction of any offense substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a physician constitutes unprofessional conduct which can be cause for disciplinary action. We have met with many doctors who are shocked to learn that a DUI they suffered driving home from a party or social gathering which had nothing to do with their treatment of a patient is considered “substantially related” to the practice of medicine such that the medical license was subject to Board discipline. Even a doctor’s first ever DUI may result in discipline, depending on the facts of the case and conviction.
There are very important criminal reporting requirements which California physicians must adhere to in order to avoid making things worse for their medical license. Business and Professions Code 802.1 states that a California physician must report:
- The bringing of an indictment or information charging a felony against the license;
- The conviction of the licensee, including any verdict of guilty, or plea of guilty or no contest, of any felony or misdemeanor.
The Medical Board has a link to the required reporting form on its website and great care should be taken to report the conviction and background facts accurately—this is usually best accomplished with the help of an experienced administrative law attorney. Adam Brown, our managing partner, has assisted countless doctors in properly and completely satisfying this reporting requirement to the Medical Board of California, and he is happy to assist new clients in doing so to avoid additional discipline for an alleged failure to timely report the above criminal events. Please be sure you do NOT miss any of these reporting requirements, as the Board will almost certainly look very unfavorably upon such an omission, likely resulting in more discipline that would otherwise be taken against the doctor’s license.
What Does the Board Look For?
This is also a highly complex and invidualized question which varies by case. Some of the primary issues involved in the Board’s analysis of DUI conviction include:
- Whether the doctor has any prior history of DUI conviction(s);
- If priors exist, how long since the last conviction?
- What the doctor’s BAC level was? (Obviously, the higher the blood-alcohol content, the worse it usually is.)
- Were there any bodily injuries?
- Any property damage?
- Is the doctor remorseful and accountable?
- Does the doctor have any prior discipline by the Medical Board?
- Moving forward, is the doctor compliant with all terms of criminal probation?
…and many others. These are just a few examples to illustrate some of the most common considerations. Surprisingly, a reduction in penalty level as a result of a plea deal or plea negotiation with the prosecutor does not mean a lot with regard to the Board’s decision to discipline a doctor or not—the Board will go “behind the plea,” as we call it, and make its own investigation before decided what action to take or not take against a doctor’s license. Even an acquittal at trial does not guarantee a doctor’s license will be free of disciplinary action by the Board, incredible as that may seem.
Call our attorneys today for a free consultation if you find yourself faced with a DUI allegation—we will help you best protect your medical license and can also defend you in criminal court. Call today for a free consultation with our attorneys. (310) 792-1315.
DUI Disciplinary Measures
There are quite a few disciplinary options the Medical Board of California has at its disposal. These include:
- Administrative investigation: this involves a Board inspector or investigator contacting a doctor for questioning and possibly to set up an investigative interview. Note that you should NEVER speak to the Board investigator in this situation without consulting an attorney first!!
- Filing of an Interim Suspension Order (“ISO”): This is an extreme measure the Board can take to attempt to immediately stop the physician from practicing medicine pending the final outcome of any disciplinary action the Board may take.
- Filing a “Citation” against the doctor. This is akin to an “infraction” in criminal cases is a lesser severity of discipline, but one that may still be appealed. Our experienced attorneys can assist with these appeals and have vast experience doing so successfully.
- Filing an “Accusation” against the doctor. This is a formal legal effort to suspend and/or revoke the medical license and requires an immediate response to avoid what is known as a “default” revocation for failing to respond to the Accusation timely.
If you receive a Medical Board of California ACCUSATION, you should immediately give us a call to best protect your career and your legal rights as time is extremely important in this situation. If you miss your deadline to request a hearing in response to the Accusation filed against you, give us a call, as we may very likely be able to avoid a default revocation from being taken against your medical license.
- Investigative subpoena: such a subpoena may require the doctor’s presence at an investigative interview and/or may require the production of various documents or records.
- Public Letter of Reprimand: This is what it sounds like and becomes part of the doctor’s online record for a period of time. Lead attorney Adam Brown recently negotiated such a result for his physician client who was seriously disciplined in another state. No probation was ordered and the physician is able to practice medicine in California with no restrictions.
- Closure of file with no action taken. This is, of course, the best outcome possible.
There are additional actions the Board can take, but the majority are summarized above. If you’re faced with a DUI or other criminal charge(s), do not speak to the Board directly, but immediately call our attorneys to protect you and guide you though this complicated process. You truly should have counsel when facing Board discipline or investigation, as this is now an adversarial matter in which you must protect your license aggressively.
The good news is that our attorneys are able to settle the vast majority of Accusation cases filed by the Medical Board—usually resulting in no loss of the medical license. We can put our extensive experience to work for your license, as well, but urge you to call us before you even consider speaking directly to a Board investigator or the Attorney General (the Board’s attorneys). Just as in a criminal matter, when an investigator tells you that speaking to them “will only help yourself out,” that couldn’t be further from the truth. Don’t fall for that trap—give us a call immediately so we may protect you and your medical license.
Get the Right Help
It’s important to get the right kind of help if you are facing an investigation, accusation, or other disciplinary action from the Medical Board of Calfornia. Any lawyer that you are considering hiring to help you should have experience in administrative hearings, and a track record of dealing with these very specific types of actions by the Medical Board of California.
We are proud of our vast record of success in defending doctors faced with criminal charges and/or discipline by the Board—call us today to protect you. It’s what we do and what we love doing.
At Brown & Brown we are proud of the results that we have been able to achieve for nearly all of our clients, many of whom were convinced they would never be able to practice medicine ever again.
This blog is meant to provide information on current news and general information. It is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor is any attorney-client relationship established by its posting on this website. If you are facing a situation that involves your professional license, consult with a licensed attorney.