How to Help Protect Your Professional License Following a DWI or other criminal charges

You’ve likely heard horror stories about fellow professionals losing their license because of a criminal charge like a DWI, or being forced into invasive monitoring programs in order to maintain their license after a DWI. Many other crimes can have the same effect.

General Law on Licensing and Convictions:

How to Help Protect Your Professional License Following a DWI or other criminal charges

You’ve likely heard horror stories about fellow professionals losing their license because of a criminal charge like a DWI, or being forced into invasive monitoring programs in order to maintain their license after a DWI. Many other crimes can have the same effect.

General Law on Licensing and Convictions:

The umbrella statute on convictions that applies to nearly all licensed occupations is Texas Occupations Code Section 53.021, which provides that a licensing authority may suspend or revoke a license or disqualify a person from receiving a license “on the grounds that the person has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that directly relates to the occupation.” While this portion of the statute is discretionary, Section 53.021 also requires that an occupational license be revoked upon imprisonment following a felony conviction or revocation from probation or parole.

Unfortunately, many agencies view nearly all offenses as directly relating to the occupation they regulate.

For most of the working population, a criminal charge is embarrassing and costly. For health care and other licensed professionals, a DWI can be career-ending. The good news is that there are things you can do to help minimize and protect your license from the risk of loss of licensure, restrictions, and monitoring requirements.

Jarvis, Garcia, and Erskine Law is dedicated to helping health professionals protect their license. We know that you worked hard for your license and we will work hard to help you maintain it. The outcome in large part depends on three critical factors:

  • do you have an alcohol or drug addiction
  • is this your first offense
  • are you able to prove to the relevant Board:
    1. that this was an isolated situation
    2. You are safe to practice
    3. You would not benefit from a period of monitoring
    4. You do not need active supervision

Our attorneys will work through these critical steps with you and help prove to the relevant Board that you are capable of continuing without an intervention.

How to Help Protect Your License Following a DWI or other criminal charges:

  1. Retain an Attorney Experienced In Both Criminal Law and Professional Licensing

First, do not under any circumstances contact the relevant interventional program. Contrary to the mission statement of the relevant state programs, they are not there to help you and guide you. Their job is to protect the public! Of course, this is a very subjective mission and open to aggressive interpretation. Uninformed co-workers or supervisors may encourage you to report your charges to the governing boards. Resist the temptation! Your first call after being charged with a DWI or any other criminal offense should be to an attorney, preferably an attorney that practices both criminal defense and professional licensing.

If you have already retained an attorney to handle the criminal charge, we can work with your attorney to make sure statements are not made in court or in pleadings that harm your case with the licensing boards. Please do not try to handle the licensing aspect by yourself or with someone who does not have experience with the professional boards. All too often we receive calls from professionals who were encouraged by a criminal defense attorney to plead no contest to a criminal offense, and now they are facing disciplinary action by the board. Unfortunately, some criminal defense attorneys simply do not know that a no contest plea is viewed by the boards as similar to a guilty plea. Some criminal defense attorneys fail to consider the licensing ramifications when advising clients on a DWI or other similar offense, or it’s simply outside their scope of representation. Therefore, you need an attorney who has experience and can handle both criminal law and professional licensing to ensure that your charge is handled in a manner that will minimize licensing action.

  1. Evaluation Options

Second, our attorneys will work with you to obtain support that you do not have a substance abuse problem and that you would not benefit from treatment or monitoring. We will work with you to select a treatment provider who specializes in substance dependency/addiction. The selected professional will conduct a detailed assessment including 1 or 2 clinical sessions and the administration of the MMPI 2-RF and often the SASE inventory. This process is superior to the HPRP, IPN, and PRN intake/evaluation process and provides a strong background for the necessary recommendations to the Board that:

  • This was an isolated situation
  • You are safe to practice
  • You would not benefit from a period of monitoring
  • You do not need active supervision

Please use caution if you decide to obtain your own evaluation from a provider not approved by our attorneys. Certain providers, under certain circumstances, may be required to report licensed professionals to the State if they find that the licensed professional is impaired. We strongly encourage licensed professionals to contact our attorneys for assistance in obtaining an evaluation. Our attorneys will ensure that that provider has the proper credentials and affiliations, applies the correct testing methods, and provides a report containing certain information that will assist in reporting and/or disciplinary action following a criminal charge.

  1. Reporting Options

Third, we will work with you to report the conviction and prepare the necessary pleadings to argue your case before the relevant Board or Administrative Law Judge. In all cases, the Board’s concern is that you are safe to practice and that you are not impaired. Therefore, if step two reveals that you are impaired, we will work with you to obtain the best resolution possible. This may include working with HPRP, IPN, PRN or OPHP to obtain the right monitoring agreement. However, the decision to call HPRP, IPN, PRN or OPHP should not be made without proper legal advice. If you have a dependency or impairment problem, the interventional programs are there to help; if you do not have a dependency/impairment problem, the interventional programs are a nightmare and need to be avoided at all costs.

 

Our goal is to help licensed professionals maintain a full unrestricted license without the need for monitoring. We are passionate about the defense of professionals and fight aggressively to help protect their license, career, and reputation.