First off, you may be wondering, what’s the difference between a DUI and DWI? You have likely heard them used interchangeably. Before 1983, DWI was used in North Carolina to indicate a higher offense than DUI. However, in 1983, North Carolina’s Safe Roads act eliminated the distinction. Now all cases of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other illicit substances, as well as driving with an open container, and helping a minor to obtain alcohol, all fall under the umbrella of DWI, or Driving While Impaired.
Can a DWI Affect Professional Licenses?
In short, absolutely. The consequences of a DWI are far-reaching and go beyond the courtroom. A conviction of DWI can affect employment prospects as well as your current employment. Employers may view a conviction of DWI as a liability, particularly if the individual works in a capacity where they are responsible for others lives. Nurses have to make precise medication dosage calculations and perform treatments and tests that have little to no margin for error. For this reason, DWIs are taken very seriously.
However, it is not usually a judge or jury that decides whether a nurse can keep their license. The jury will decide on the verdict, and, if the jury finds the defendant guilty, a judge will determine the sentence. The judge may consider a variety of factors in their sentencing decision, such as whether the individual has previous DWIs. The judge can decide to sentence the individual to jail or community service. There are often other options available, too, such as a plea bargain or deferred sentencing. Having a lawyer helps to ensure that you are made aware of all available options so that you can make the best decision for yourself moving forward.
Who Decides if I Can Keep my Nursing License?
Ultimately, it is the North Carolina Board of Nursing that determines whether an individual convicted of DWI can keep their license, or what an appropriate penalty may be. The North Carolina Board of Nurses can suspend or revoke a nursing license for a variety of reasons, ranging from standard disciplinary reasons to a conviction or guilty plea to a crime that endangered public health, shows them to be unfit, or defrauded the public.
The best way to avoid these consequences, is to avoid getting convicted. Your best shot at avoiding conviction is to hire a lawyer as soon after you are arrested as possible. A lawyer will know how to navigate this process in your best interest. They can challenge the efficacy of the police test, and assess whether the testing equipment was sufficiently calibrated to the necessary legal standard, all of which may be bases for dismissal.
Speak to a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you have been charged with a DWI in North Carolina, and are concerned about the impact a conviction could have on your career, it is critical that you contact an experienced North Carolina criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will zealously advocate for you and determine the best path forward to a favorable outcome. Contact the criminal defense lawyers at Coastal South Law for a consultation today.