If you are a licensed professional in California, a DUI conviction could affect your license status. In this age when law enforcement information is immediately shared electronically with the state, which in turn, alerts the state boards that license certain professions, you can be sure the board that license you will learn of your DUI conviction. Typically, the license board will receive notice from the state within 30 days of a conviction. Furthermore, most state licensing boards require current licensees to report any conviction, including DUIs within a certain period of time.
After a DUI conviction, the licensing board will conduct an inquiry and/or investigation. Licensing Boards will usually contact the licensee and ask for his or her explanation of the conviction. Depending on the nature of the conviction and the particular license, the licensing board may conduct an administrative hearing before an administrative judge. This hearing is similar to a court trial but less formal. The licensee has the right to present evidence and have an attorney present to represent him or her. Administrative hearings are serious business, the judges are often tough and the state often will paint the licensee as an alcoholic, based only on the evidence that the licensee received a DUI.
While the statutes governing California professional licenses provide that the conviction must be substantially related to the function and duty of the profession in order to sanction the licensee, the licensing boards take wide latitude in interpreting those grounds. For example, a licensing board could take the position that the profession requires good judgment and driving under the influence demonstrates a lack of judgment. Or, as is often the case, the licensing board makes the argument that the DUI conviction exhibits “unprofessional conduct.” Multiple DUIs or a DUI with aggravating circumstances can, and usually will, result in the suspension or revocation of a professional license. Certain professionals may be subject to stern sanctions after only one DUI.