Is Your Professional License at Risk if You Are Convicted for a DWI in Texas?
Yes, most Texas licensing boards have the right to investigate and can choose to take disciplinary action against individuals who violate their rules and regulations. Following the board’s investigation into your conviction, your license could be suspended, restricted, or revoked. Additionally, you may be subject to fees, fines, mandatory treatment programs, or a probationary period.
Most of these actions against your license are a matter of public record and may affect your professional reputation and employment opportunities for years to come.
While a DWI conviction is not guaranteed to result in disciplinary action from your profession’s licensing board, it can still present an immense risk to your career. Certain professions, such as doctors, EMTs, nurses, and social workers, are held to an extremely high standard of conduct due to the nature of their jobs and are more likely to face serious ramifications for a drunk driving conviction. It is critical for professionals charged with an alcohol-related driving offense to consult an experienced Texas DWI defense lawyer immediately to understand the potential criminal and professional consequences of a conviction and begin exploring legal options.
Why is a DWI Conviction Relevant to a Licensing Agency?
While it may feel like an intrusion into your personal life, the legal reality is that criminal convictions are public knowledge, and licensing agencies have the right to access and use that information. Texas Occupational Code § 53.021 allows nearly all professional licensing boards to investigate and take disciplinary action if you are convicted of a criminal offense.
The reasoning behind permitting these types of investigations is based on the following logic regarding your conviction:
- Implies potential substance abuse issues: Most licensing boards expressly prohibit substance abuse because it can lead to poor performance, a lack of proper judgment, and injuries.
- Demonstrates a lack of trustworthiness: When a licensing agency gives you a license, they are vouching for your abilities as a professional in your field and assuring the community that they can trust your work. If you are convicted of a crime, particularly a DWI or drug-related charge, you have breached that trust, and your credibility is impacted. The agency is within its rights to investigate your case and determine whether you still warrant their certification as a trustworthy practitioner.
- Impacts your ability to operate a vehicle for work: Many professions involve driving as an essential requirement for continued employment. If your ability to drive is revoked or restricted due to a DWI, your professional license may also be endangered.
Which Professional Licenses Could Be Impacted By a DWI Conviction?
Many professions require you to maintain your license to keep employment in that field. Unfortunately, losing your professional license often means losing your job. A DWI conviction is viewed negatively by nearly all licensing agencies and could put the following licenses at risk:
- Medical license
- Nursing license
- Dental license
- Pharmacist’s license
- Law enforcement license
- Daycare operator’s license
- Investment advisor’s license
- Pilot’s license
- Real estate broker’s license
- Teaching license
- Massage therapist license
- Security clearance
- Commercial driver’s license (CDL)
- CPA license
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list and a DWI conviction could jeopardize all varieties of professional licenses. However, individuals in certain professions who are subject to higher standards of conduct due to the trust vested in them by the public are most at risk of license revocations following a criminal conviction. These occupations include doctors, nurses, pharmacists, counselors, law enforcement officers, EMTs, financial advisors, and social workers.
How Can You Mitigate the Damage to Your Professional Reputation?
Ensuring you mount a strong defense to your DWI charge is often the most effective way to protect your license. While certain professional licensing agencies may still investigate an arrest, the consequences are generally much less severe than for a conviction. Unfortunately, even if you avoid conviction or are convicted and still maintain your license, you may face backlash from the public.
An experienced DWI defense lawyer can help you explore options for rehabilitating your professional reputation and mitigating any long-term impacts on your license. Engaging in prompt action can be critical to showing that you are taking the situation seriously and attempting to make amends. Important steps may include:
- Seeking treatment for any substance abuse or mental health issues you are experiencing.
- Carefully following through on court-ordered or licensing board-recommended actions, such as counseling or community service.
- Discuss strategies with your legal team for handling conversations about your DWI case with your employer.
- Be proactive in interacting with your licensing board to show good-faith compliance with regulations.
- Reaching out to a public relations professional for assistance if your case has become high-profile or severely impacted your image.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Professional License?
You have worked hard to obtain the knowledge and training necessary for a professional license. Protecting that license following a DWI arrest can be vital to keeping your job and having valuable opportunities for career advancement in the future. Immediately contacting a trusted Texas DWI defense attorney familiar with professional licensing issues gives you the best chance of avoiding detrimental impacts on your license and employment.
The Greening Law Group can provide the robust, knowledgeable defense services you deserve. Our knowledgeable lawyers can help you fight back against your DWI charges, inform you of legal options that could be beneficial to the outcome of your case, and represent you during an investigation by a state licensing board. Contact our College Station office today at 979-779-2000 to schedule a no-obligation case evaluation.