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Louisiana DWI & Nursing Licensure

The consequences of a DWI conviction in Louisiana can have a significant impact on your life, particularly if you work or wish to work in the field of nursing, which requires a professional license and continual reporting of your criminal background to the licensing board. In this article, we will outline the impact of a DWI arrest and/or conviction on your ability to take the NCLEX, apply for a nursing license in Louisiana and maintain your nursing license.

Will a DWI conviction affect my ability to take the NCLEX exam in Louisiana?

Becoming a nurse with a DWI conviction is not impossible, but may present some challenges. Whether a past DWI conviction will impact your ability to take the NCLEX depends on how long ago the conviction was entered, if you have had any convictions or problems related to alcohol or drug abuse since that time, and any other factors that could indicate to the Board that you might have an ongoing substance abuse problem.

Furthermore, the Board may deny you the ability to enter or progress in clinical nursing courses for a period of time due to a history of DWI offenses.

I was just arrested for DWI in Louisiana. Do I need to disclose this arrest on my application for a nursing license?

Not only do you need to disclose a DWI arrest when applying for a nursing license in Louisiana, but a pending DWI case will temporarily disqualify you from sitting for the NCLEX. To be approved to take the NCLEX, you may not have any pending criminal charges against you. In support of your application, you are required to submit to a criminal background check, which would reveal your arrest and pending case.

If you have just been arrested for DWI, you should wait to apply to take the NCLEX until a judgement is entered or your case is dismissed, and focus on defending yourself against these charges, so they do not result in a conviction. An experienced DWI lawyer in Louisiana can assist you in doing so and could possibly even negotiate with the prosecutor to get your case dismissed, depending on the facts.

Can I apply to be a registered nurse in Louisiana with a past DWI conviction?

While a prior DWI conviction will not prevent you from applying to become an RN, you may be denied approval to take the NCLEX and be denied a temporary permit due to previous DWI convictions. The Board may also delay your approval to take the NCLEX for a period of time.

In some cases, denial of your application to take the NCLEX is mandatory. According to the rules of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, if an applicant has 2 or more misdemeanor crime convictions that reflect an inability to practice nursing safely, including DWI convictions, their application must be denied for a minimum of 5 years. Even if you only have one DWI conviction, your application can be denied if there are aggravating circumstances like an ongoing problem with alcohol or drug abuse.

I was just convicted of DWI in Louisiana. Will I lose my nursing license?

If you are a registered nurse in Louisiana, you are required to report any new conviction to the Board. Even if you are convicted for DWI outside of Louisiana, if you are an RN in Louisiana, you must report the conviction to the Board. The Board will review the record to determine whether the facts indicate that this incident was an isolated event or if you have an ongoing problem with alcohol addiction. The Board may require you to undergo a drug and/or alcohol evaluation and, depending on the results, may require you to be subject to a period of monitoring and participate in a treatment program.

If this is your first DWI offense, you will likely be required to undergo an evaluation, but it is unlikely that you will lose your nursing license, unless the circumstances surrounding the DWI were particularly egregious or the facts otherwise indicate that you have an ongoing alcohol addiction.

Subsequent DWI convictions are more likely to result in restrictions to or suspension of your nursing license. If the Board finds that you are unable to practice nursing safely due to alcohol or drug abuse, they will suspend your license.

If you fail to disclose a DWI conviction, you will be subject to the same potential consequences that you would have if you had disclosed the violation, as well as additional penalties and a fine.

I am a nurse and was just charged with DWI in Louisiana. What should I do?

Pursuant to the rules of the Louisiana State Board of Nursing, you must disclose any DWI convictions to the Board. If you have just been arrested for DWI in Louisiana, it is important to take every step you can to present a strong defense against these charges.

The best way to protect your professional license is to fight the DWI charge against you. An experienced DWI defense lawyer in Louisiana is skilled at challenging the admission of evidence and may be able to get the charges against you dismissed.

If you have recently been arrested for DWI in Louisiana and fear losing your nursing license, contact the knowledgeable and seasoned attorneys at our firm. We would be happy to review your case and discuss any defenses that may be available to you.