How A DUI Can Affect Your Professional License?

Last Modified: January 22, 2024

A DUI can affect your professional license adversely. Contact our top rated DUI attorneys for a risk free consultation.

How Can a DUI Affect Your Professional License in California?

If you have a professional license in California, you can lose it with a DUI. State licensing boards do not take kindly to DUI charges or convictions and you should contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys as soon as possible to help you beat a charge.

If you are in the medical or legal professions, military, or any of the other 200 licensed occupations in California, a DUI can keep you from applying for or keeping the professional status you need for employment. You could face disqualification and your career may be in jeopardy.

What is a California professional license?

A professional license is a qualification, admission, certificate, permit or temporary permit, license or temporary license, registration or temporary registration, that is described in the California Business and Professional Codes (BPC) as a requirement for certain jobs in the state of California. These licenses are individual and non-transferable.

Misdemeanor vs. Felony effect on a professional license

A misdemeanor DUI charge typically does not affect your license. But in this electronic age, all illegal behaviors get identified and become available for licensing boards to find. The important thing for most boards is for you to be honest in reporting any illegal activity. Failing to do so brings into question the moral character that a board will want to question.

A felony charge or conviction of either a misdemeanor or felony is another story. While the responsibility to report is the same, there can be criminal penalties involved and more serious actions by state licensing boards. Each board treats DUI offenses a little differently but all are concerned with the honesty and morality of their members.

Can I get a professional work license with a DUI?

Applying for a professional work license with a misdemeanor will probably not be a problem. Anything more serious will depend on the particular Board’s rules. But there are key factors that can make charges and convictions more serious depending on the type of DUI and the license. A DUI for drunk driving would not automatically prevent someone from getting a license from the Board of Pharmacy, for example, but a DUI involving drugs would be a bigger problem to overcome.

Can I lose my Professional License after a DWI or DUI?

A conviction in California for a misdemeanor or felony will result in a notification to the appropriate licensing board or agency. This conviction will probably lead to disciplinary action by that board.

However, a licensing board may not deny your application nor take away your license based on a criminal conviction if the conviction is seven years old and it is not substantially related to the details of your job.

A serious felony can override these rules and can be the most important factor for denying or revoking a professional license.

How can a DUI affect my professional license?

Each profession has its own Board to deal with transgressions. The underlying principles for all are the seriousness of the crime, when it happened, the details involved, was it a misdemeanor or felony, the number of DUIs, are you on probation or parole, and in many cases, what happened after the DUI – have you completed any rehabilitation, etc. All the Boards will want to know if you reported the instance right after it happened or if you tried to hide it.

Here are some of the DUI effects on particular license groups:

DUI and medical license - Physician

A physician is held in high esteem by society and therefore should conduct him- or herself responsibly. A DUI can reflect a violation of that trust, can lead to civil and professional penalties, can jeopardize their residency or specialist programs, can lose their provisional eligibility for insurance programs like Medicare or MediCal, and if serious enough, can result in prison time and medical disqualification.

If there are no unusual circumstances involved, the Medical Board typically does not charge a violation for a single DUI conviction. But it would consider discipline for:

  • A DUI involving injuries or significant property damage – because this could be viewed as being related to the details of the medical profession
  • If the DUI represented alcohol abuse
  • If this were a second DUI – this would indicate “unprofessional conduct”
  • A felony DUI

Will a DUI affect my Nursing License?

If you are applying to be a nurse and have been convicted of a first-offense DUI, it is still possible for you to continue with your application because there are very few criminal convictions that will bar you from a nursing license.

But a DUI can affect your ability to take the NCLEX Exam because the test often asks about current or past convictions and board disciplinary actions.

Nursing issues with a DUI:

  • The Department of Justice reports any nurse arrested and fingerprinted to the BRN; while you don’t have to personally report your arrest, you do have to report a conviction within the timeframe specified by the Board.
  • Before you can get your nursing license, you will have to wait one year after serving all conditions required by the court from your DUI conviction.
  • You may have trouble getting a job with medical facilities funded by the government as they have regulations about hiring anyone with a DUI.

UI and Dentistry License

The Dental Board of California, like most other boards, is concerned about addiction or substance abuse. Multiple offenses will lead to investigation and possible discipline. A first-offender will probably not have a problem with the Board. But any conviction should be reported, and discipline will probably follow, usually through the processes of Accusations or Stipulated Agreements.

Dentistry issues with a DUI:

  • An Accusation is a formal notice that the Dental Board of California intends to revoke a dentist’s license. A DUI conviction will probably result in an Accusation against the dentist.
  • A Stipulated Agreement is a settlement, and if the parties cannot agree on a settlement, there will be a hearing conducted by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), where the result could be revocation of the dental license.

Can I get a Pharmacy License with a DUI?

Pharmacists, like physicians, are in constant contact with drugs and chemical substances including narcotics. The potential for abuse is present all the time. Given the job, the Pharmacy Board is very sensitive to any drug violation.

DUI and Pharmacy Licenses are individually judged. Like many other medical professions, a drunk driving charge is not an automatic bar to getting or keeping a license. The discipline depends on the severity of the DUI, multiple DUIs, and rehabilitation terms, and compliance.

DUI and Law Practicing in California

Like physicians, attorneys are held to a higher standard in society. A DUI misdemeanor is not necessarily a “crime of moral turpitude” and a reason to revoke a law license, but if convicted of any DUI, a lawyer must report the details of the arrest and conviction.

BPC Codes 6101 and 6102 direct the State Bar to be notified of any criminal charges and convictions. The notification leads to an immediate investigation. Discipline depends on the circumstances of the DUI.

DUI and the Military

The Military Services have strict guidelines and carry stronger disciplines for DUI than the civilian world. You will not be allowed to join the United States Armed Forces if you are convicted of any kind of DUI. And if already in the Military, sentences could involve pay deduction, demotion, prison, and/or dishonorable discharge.

Other professions

Real Estate

If you are applying for a real estate license, you should know that the California Department of Real Estate can consider criminal convictions, including a DUI, when evaluating applications. But the Board is more concerned about crimes that are “substantially related” to the job, such as fraud, bribery, or counterfeiting. Reporting your DUI is important because the Board also considers dishonesty a substantial issue.


The application for a liquor license asks questions relative to past behavior including whether the applicant has had a criminal conviction, has been fined, placed on probation, forfeited bail, or is being prosecuted for a law violation. A DUI conviction would make it very difficult to get a liquor license, especially if there were multiple arrests.


Engineers and contractors deal with the public all the time and are expected to be honest and responsible and care for the safety of their clients. The CSLB is concerned more about crimes of theft, fraud, or violence and these will no doubt lead to discipline.

If you have had a DUI within the past seven years, the Board may still accept your application if the DUI is not substantially related to the duties of your job.

What should I do to protect my license after a DUI?

If you get a DUI, you should contact the offices of the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys to help establish a defense to protect your professional license. You will be advised on your Board’s reporting requirements and disciplinary actions.

You will also learn what you can do to demonstrate good moral character and responsible decision-making involving community service, rehabilitation programs, etc.

How do I fight a DUI charge?

There are many ways to fight a DUI, and the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys know all of them and can help you challenge evidence including blood test results, erratic driving, and field sobriety tests. Your professional license is too important to fight these allegations by yourself. Contact a good attorney.

Contact the Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys to help with your license protection

We have helped many professionals with their application for licensing and we have helped many professionals keep their licenses in good standing. Contact us today for the information and assistance that will help protect your career.

Contact Attorney Daniel Perlman or Matthew Cohen today at the office of Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys, (310) 557-1700.

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