Everyone knows an arrest and subsequent conviction for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI) can complicate your life. First, there is the inconvenience of being arrested and the expense of getting your car out of the impound lot. This is followed by criminal court appearances, where someone accused of DUI faces very real consequences, such as a fine, jail time, probation, and, depending on the circumstances, possibly even prison time if convicted. Additionally, there a driver's license consequences to a DUI conviction. Fighting a license revocation requires even more court appearances, and costs both time and money. In almost any situation, a DUI conviction can complicate one's work life. People who drive for a living must jump through a series of hoops in order to keep driving at work. Pilots may have to face special consequences as it relates to their ongoing ability to fly. Similarly, those with a medical license, medical certificate holders, and those with a permit to practice medicine may also face additional consequences if they are convicted of a DUI.
Potential Additional Consequences for Medical Professionals
In addition to the basic consequences of a DUI conviction as discussed above, medical professionals, whether they are license holders, certificate holders, or permit holders, may lose their license, certificate, or permit, or be restricted in the practice of medicine as a direct result of a DUI. The two situations which will most likely have an impact on one's ability to continue to practice medicine include felony DUIs and situations where the person is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety due to their use of alcohol or drugs.
Felony DUI Charges
Every criminal case is fact specific. The government will charge a DUI case as a felony when certain facts exist. Of course, the driver must be rendered less safe to drive by virtue of their use of drugs, alcohol, inhalants, or a combination of these. Additional facts necessary for a felony DUI charge include any one of the following.
- One or more of the passengers in the impaired driver's car is a person under the age of 14.
- The driver was involved in a car accident which resulted in serious bodily injury.
- This is the fourth DUI charge in 10 years for the allegedly impaired driver with three prior convictions.
Every DUI case has the potential for challenge, and, in some cases, a dismissal of the charges or a reduction of the charges. However, a felony DUI conviction, on the other hand, is a fairly objective criteria under which one may find their ability to practice in their chosen field of medicine at risk.
Unable to Practice with Reasonable Skill and Safety
The second criteria under which someone's ability to practice medicine may be at risk is under the standard of “unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety due to their drug or alcohol use.” This is a judgment call. The Georgia Composite Medical Board has the power to make this determination.
The Powers of the Georgia Composite Medical Board
The Georgia Composite Medical Board regulates the issuance of medical certificates, licenses, and permits associated with the practice of medicine. They have the power to investigate situations where they believe a person may be a convicted felon or otherwise is unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety. They may ask a certificate, license, or permit holder to submit to a medical examination in pursuit of their quest to determine if someone's drug or alcohol use is of concern. As it relates to certificate, license, and permit holders, the Georgia Composite Medical Board may do any of the following.
- Suspend of one's certificate, license, or permit.
- Revoke one's certificate, license, or permit.
- Detail terms and conditions which must be met in order to retain one's certificate, license, or permit.
- Place a certificate, license, or permit holder on probation.
- Limit the ability to practice.
- Require additional training in the certificate, license, or permit holder's area of practice.
- Issue a fine.
- Require a certificate, license, or permit holder perform medicine by the Board.
The Board is made up of 15 members, all Georgia residents, mostly doctors practicing for a number of years. It is important to remember that a DUI, standing alone, is not proof of alcohol or chemical dependence such that a person is not able to practice with reasonable skill and safety. However, a felony DUI conviction, standing alone, may be sufficient for the Board to take action.
Discipline the Board May Impose
The Georgia Composite Medical Board has many options when it comes to sanctions they may choose to impose on certificate, license, and permit holders. Of course, they have the option of completely denying an application for a medical certificate, license, or permit. However, they have other options as well, including the following.
- Ordering a period of probation for a finite period of time.
- Ordering a period of probation for an undetermined period of time.
- Issuing a public reprimand.
- Issuing a private reprimand.
- Suspending one's certificate, license, or permit.
- Revoking one's certificate, license, or permit.
- Imposing a fine of up to $3,000.
- Requiring additional medical education.
- Imposing minimum competency requirements.
- Requiring reimbursement for the cost of the investigation.
Facing DUI Charges and Concerned About Your Certificate, License, or Permit?
If you are concerned about your medical certificate, license, or permit, call us today at 404.816.4440. Our Georgia DUI lawyers will fight on your behalf, working to obtain the best possible outcome in your case. We know the stress that comes with criminal charges. We also know how to challenge DUI cases, from the basis of the stop to the quality of the test result. Our attorneys have extensive DUI experience and we are ready to fight for you. Call today.