A DUI conviction is no picnic for anyone. Potential penalties in Pennsylvania can range from a fine to several years in jail along with a period of license suspension, depending on the specific offense and other factors. Anyone convicted of a DUI can also expect to see insurance premiums skyrocket.
Licensed professionals, however, may experience even more serious repercussions than most. In addition to the legal penalties that the court will impose, a licensed professional can face severe career-stunting consequences.
If you are a licensed professional, your ability to practice your job depends on having a valid license from your professional board. Whether you are just beginning your career studies or have spent decades in practice, a DUI conviction presents a tough roadblock.
Many professional boards require you to notify them of any convictions; license renewal or registration applications generally contain questions about convictions as well. Failing to notify or lying about a conviction can substantially increase the harshness of any penalties.
Once the board learns of your conviction, consequences can range from formal discipline to complete revocation of your license. The nature of the penalty will depend on your profession's regulations as well as the severity of the DUI charges you were convicted of.
Medical professionals, including physicians, nurses, dentists and EMTs, must report convictions to their respective boards. Doctors undergo a hearing to determine whether they are fit to practice medicine. A finding of unfitness can result in losing your license. A conviction can also affect malpractice insurance premiums.
In Pennsylvania, the Board of Dentistry looks at DUI cases individually to decide whether a particular dentist should be disciplined. Pharmacists also have their cases reviewed individually. An EMT can lose his or her license; if convicted of DUI in the stages of applying for certification, the Department of Health may reject the application.
Commercial drivers have both a lower BAC threshold for a DUI charge and harsher license suspension terms. In some cases, repeat DUI offenders can lose their Commercial Driver's License and never get it back.
Other professionals, such as teachers, police officers and fire fighters, will deal with their specific department or system with its own rules for handling DUI convictions. Consequences may include loss of license or certification, job loss, suspension or discipline.
A plea equals a conviction
Not everyone is aware that, for professional licensing purposes, pleading guilty has the same effect as getting convicted at trial. While prosecutors may pressure you to agree to plead guilty in order to save everyone time and hassle, giving in can be a very bad decision. When you face potentially lifelong consequences, you need an experienced attorney at your side to protect your rights.