Nurse With a StethoscopeDWI is aggressively prosecuted in North Carolina—and you face harsh punishments if convicted. Unfortunately, a conviction could also jeopardize your nursing license. However, you may be able to avoid the risk of losing your professional license by hiring an experienced DWI attorney who will aggressively defend you so that the charges are dropped or reduced to a less severe offense through a plea bargain.

What Is a DWI in North Carolina?

It is essential to understand when you can be charged with DWI in our state. You could be arrested for committing DWI in these situations:

  • You are driving while under the influence of an impairing substance.
  • You are driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 percent or higher,
  • You are driving with any amount of a controlled substance, such as marijuana or cocaine, in your system.

If you are convicted, the court will consider a number of mitigating and aggravating factors in deciding your punishment. You could be sentenced to 24 hours to 24 months in jail and fined up to $4,000. In addition, your driver’s license could be suspended for one year for a first-offense DWI.

Can a Nursing License Be Suspended or Revoked for a DWI?

You also face long-term consequences long after you complete your sentence if you are convicted of DWI. One ramification is that your nursing license may be jeopardized.

The North Carolina Board of Nursing (NCBN) regulates nurses. It has the power to suspend or revoke a nurse’s professional license if there is a violation of the Nursing Practice Act or rules. They can take these actions for infractions committed while you are on or off the job.

There are many reasons that your nursing license could be suspended or revoked for a DWI. They include the following:

  • You pled guilty to or were convicted of a crime that shows you are unfit or incompetent as a nurse.
  • You pled guilty to or were convicted of an offense that shows you defrauded the public.
  • You took actions that could endanger public health.
  • You failed to report or expunge a prior felony or misdemeanor DWI or committed a felony DWI while you were a nurse or failed to report it.

What Happens if There Is a Complaint Against a Nursing License Due to a DWI?

If you report that you were convicted of DWI or a complaint is filed against you, the NCBN legal staff and investigators would determine if there are allegations of a violation of the laws and rules governing nurses in North Carolina that justify opening an investigation. If they determine that an investigation should be conducted, they would assign the complaint to an investigator.

You would be notified of the investigation by the NCBN in writing and may be contacted by telephone as well. It is essential to respond to their notification because failure to do so will not stop the investigation and could lead to additional disciplinary actions.

When communicating with the NCBN, you need to remain respectful and professional. They most likely will offer to interview you. You do not want to be untruthful or argumentative if you are interviewed.

You have a right to be represented by an attorney. Given the risk you face of losing your license, it is important to retain a lawyer to defend you in the DWI court proceedings and any investigation by the NCBN.

After the investigation is completed, the Board of Nursing would decide how to proceed. Actions they could take include the following:

  • Take no action against you
  • Send you a letter of concern without any disciplinary actions
  • Offer you a non-disciplinary consent order that would place some restrictions on your nursing practice
  • Offer you a published consent order, which includes a reprimand, monitoring, probation, or license suspension or revocation


Howard W. Long, II
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Charlotte Criminal Defense and DWI Lawyer