Getting a Driving Under the Influence (DUI) charge can be devastating under the best of circumstances. However, when one's ability to pursue their dream job or earn a good living is also in jeopardy, the situation can feel even more dire. While this blog post seeks to address some of the basic questions that arise when someone is concerned about a DUI and their medical license, there is absolutely no substitute for a professional legal consultation. Because each DUI case is unique, this blog post can only address the issue in the broadest of broad strokes. If you are looking for a free consultation regarding how a DUI may impact your future career in the medical field, or if you are wondering if you can retain your medical license after a DUI charge, contact your Roswell DUI Attorney to discuss your case in detail.
The Importance and Power of the Georgia Composite Medical Board
In the state of Georgia, medical license holders, certificate holders, and those with a permit to practice medicine are regulated by the Georgia Composite Medical Board. This Board is not only responsible for regulation of those holding such licenses, certificates, and permits, it also regulates those applying for a license, certificate, or permit to practice medicine. The Board has 15 members, most of whom are practicing physicians with a number of years of experience.
The Board has the ability to issue, reinstate, and deny a medical license, certificate, or permit to someone otherwise qualified for the same. They can also
- Revoke a license, permit, or certificate;
- Suspend a license, permit, or certificate;
- Issue terms and conditions for the retention of a license, permit, or certificate;
- Place the holder of a license, permit, or certificate on probation;
- Limit the practice of a license, permit, or certificate holder;
- Require additional medical training for a license, permit, or certificate holder;
- Impose a fine on a license, permit, or certificate holder;
- Require medical community service from a license, permit, or certificate holder; or
- Impose any other sanction the Board deems necessary and appropriate.
When the Georgia Composite Medical Board May Step In
Obviously, it is not in the best interests of the general public for people with untreated drug and alcohol addictions to continue to practice medicine. Indeed, the very purpose of regulating the medical profession is, in part, to keep unsuspecting patients safe. However, a DUI, in and of itself, is not proof positive of a chemical dependency issue. It may just reflect an error in judgment or a series of unanticipated circumstances that led to an unplanned result. As such, not every DUI will automatically trigger the involvement of the Georgia Composite Medical Board. However, they may become involved in some circumstances.
A conviction for a felony DUI, for example, will most likely trigger the involvement of the Georgia Composite Medical Board. According to their charge, they will investigate when there is a guilty plea, a finding of guilt, a guilty verdict, or a plea of nolo contendre, regardless of whether the adjudication of guilt or sentence is entered or not in any felony case. Most DUI cases are not felonies, however. A felony charge may come from the following.
- A fourth DUI conviction within a ten-year period.
- A car accident with serious bodily injury where the driver meets the other requirements for a DUI.
- A DUI where there is a child in the car under the age of 14.
Another reason one may face consequences involving a medical license, permit, or certificate is where one is unable to practice “with reasonable skill and safety to patients” due to their use of drugs or alcohol. In a situation where the Board is investigating whether one meets the standard of being unable to practice with reasonable skill and safety to patients, they may ask an individual to submit to a physical or mental exam. The Board will designate a particular physician to do the exam. The results of the exam are deemed admissible for use in a hearing before the Board, without regard to the typical patient-client privilege.
Disciplinary Action the Georgia Composite Medical Board May Take
When the Board feels discipline is needed, they have several different options. There is no “one size fits all” remedy. Rather, the Board proceeds in the manner they feel is best, taking into consideration all the facts and circumstances of an individual case. They may take any of the following steps.
- Deny an application for a medical license, permit, or certificate.
- Enforce a probationary period for a finite period of time with specific terms and conditions of the probation.
- Enforce a probationary period for an unspecified period of time with specific terms and conditions of probation.
- Issue a private reprimand.
- Issue a public reprimand.
- Suspend the holder's license, permit, or certificate.
- Revoke the person's license, permit, or certificate.
- Impose up to a $3,000 fine.
- Impose reimbursement costs.
- Impose a minimum competency examination prior to returning to holding a license, permit, or certificate.
- Impose additional medical education as approved by the Board.
The Board has the option of making an adverse finding while withholding imposition of judgment and penalty. They may also choose to impose judgment but suspend penalty on the condition the license, permit, or certificate holder complete probation successfully.
A license, permit, or certificate holder may request reinstatement after demonstrating their ability to begin or resume their practice with the requisite skill and safety.
If You Ae A Medical Professional Facing DUI Charges
If you are a medical professional facing DUI charges, you need the assistance of an attorney well versed in DUI laws. Our attorneys focus their practice exclusively on DUI cases. Our Roswell DUI attorneys have the experience you need. We have had success challenging stops of cars, suppressing test results, and litigating DUI cases from many angles. Contact us today for a free consultation at 404.816.4440.