A drunk driving OWI/DUI conviction will have a significant impact on everyone’s life, but some may be more than others. The medical profession including nurses are no exception.

Stethoscope in nursing school

The State of Michigan has a duty to ensure that our medical professionals are fit for service as they are entrusted with our lives. Medical and nursing schools have similar obligations to ensure their students have good moral character and fitness for the profession. Nurses and other medical professionals should be careful if they have been accused of a DUI/OWI to know ALL of the consequences of a conviction.

Calls concerning an OWI’s impact on certain school and career plans have become more and more frequent. One of the most common inquiries centers on an OWI’s impact on nursing school and nurse licensing. To someone applying to, attending, or graduating nursing school, the thought of legal trouble can be overwhelming.

In addition, what happens to the chances of being licensed with an OWI on your record? The regulations from school to school may vary, but let’s try understand the landscape.

Does a DUI Affect My Nursing School Application?

I spoke with representatives from various universities concerning their policy on OWI offenses and applications. Generally speaking, a misdemeanor OWI on your record WILL NOT automatically exclude you from consideration. Most universities have a policy to view each application as an individual. They often have students apply that have misdemeanor OWI’s on their record and have been accepted.

They only want honesty. Be upfront about what you were convicted of, if you are asked. You should show that you have owned up to your mistake, and you have made every effort to ensure that it never happens again. Lying on these applications is the worst mistake you can make. This is not to say that you will be accepted automatically, regardless of what is on your record.

More realistically, you should expect that schools will view your record with an open mind. All people make mistakes. Put your best foot forward and show them that you have many additional qualities that make you a qualified candidate for their school.

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What If I’m Already Enrolled in Nursing School?

If you are already in nursing school and have received an OWI, many of the schools instruct the students to see the nursing school’s code of conduct. While there may not be a specific OWI section, many schools require that you have access to reliable transportation for clinicals.

This may be difficult if you have received certain restrictions on your license, more so if it is your second offense. In addition, any alcohol testing required by the court may interfere with class/clinical schedules.

State of Michigan Health Care Professional Nurse Licensing

Further, I was able to speak with a representative from the State of Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Specifically, I spoke with a person directly involved with State Nursing Licensing. When applying for your nursing license, you will be asked to fill out a large packet of information. One of these sections will pertain to your record.

He explained that you should disclose the types of offenses listed on the application, and BE HONEST. Dishonesty is a much more serious issue. In the space that is provided on the application, you should describe the circumstances surrounding your offenses. Show the reader of the application that your offenses are not an accurate depiction of your normal behavior.

Once the application is finished, it is sent off to be evaluated. Those individuals who have an offense history will have their application read by a senior application specialist. This individual will evaluate your application in light of the offenses listed. Once again, the nursing representative stressed that no one is automatically excluded from consideration. Many factors go into the license process.

The Takeaway

Once more, and this cannot be emphasized enough, BE HONEST. There are plenty of nurses licensed each year who have had misdemeanor OWI on their record. Own your mistake, and correct it.

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As always, it is important to receive the best outcome in any OWI case. Many factors can lead to the discussion of a plea, the outright dismissal of the case, or a not guilty verdict. It is important to have a legal representative who understands the significance that an OWI can have on someone’s life.