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Will a DUI effect my professional license?

A driving under the influence (DUI) arrest can have a huge impact on your life. Depending on the details of the charges, the accused can face a hefty ticket and potential imprisonment. But this is just the start for those in a career that requires a professional license.

Why is it different if I have a professional license?

Although criminal penalties are not impacted by the presence of a professional license, the ramifications on the accused’s life are much more severe. This is because the charges can impact the license itself. In a recent example, police in Loveland, Colorado stopped a driver for an alleged traffic violation. During the stop, the officer claimed he smelled an overpowering odor of alcohol within the vehicle. The officer arrested the driver even though the driver stated he had not had any alcohol. Blood tests supported the driver’s claim: there was no alcohol, no substances within his system at the time of arrest.

Even though he was vindicated, the arrest has impacted his profession. This is because the driver is a private pilot, a profession which is highly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Every time he has to fill out a form for the FAA, he has to explain the arrest.

Professional pilots are not the only ones that face challenges for a DUI arrest. Those who hold a commercial license can face obstacles as well as teachers, doctors, nurses, dentists, and attorneys. Anyone that answers to a professional licensing board or organization can face scrutiny for allegations of drunk driving. This scrutiny can lead to a suspension or even revocation of that license if the arrest turns into a conviction.

In this example, the pilot filed a lawsuit against the city. The lawsuit states the department incentivizes officers to make DUI arrests. It claims this practice does not increase the safety of the streets, but instead leads to false arrests. The pilot’s story is one of more than a dozen who have faced a similar situation. The pilot’s aim is to push for change within the department. They are also seeking $1.5 million in damages, to help cover the economic impact of the arrest and also deter similar practices in the future.

Thankfully the driver in this example did not have to fight a conviction, just the arrest. As noted above the impact of a conviction is even more severe for those who hold a professional license.

What are my options if the state accuses me of a DUI?

Those with a professional license are wise to take allegations of drunk driving seriously. Do not accept a plea deal and hope you can make the matter go away before the licensing board finds out what is going on.

A conviction will lead to even more serious problems.

An attorney experienced in these matters can discuss the impact of a DUI conviction and help to build a defense. This could include reviewing the details of the stop to see if it was legal as well as the process used by the prosecution to gather evidence and build the case. If, at any point, your rights were violated the prosecution may not have a case. Even if they do, defenses may be available that can lead to a reduction or dismissal of charges.