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Could my DWI history block me from becoming a nurse?

Dear Nancy,

I am a BSN graduate who is going to take the N-CLEX soon. I was contacted by the board of nursing about past DWIs. They are requesting information about the treatment centers I was at in the past. My last DWI occurred in 2008. I have been sober ever since. Do you know what type of information could block me from becoming a nurse or can how far back they can look into my history?


Dear Claudia,

A state board of nursing’s responsibility is to administer and enforce the state nurse practice act and rules in order to ensure licensed nurses provide safe and competent nursing care to its citizens. When reviewing an application for licensure, any and all information placed on the application is subject to review by the board.  Your past DWIs and treatment for whatever chemical substance used while driving under its influence is therefore information the board must evaluate in terms of your current ability to practice as a safe and competent practitioner.

You can determine what types of convictions may result in a denial of your application for licensure by checking the nurse practice act and its rules. You also can seek this information from a nurse attorney or other attorney who represents healthcare professionals in licensure and disciplinary matters.

It is in your best interest to supply any and all of the information the board is asking for. Having successfully completed treatment programs and being clean and sober since 2008 is an accomplishment that most probably would be looked upon favorably by the board.

The attorney with whom you consult also may suggest you provide the board with any additional information about your treatments and your sobriety. As examples, letters from your current physician, current therapist if you are seeing one and current AA or other group meetings might be useful. Reference letters from nursing faculty attesting to your conduct and sobriety while in the nursing program and from any professionals who treated you in the past who can speak to your current state of sobriety might be helpful to you as the board deliberates your particular application.

Regards, Nancy

By | 2015-10-06T19:03:50-04:00 April 13th, 2015|Categories: Blogs, Nursing careers and jobs|0 Comments

About the Author:

Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN
Our legal information columnist Nancy J. Brent, MS, JD, RN, received her Juris Doctor from Loyola University Chicago School of Law and concentrates her solo law practice in health law and legal representation, consultation and education for healthcare professionals, school of nursing faculty and healthcare delivery facilities. Brent has conducted many seminars on legal issues in nursing and healthcare delivery across the country and has published extensively in the area of law and nursing practice. She brings more than 30 years of experience to her role of legal information columnist. Her posts are designed for educational purposes only and are not to be taken as specific legal or other advice. Individuals who need advice on a specific incident or work situation should contact a nurse attorney or attorney in their state. Visit The American Association of Nurse Attorneys website to search its attorney referral database by state.

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