Can someone with a DWI conviction get into a nursing program?

By | 2021-05-07T09:24:50-04:00 July 31st, 2015|3 Comments

Dear Nancy,
I have a friend who is thinking of going into a nursing program to become an RN. Five years ago he got a DWI. No one was injured, nor was there any property damage. I have not been able to get any definite information on the likelihood of him getting into a RN program or being able to get a license or a job as an RN.


Dear Seth,

Past criminal convictions are always a concern for someone applying to a nursing education program. This has been discussed in several other responses in this column. You may want to review one or two for additional information. Your friend’s best approach is to consult with a nurse attorney or other attorney who represents nurses in licensure matters. The attorney can advise your friend about the state nurse practice act and its rules and guidelines about this issue.

Your friend can do some work on his own by checking the nursing school catalogues in which he is interested. They often provide information about criminal background checks and the likelihood of those with criminal backgrounds to being admitted to the program and participating in clinical rotations.

Generally speaking, a felony conviction has far more serious ramifications for a student applicant than does a misdemeanor conviction. Also, the type of felony (e.g., sexual abuse, aggravated battery) may raise additional obstacles than a less serious felony. However, your friend needs to obtain specific advice on these issues so he can make an informed decision about his future.

Regards, Nancy


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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.


  1. Avatar
    Stefanie ures December 2, 2016 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    Good afternoon,
    My name is stefanie. I currently finished the pre requisite course for nursing school. However, I was picked up for a DUI. I am working with lawyers currently trying to reduce charge to wet wet and reckless which is still a misdemeanor and will show up on my background check. Do you know if it is still possible for me to be accepted into nursing school if I am charged with first offense wet and reckless? Have you seen or heard of people with a recent DUI or Wet and reckless be accepted into nursing school?

    I am considering taking my case to trial and fighting it completely.

    Any expert advice would help.
    Thank you for your time,
    Stefanie ures

    • Avatar
      jonathan January 20, 2017 at 9:31 pm - Reply

      I’m going through the same, any word on your situation yet?

  2. Avatar
    Sarah December 20, 2016 at 1:31 am - Reply

    hi stefanie,
    I’m currently going thru the same dilemma. my charge was reduced to wet and reckless but not sure if schools will accept me before program entry. plz keep me posted if you have any info

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