What Happens When a Pharmacist Gets a DUI in California?
A DUI is a crime in California and can risk your pharmacist license and career. After a DUI conviction, the California State Board of Pharmacy (“CSBP”) may call for revocation or suspension of your license.
When a pharmacist receives their license, they must submit to Live Scan fingerprinting. After a DUI arrest, a person will also be fingerprinted. The CSBP will be automatically notified of a person’s arrest due to this process. Therefore, they will become aware of your DUI soon after it happens.
If you have a pharmacist license and have been arrested for a DUI, it is important to retain an attorney knowledgeable in criminal law and professional licensing law. A Southern California attorney with this unique knowledge base can help you with the criminal proceedings, pharmacy board disclosure requirements, and potential CSBP disciplinary process.
DUI Consequences for California Pharmacists
The DUI consequences for California Pharmacists are potentially extensive. A pharmacist will have to address criminal charges and go to court, attend potential DMV hearings on whether they can keep their license, and attend potential board disciplinary proceedings. Each process can have a different result, lead to fines and fees, jail time, marks to your driving and criminal records, increased insurance and other expenses, and jeopardy to your professional license.
Could a DUI Destroy Your Career as a Pharmacist?
A DUI could significantly impact your career. For example, suppose a pharmacist is disciplined and subject to probation. In that case, they must all present and prospective employers of the decision or order granting probation along with the terms, conditions, and restrictions imposed on them within 30 days of the decision.
If a pharmacist decides to take a new job, they must inform the board within ten days of the details of their new employer. They must also provide contact information for the supervisor or person in charge. They can expect the board to follow up with the new employer and inquire about their job performance. Failure to do so can be a violation of probation and lead to you losing your license.
Many employers will not be comfortable with an employee that has this record, or that would create an opportunity for increased workplace scrutiny.
Reporting a DUI Criminal Conviction
As previously discussed, the CSPB will be notified by law enforcement at the time of your arrest. If this does not occur, you must inform them of your arrest. You will be obliged to report what happens and if you face any charges to the CSPB. This will likely be in the context of responding to a letter from them, which you can expect will happen pretty soon after you find yourself faced with DUI charges.
Will I Be Able to Get a Pharmacy License With a DUI?
Yes, it is possible, especially if the incident is at least seven years in your past (unless a felony is involved). However, the medical board may find certain criminal offenses and circumstances leading to a DUI too difficult to accept, such as more than one misdemeanor or incidents involving controlled substances. They may feel these items will make it impossible for you to carry out a licensee’s qualifications, functions, and duties.
Can I Avoid Discipline After a DUI Arrest?
It is possible to minimize discipline but unlikely you can altogether avoid the process. Even if charges are dismissed, the board will still learn about your DUI arrest. If it somehow is not notified by authorities, you must inform them or you can face serious consequences.
Many pharmacists can avoid serious discipline if the facts are in their favor. This includes charges being reduced or dismissed. Or if charged, the lack of no other criminal history, excessive BAC, and no aggravating circumstances all help. If a pharmacist is notified of an accusation or other action by the board, they may be able to settle with the right facts and legal counsel behind them.
Pharmacists Facing DUI Charges
Whether you are a pharmacist, pharmacy intern, or pharmacy technician: if you are faced with a DUI in the state of California, you should seek legal help. Most attorneys offer a free consultation to evaluate your case.
You should work with an attorney who has expertise in criminal and professional licensing law. A DUI defense strategy for a person with a professional license will need to be very different from a standard DUI case. An experienced attorney can offer you a confidential consultation and help you understand the potential outcomes of your case.
DUI Disciplinary Measures
As explained in the FAQs below, there are four categories of violations for which the board of pharmacy will typically seek to impose disciplinary measures. DUIs usually fall into Category 3 of this list. The punishment can be a minimum 90-day license suspension or stay of a license revocation with 3-5 years of probation, or, in some cases, a complete revocation of a license.
Pharmacists and DUI FAQs
1. Who Regulates Pharmacists in California?
The California State Board of Pharmacy regulates and disciplines pharmacists. The California Business and Professions Code and Code of Regulation gives them the authority to do so.
2. What Types of Criminal Convictions Trigger Board Discipline?
The board states that there are many potential grounds for discipline. This includes violations of the Pharmacy Law, an act involving moral turpitude, breaches of the board’s rules and regulations, and violations of other state or federal laws or ordinances.
For individuals such as pharmacists, intern pharmacists, and pharmacy technicians, there are four main categories of violations the board will discipline. Multiple violations can create a more complex disciplinary situation.
Category 1 includes minor violations such as record-keeping issues and inventory control problems. Disciplinary action can consist of 2 years of probation or, in some cases, revocation of a license.
Category 2 involves violations with a potential for serious harm or disregard for public health or safety. Disciplinary action can include 3-5 years of probation or, in some cases, revocation of a license.
Category 3 involves violations where the potential for harm is more significant and for violations involving knowingly or willfully violating laws or regulations pertaining to pharmacy, drugs, controlled substances, and most criminal convictions involving alcohol or drugs. Disciplinary action can include a minimum 90-day suspension, 3-5 years of probation, or in some cases, revocation of a license.
Category 4 involves the most serious violations of laws or regulations on a pharmacy, dangerous drugs, or controlled substances. If Category 4 discipline is imposed, a license will be revoked.
3. What Does “Substantially Related” Mean?
“Substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a licensee” is very broad terminology in the California business and professions code section. It permits the California board of pharmacy to discipline a licensee guilty of unprofessional conduct.
The California Code of Regulation states that for license denial, suspension, or revocation, “(A) crime or act shall be considered substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of a licensee or registrant if to a substantial degree it evidences present or potential unfitness of a licensee or registrant to perform the functions authorized by his license or registration in a manner consistent with the public health, safety, or welfare.”
Essentially, any crime or act can be considered “substantially related.” This allows the board can make disciplinary decisions on a case-by-case basis and evaluate circumstances surrounding a drunk driving conviction or other incidents.
4. Does Evidence of Rehabilitation Help?
Yes, it can help your case. The board explicitly states in published guidance that it will consider evidence of rehabilitation in deciding whether the minimum, maximum, or intermediate penalty will be imposed against a person holding a pharmacy license.
5. Can a Pharmacist Fight a Disciplinary Action?
Yes; a pharmacist can fight a disciplinary action. If the pharmacy board notifies a pharmacist of an accusation by which it seeks to discipline them, the pharmacist may be able to respond and settle charges or allegations. If this does not resolve the matter, a pharmacist has the right to have an administrative hearing before the board can impose any discipline.
6. Can I Become a Pharmacist if I Have a Criminal History?
It is possible but not guaranteed. The board of pharmacy may deny an applicant based on their criminal history, subject to some limitations. For example, if a person’s conviction is more than seven years old, or their conviction led to incarceration, and it has been more than seven years since their release, this cannot be the basis for a denial. But there are exceptions to this.
According to the pharmacy board, applicants with a criminal history are not automatically denied a license.
Does a DUI Fall Off Your Record in California?
The answer is “not exactly.” A DUI remains on your state driving record for up to 10 years. It stays on your criminal record potentially indefinitely. You may have other reporting obligations in the pharmacy profession that essentially extends this record for a longer time, notwithstanding it not being on your driver’s or criminal history. For example, you must disclose a DUI on all license applications and renewal requests.
How Long Does A DUI Stay on Your Background Check in California?
A DUI will remain on your driving record for ten years, beginning on the day of your arrest. There is not currently a way to have a DUI taken off your driving record early.
A DUI is on your criminal record permanently. The only way to get it removed is through the process of expungement.
How Does A DUI Affect Employment In California?
For certain professions, even one misdemeanor DUI can threaten a person’s job status. It can lead to a person losing their job or, in the case of a pharmacist, their license. If you are put on probation or your license is temporarily suspended, an employer may be unable or willing to keep you on staff.
A skilled California DUI criminal defense attorney may be able to get a charge dismissed or negotiate a plea bargain to a lesser charge. This may help lessen the consequences to your career.
How Long Do You Go to Jail for DUI in California?
The consequences of a DUI can be very serious. You could get as much as 6 months of jail time for a first-offense misdemeanor. For a second misdemeanor DUI conviction, you can get between 96 hours to 1 year in jail time. A third-time misdemeanor DUI conviction can lead to anywhere between 120 days to 1 year in jail. There is a one-month mandatory jail time requirement, and every county handles the minimum time differently.
If this is your fourth or subsequent offense within the last 10 years, a prosecutor will likely seek felony charges against you. You will face jail time of up to three years, assuming there were no injuries or deaths.
Between legal fees, fines, and court penalties, you could spend upwards of $10,000 on dealing with a DUI. Each subsequent DUI charge adds complexities to your case, increasing the costs of defending it.
Talk To A DUI Defense Attorney
As mentioned above, an experienced attorney can evaluate your case and discuss your options with you. A lawyer serving DUI clients will often offer a free no obligation consultation and everything discussed is protected by the attorney client relationship.
Schedule a free consultation with one of our expert California DUI attorneys here.
Interested in this topic or want to learn more about DUIs in California? Check out our recent article about whether or not a DUI charge could lead to termination of employment, and other related articles on our blog, which is updated regularly!