If you are a physician or other licensed health care professional, please take notice of what can happen to you if you are found to be driving a motor vehicle while intoxicated. This situation obviously has very unpleasant results regarding the criminal law but you must also be very aware that there can be a significant adverse impact on your medical license if you are convicted of this offense.
We recently represented a health care provider who was stopped by the police and found to be intoxicated. The consequences were that she had to pay a criminal lawyer to represent her in court. She had to plead guilty to a misdemeanor which required her to (1) Pay a fine, (2) Have a restricted license for about 6 months, (3) Pay to attend Drunk Driving School and (4) Pay to attend a sobriety class with a therapist. Additionally, the provider’s automobile insurance premium skyrocketed causing even more economic pain.
She then received a letter from The Department of Health, Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC). OPMC is notified when any health care provider is found to be guilty of a crime and this letter told her to contact OPMC as that office intended to charge the provider with misconduct unless a settlement could be reached. The provider then contacted our office. We reached a settlement with OPMC and I believe it was an excellent one for our client, but it was a mark against her nonetheless.
The general practice of OPMC in these types of cases is to issue a Censure and Reprimand to the provider with a fine of somewhere between $1,000.00 and $2,500.00. The amount of the fine can vary with the level of intoxication found at the time of arrest. Also, OPMC can demand that the provider attend a sobriety clinic for a lengthy period of time with random testing for substance abuse. Please note that these clinics can be very expensive and the licensee must pay the cost of the clinic.
Also, things can get very serious if the licensee has a number of drunk driving offenses. If that occurs, the consequences could be severe. In fact, in the right circumstances there could be a loss of license.
The moral of this story is a well known one: if you are going to drink, get a cab to take you home. You really do not need the financial and psychological trauma of going through the criminal law system and then dealing with OPMC.