If you have pled guilty to any type of misdemeanor or felony charge regarding drunk driving, the Office of Professional Discipline is almost certainly going to discipline you in some manner because you have been found guilty of a crime. The fact that you now have a criminal conviction means that you are, by definition, guilty of unprofessional conduct, and the only matter up for discussion is the type of discipline that you will have to endure. But there are different levels of discipline, and it is important that you and your attorney try to obtain an outcome that is the least harmful to your career.
Unquestionably, the most favorable way to resolve a matter of this nature is by having the Office of Professional Discipline agree to settle the case via a “Violations Committee Settlement.” This is a resolution that is reserved for “…misconduct of a minor or technical nature.” Even this resolution is disciplinary in nature, but the very positive thing about it is that the settlement is not posted on the Department’s website and is not reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank. Therefore, if anyone looks up your name to see if there are any disciplinary issues against you, they will find a blank page. Please note that if you are asked on an application of any type if you have ever been disciplined, you will have to answer “yes,” but the fact that it is not public is of great benefit to you. Please note that there is usually a small fine, $500.00 perhaps, as part of the settlement, but that is insignificant in the long run.
In order to end the drunk driving issue with the Office of Professional Discipline in this manner, there are a few things that figure into the equation, and some of those items are as follows:
- Your lawyer has to know that such an outcome is in fact available.
- If there was any property damage or physical injury involved in the matter.
- What was your blood alcohol level when you were arrested?
- Were other charges involved, such as “leaving the scene of an accident” or “resisting arrest?”
Taking all of these circumstances into consideration, it is possible to end the matter in a way that is most beneficial to you, given the alternatives.
I do recommend telling the OPD investigator right from the start that you are interested in this type of resolution. By doing that, you get the possibility of the Violations Committee Settlement in everyone’s mind, upfront. This way of attacking the problem gives the best opportunity for the best result.
When dealing with the Office of Professional Discipline, you have to know the rules and what is available so that you give yourself a chance to minimize damage to yourself and your career.