How a DWI Can Affect Your Professional Licensing

You probably know that driving while impaired (DWI) in North Carolina can come with severe consequences. Depending on the seriousness of the offense, a DWI conviction can result in prison time, steep fines, and suspension of your driver’s license for one year or more. 

You might not realize, however, that the consequences of a DWI can extend far beyond these penalties. In fact, a DWI conviction can have a negative impact on your employment. Specifically, we will discuss how a DWI can affect your professional licensing. 

What Is a DWI in North Carolina?

First, it is important to understand what constitutes a DWI in North Carolina. Generally, if your blood alcohol content (BAC) is 0.08% or more while driving, you will face a DWI charge. DWIs are also routinely issued for drivers with drugs or other controlled substances in their system. The exact consequences of a DWI will vary depending on the driver’s age, if they have any prior DWIs, and the amount of alcohol or substance in their system. 

How Can a DWI Affect Your Professional Licensing?

Some jobs require professional licensing before a person can practice or hold such a position. These jobs include doctors, nurses, lawyers, and other jobs that might not immediately come to mind, such as architects and even geologists. If any of the professional licensing boards governing those professions deems a person is unfit to hold a license, they can suspend or revoke the license. In some cases, a DWI conviction is enough for such a suspension or revocation. 

Each professional licensing board in the state will make its own decision and hand-down its own punishment based on its assessment of the offense. For example:

  • The North Carolina Medical Board can suspend or revoke a doctor’s license to practice medicine for drunkenness or excessive use of alcohol or drugs. One does not even need a DWI conviction to meet this standard.
  • The North Carolina Board of Nursing can suspend or revoke a nurse’s license if the nurse is convicted of a crime that shows they are unfit or incompetent to practice. The board has a lot of discretion to determine what it means to be “unfit” or “incompetent,” and a DWI conviction can fall into that category.
  • The North Carolina State Bar can suspend or revoke a lawyer’s license to practice law for violating the Professional Rules of Conduct, which includes committing a crime that reflects adversely on a lawyer’s “fitness as a lawyer.”

How Our Attorneys Can Help You

If you are a lawyer, doctor, accountant, dental hygienist, barber, or a member of any number of professions that require its members to hold professional licenses, and you have been charged with or convicted of a DWI, reach out to Cotten Law. Jeremy has represented tens of thousands of clients and has hundreds of stellar reviews online. Our offices serve clients in central North Carolina including Wake, Johnston, Harnett, Orange, Sampson, Lee, and Chatham Counties. 

Give our office a call or click over to our main page to chat live with an assistant 24 hours a day.