The potential impact of a DWI on a medical license
When doctors face a driving while intoxicated charge, it may affect their medical license. Texas has strong laws to address DWI, including a one-year suspension of a driver’s license, jail time and a fine of $2,000 for a first offense.
In Texas, health care providers must report a DWI arrest or conviction to the Medical Board. This could result in an investigation, administrative hearing and disciplinary action.
Typically, a DWI on its own will not result in a disciplinary action. However, the Texas Medical Board may investigate the circumstances surrounding the DWI case to determine whether the physician has a substance abuse issue that may be endangering patients. In addition to evidence of addiction, the board will look for instances of unprofessional conduct and impairment while performing professional duties.
When a physician faces the Medical Board, he or she should provide a personal statement regarding the incident. It may be helpful to provide letters of support from colleagues, family and the community. Awards or evidence of community service and other examples of good personal character may also be appropriate.
If the Medical Board determines that there is a problem, it may resolve the issue through an agreement, or send the case to a hearing before an administrative law judge.
Even if a physician does not receive a DWI conviction, the Medical Board may decide to pursue disciplinary action if the agreement or hearing reveals that the physician has violated the Texas Occupations Code. This could take the form of a written reprimand, or restriction, suspension or revocation of the medical license. The physician could also face probation.
The physician may have to take regular chemical tests, complete a substance abuse treatment program and/or undergo a psychological evaluation while under probation. He or she will meet regularly with a probationer, who will report to the Medical Board.