DUI charges can be frustrating for anyone, but those who practice medicine could face serious penalties for drunk or impaired driving. Here's what you should know.
West Virginia DUI Basics
West Virginia has some of the strictest DUI laws in the country. Even first offenders face the possibility of fines and jail time. While many DUI cases appear open and shut, there are many steps the prosecution has to take to make a conviction.
One of the most important steps in a DUI case is determining whether it is an aggravated or non-aggravated charge.
- Aggravated DUI: blood alcohol content is at or above .15%
- Non-aggravated DUI: blood alcohol content is below .15%
Aggravated DUIs are difficult to defend against, as the charge depends on solid evidence of your BAC at the time of arrest. These charges also carry the possible penalty of a $1,000 fine and at least 24 hours in jail. Additionally, those convicted of an aggravated DUI could lose their license or have an ignition interlock system installed for at least 315 days.
No DUI is hopeless, but it may feel that way if you have a lot to lose. For those in the medical field, a DUI can impact your future.
Medical professionals are under immense pressure to uphold ethics as they are often responsible for saving lives and caring for people in a crisis. Because of this, doctors, nurses, and other hospital staff have a responsibility to uphold the law and help the sick.
The difference between healthcare and other professions is that state and federal bodies enforce the commitment to excellence. The Joint Commission and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are the most powerful regulatory bodies in the medical field. They audit hospitals around the country and investigate malpractice claims or violations.
On a more local scale, the state Medical Board holds healthcare professionals accountable for their actions. If an individual causes harm or violates the law, the Medical Board will oversee their case on a professional level.
Hospitals may be put in a difficult position if a member of their staff breaks the rules, and there are consequences for everyone if the issue reaches CMS or the Joint Commission. For this reason, doctors are held to a higher standard and may face harsher consequences for breaking the rules.
If you are a doctor and face DUI charges, it's best to inform the Medical Board as soon as possible. Once the Board receives your report, they will investigate you and the DUI charges.
A representative will interview you about the charges and ask questions about the circumstances and where your legal case stands. You must answer all of their questions honestly – they are there to gather the evidence, and if you lie, it only complicates the investigation.
In many cases, those charged with a first-time DUI offense are allowed to keep their medical license. On the other hand, those who are repeat offenders or harm another person due to their actions could lose their license and their ability to practice medicine.
Do West Virginia DUI Charges Count In Other States?
If you decide to leave your position at the hospital or be terminated, it may seem best to move on. DUI convictions don't carry over from state to state except when you get another charge.
For example, if you are convicted of drunk driving in West Virginia and move to California, your DUI will be on your record, but I won't be shared with law enforcement. However, if you are charged with a DUI in California, you will be a repeat offender and face more severe penalties.
For licensed medical practitioners, DUIs reported to the Medical Board are kept in their records regardless of your residence. While the Board may not share this information with future employers, DUIs are public information that any employer can access.
Protect Your Profession
If you are a medical professional convicted of a DUI in West Virginia, contact our DUI lawyer immediately. Founding Attorney Harley Wagner is the state's premier DUI attorney and has represented over 3,000 throughout his 22-year career.
Our team is always available to answer your questions and address any concerns. Contact The Wagner Law Firm today.