The Indiana State Board of Nursing and DUI Convictions 

October 25, 2022

By Keffer Hirschauer LLP

Common Questions about the Indiana State Board of Nursing and DUI Convictions 

If you’re a nurse who has been charged with drunk driving in Indiana, you may find yourself facing penalties by the Indiana State Board of Nursing for a DUI. In situations like this, it’s vital to retain the counsel of a professional license defense attorney. They can help protect your livelihood by making the case that your conviction or complaint does not impact your ability to practice nursing in a competent manner. If successful, this could allow you to continue to practice nursing in Indiana and minimize the penalties you face from the Board of Nursing.  

The professional licensure team at Keffer Hirschauer LLP will work tirelessly to clear your name and protect your career. Given our exceptional litigation skills acquired through decades of work as trial lawyers, we understand what’s at stake and what it takes to successfully defend you in front of the Indiana State Board of Nursing for a DUI. If you’d like to speak with an attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation with our team. We are more than willing to help you understand your situation and discuss the best steps moving forward. 

What Constitutes a DUI in Indiana?  

In Indiana, a DUI charge is technically called, “operating a vehicle while intoxicated,” otherwise known as an OWI in Indiana. While this charge seems simple, it’s not as straightforward as one may guess. First, “operating a vehicle,” is not clear-cut. Indiana law defines the “operator” of a motor vehicle as someone who operates a motorized vehicle on land or water. However, a person doesn’t necessarily have to be operating the vehicle when they are stopped by police for a DUI. Instead, the police only need to find circumstantial evidence that you had operated the vehicle to successfully convict you of a DUI. So, for example, if you’re drunk and sitting in the vehicle in a lane of traffic, and the keys are in the ignition, you may be convicted for OWI even if you were asleep. 

When it comes to drunk driving in Indiana, your level of intoxication or BAC is also a key element of the offense: 

  • A BAC of .08 percent but less than .15 percent is a Class C misdemeanor 
  • A BAC of .15 percent or higher is a Class A misdemeanor 

It’s also important to note that refusing to take a blood alcohol concentration test will not necessarily save you from an OWI charge. Under Indiana’s implied consent law, if you refuse to take a BAC test, your Indiana driver’s license will automatically be suspended for one year. Plus, the State can seek a warrant of probable cause to obtain the BAC test anyway. 

DUI Conviction Elevation Indiana

Because a conviction depends in large part on the facts of each case, you will need to hire an Indiana DUI lawyer to protect your rights, and ideally, you should do this as soon as possible. 

What are the State Board of Nursing DUI Rules? 

Indiana nurses who have been convicted of drunk driving may be subject to an investigation by the Indiana State Board of Nursing for the DUI Conviction, as it is a violation of the Indiana Health Professionals Standards of Practice. As outlined in Indiana Code 25-1-9-4, prohibitions within the Indiana Health Professionals Standards of Practice include:   

  • Fraud/material deception in providing professional services or related activities  
  • Fraudulent billing practices  
  • Criminal convictions that impact a practitioner’s ability to continue to practice competently or one that is harmful to the public  
  • The violation of any federal or state statute, rule, or regulation regulating the profession in question  
  • Practicing nursing after becoming unfit to practice due to professional incompetence  
  • Failing to keep abreast of current professional theory or practice  
  • Abuse or dependency on alcohol or other drugs that endanger the public by impairing a practitioner’s ability to practice safely  
  • Lewd or immoral conduct in connection with the delivery of services to the public  
  • Diverting a legend drug  
  • Prescribing or administering any drug classified as a narcotic, addictive, or dangerous to a habitual user or addict  
  • Having sexual contact with a patient under the practitioner’s care  

Several prohibitions listed above are broadly written and can be interpreted in different ways. However, when the Indiana State Board of Nursing is notified of a DUI conviction, they will be required to make a personal appearance in front of the Indiana Board of Nursing. If the board finds that the DUI conviction has a direct bearing on their ability to practice in a competent manner, they can propose numerous types of discipline, based on the severity of the violation.  

Who Tells the Indiana State Board of Nursing about a DUI?  

Most violations of the Indiana Health Professionals Standards of Practice will come to the attention of the Board of Nursing or the Office of the Attorney General via self-reporting or through the Indiana Nursing License renewal process. Nurses in Indiana must renew their Indiana Nursing License every two years. When filling out the renewal application, they are required to answer six questions regarding potential violations of Indiana Health Professionals Standards of Practice.  

  1. Since your last renewal, has any health professional license, certificate, registration, or permit you hold or have held been disciplined, or are formal charges pending? 
  2. Since you last renewed, have you been denied a license, certificate, registration, or permit in any state? 
  3. Since you last renewed, and except for minor violations of traffic laws resulting in fines and arrests or convictions that have been expunged by a court, have you been arrested, entered into a diversion agreement, been convicted of, pled guilty to, or pled nolo contender to any offense, misdemeanor, or felony in any state? 
  4. Since you last renewed have you had a malpractice judgment against you or settled a malpractice action? 
  5. Have you been reprimanded, disciplined, demoted, or terminated in the scope of your practice or as another health care professional? 
  6. Since you last renewed have you been excluded from being a Medicare or Medicaid provider? 

Answering “yes,” to any of these questions will require the nurse to make a personal appearance in front of the Indiana Board of Nursing. Furthermore, the Board runs background checks during the license renewal process and those who have provided a false answer will be summoned to make an appearance as well. If the board finds that the violation has a direct bearing on their ability to practice in a competent manner, they can propose numerous types of discipline, based on the severity of the violation.   

When Should I Hire an Attorney? 

Regardless of your occupation, if you are arrested for drunk driving in Indiana, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible. However, if you are a nurse, you ideally should hire an attorney who has experience in both criminal and professional license defense attorney. Beyond limiting the criminal consequences of your offense, if you or the police must notify the Indiana State Board of Nursing of a DUI, a criminal defense attorney who also practices professional license defense can help you protect your career and continue practicing as a nurse in Indiana. If you would like to speak with an attorney today, call Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-648-9560 

What Potential Penalties Will I Face from the Indiana State Board of Nursing for a DUI? 

When a nurse is found to be in violation of the Indiana Health Professionals Standards of Practice, The Indiana Board of Nursing can impose a variety of penalties. Per Indiana Code 25-1-9-9, these penalties include:   

  • Permanent revocation of license  
  • Suspension/probation of license 
  • Required participation in the Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program (or ISNAP). 
  • Censure of the licensee  
  • Written reprimand of licensee  
  • Placement of the licensee on probation  
  • Assessment of a civil penalty of not more than $1,000 per violation  

What is the Indiana State Nurses Assistance Program (ISNAP)? 

The Indiana State Nurse Assistance Program also known as ISNAP, is a statewide substance abuse monitoring program for nurses funded by the Board of Nursing. ISNAP’s goal is to support Indiana nurses who struggle with substance abuse while still allowing them to work and advance in their careers. It provides nurses with valuable resources for recovery, while working to equip them with the skills necessary to continue nursing and remain abstinent.   

Many nurses engage the services of ISNAP through self-reporting, while some have entered the program via regulatory referral. Those who have been referred to ISNAP have often encountered a legal problem, such as diversion of medication or a DUI conviction, and must participate in the program to either regain or maintain their nursing license. When nurses are referred to ISNAP, they are often subject to a one to three-year-long Recovery Monitoring Agreement (or RMA). The RMA outlines the conditions of the nurse’s participation in ISNAP and could include mandatory drug and alcohol testing, counseling, or other treatment services. 

Facing Discipline from the Indiana State Board of Nursing for a DUI conviction?  

When it comes to the Indiana State Board of Nursing and a DUI conviction, nurses face harsh disciplinary action. The Board has the power to levy penalties that can have a profoundly negative impact on both a nurse’s financial and professional health. If you are a nurse who has been charged with driving under the influence in Indiana it is vital that you engage an experienced Indiana Board of Nursing attorney as early in the process as possible, ideally right after the alleged violation occurred.  

The skilled criminal defense attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP can help mitigate the consequences of your DUI, while our team of professional licensing attorneys will work tirelessly to protect your license and career. Our attorneys will ensure a fair process in front of the Indiana Board of Nursing, promote a vigorous investigation of the claims against you, and provide a robust argument in your defense. If you have questions about professional licenses or would simply like to speak with an attorney today, call us at 317-648-9560 or schedule a free, confidential consultation. 

 

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