DUIs and Professional Licenses

A DUI arrest in the state of California starts a DMV Administrative license suspension process and a Criminal Court process that involve either felony or misdemeanor charges. For most drivers facing their first DUI, this is bad enough. For some of these drivers, there is another part of the equation they need to consider: the effect a DUI can have on their professional license (such as real estate license, teaching or nursing license, commercial driver’s license and similar state issued licenses.)

Who Regulates “Professional” Licenses?

Local, State and Federal Agencies issue professional licenses, depending on the profession or skill involved. For example, an airplane pilot needs to obtain a license from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) while a real estate agent needs to obtain a license from their state’s real estate licensing authority (in California this is the Bureau of Real Estate). For stockbrokers or investment advisors, licenses are issued by both state and federal agencies.

What do these agencies do if there is a DUI?
Depending on the license involved, a state (or federal) licensing authority might not care if a license holder is charged or convicted with DUI. In other situations, the licensing authority might take administrative steps to monitor the license holder to ensure the DUI is an isolated incident and doesn’t indicate a bigger issue with the license holder. In extreme cases, licensing authorities will take action and suspend or revoke the professional license as a way to ensure the license holder’s situation does not effect their ability to render competent professional services under their license.
How do I find out if my professional license will be effected by a DUI?
Talk with an attorney who handles DUI and administrative license issues. The attorney will often go to the state (or federal) agency’s governing laws and look up how the agency handles DUIs.

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