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The ripple effect of DUI: Legal implications for Oklahoma physicians

On Behalf of | Feb 28, 2024 | DUI

The ramifications of a driving under the influence (DUI) arrest can extend beyond the immediate legal consequences. For medical professionals in Oklahoma, such an event may carry significant professional repercussions. The Oklahoma Medical Board holds physicians to high ethical and professional standards. An arrest for DUI brings these standards into question and can trigger a review by the Board.

When can the Oklahoma Medical Board investigate?

The Oklahoma Medical Board may consider a DUI arrest a breach of the standard of conduct expected of physicians. Substance abuse issues, implied by a DUI, can raise concerns about a physician’s fitness to practice medicine. As such, it is often reasonable for the Board to investigate a physician’s fitness if accused of criminal wrongdoing — such as drunk driving.

This is not uncommon. In a recent example, the Board has announced it will hold a hearing to determine the fitness of a local physician after a drunk driving arrest. Depending on the findings, the Board could choose to issue sanctions including the suspension or revocation of the physician’s medical license. The Board generally takes various factors into account when making its determination. These can include the severity of the incident, the physician’s history with the Board, and any prior disciplinary actions.

What are my options if accused of a DUI?

In Oklahoma, a physician’s arrest for drunk driving can place their medical license at risk. While the Oklahoma Medical Board does not automatically revoke or suspend licenses for DUI arrests, it has the authority to impose such sanctions if it finds the physician’s behavior incompatible with the standards of the medical profession.

Physicians facing such circumstances are wise to take the matter seriously. Allegations of drunk driving can lead to more than just a fine. For physicians and others holding professional licenses, it can be the end of a career.