As with other criminal offenses, a DUI implicates multiple prongs of the unprofessional conduct disciplinary scheme Washington.

RCW 18.130.180(1) relates to “moral turpitude, dishonesty, or corruption relating to the practice of one’s profession” and specifically addresses criminal conduct. RCW 18.130.180(17) also makes a conviction of any gross misdemeanor or felony relating to the practice of one’s profession a basis for professional misconduct. Clearly, not all criminal conduct relates to the practice of one’s profession, however, that phrase has been interpreted very broadly.

In the face of uncertainty about whether your criminal matter “relates to” your profession, it may be tempting to decide that it does not and therefore not disclose it to the Department. However, the most prudent course of conduct might actually be to disclose the situation to the Department, even at the risk of triggering disciplinary action. RCW 18.130.180(2) exposes you to a separate basis for disciplinary action merely for failing to disclose a material fact in obtaining or reinstating a license. There are also WACs for each profession that address self-reporting requirements.

Another question you have might be whether to disclose your DUI even if you have not been convicted yet or if the case has been resolved without a conviction. General reporting obligations for medical professionals are codified in WAC 246-16. WAC 246-16-210 defines a conviction for purposes of mandatory reporting to mean that “a court has decided a person is guilty of any gross misdemeanor or felony. It includes any guilty or no contest plea and all decisions with a deferred or suspended sentence.” Many professions also have specific WAC requirements for their field. For example, reporting requirements for nurses to the commission are provided in WAC 246-840-730.
WAC 246-840-730(1)(b)(i) requires nurses to report any conviction, whether or not the crime relates to the practice of nursing.

You may have an obligation to report even if you are not convicted. For example, RCW 18.130.180(23) makes any current misuse of alcohol or drugs a basis for disciplinary action. Depending on the facts of your case, the charge of DUI and the underlying incident alone may have to be reported, regardless of what happens to your criminal case.

The overlap between professional disciplinary action and criminal offenses is complicated and requires familiarity with professional discipline law and criminal defense. The proper approach will vary by profession under the WAC and RCW and depends on the facts of your criminal case. You should consult an attorney familiar licensure defense to assist you.

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