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Arizona Lawyers Who Get DUIs

Every lawyer is not an expert in DUI law. If you are an Arizona lawyer who has been arrested for DUI, you may have several questions regarding your professional future.

The State Bar of Arizona has a process for lawyer discipline. The purpose of this is to protect the public and the integrity of the legal system, ensure the administration of justice, deter unethical conduct, rehabilitate the offending lawyer, and to deter unethical behavior by educating lawyers and the public.

Do I Have to Tell the State Bar of Arizona?
If you are arrested for DUI, you do not have to report it unless you are convicted. Under Supreme Court Rule 61, a lawyer who is convicted of a felony (i.e. Aggravated DUI) or a serious misdemeanor must inform the Arizona Supreme Court and the State Bar of the conviction within 20 days. A serious misdemeanor is any crime where a required element involves interference with the administration of justice, false swearing, misrepresentation, fraud, willful extortion, misappropriation, theft, or moral turpitude. A misdemeanor DUI conviction is a sign of moral turpitude.

You must submit a certified copy of the judgment, your name, bar number, address, the name of the court where the judgment was entered, the case number, and the date the judgment was entered.

A felony or serious misdemeanor conviction is grounds for an interim suspension of your license. If you are suspended, you may submit an appeal within 10 days.

Do I Have to Tell my Employer?
It depends. Your employment contract may require you to disclose a DUI arrest to your employer. You must inform your employer if you are convicted of DUI as it must be reported to the State Bar of Arizona and could result in professional discipline, including suspension.

What if I Have a Substance Abuse Problem?
The State Bar’s Member Assistance Program (MAP) exists to help Arizona lawyers, judges, and law students who have issues with stress, addiction, and mental illness. It is estimated that 40% of lawyers suffer from depression and burnout and at least 25% have an addiction.

You may voluntarily participate in MAP to receive confidential help. The program will help identify your problems, provide peer support, refer you to professional help, assist your rehabilitative efforts, answer questions, and provide information about resources. If you are a voluntary participant, your identity will be kept confidential. If you are ordered to participate in MAP as part of an Order of Diversion or Probation, your identity won’t be confidential because the State Bar must ensure that you’re complying with the order.

Who Else Might Turn Me In To the State Bar?
If another Arizona lawyer suspects that you have a substance abuse problem or knows that you are concealing a DUI conviction from the State Bar, he/she may have an obligation to make a report to the State Bar or risk facing discipline. Ethical Rule 8.3 states, “A lawyer who knows that another lawyer has committed a violation of the Rules of Professional Conduct that raises a substantial question as to that lawyer’s honesty, trustworthiness or fitness as a lawyer in other respects, shall inform the appropriate professional authority, except as otherwise provided in these Rules or by law.”

Your client may file a bar complaint against you if he/she suspects that your work is affected by a substance abuse problem.

What’s the State Bar’s Process regarding Complaints?
The State Bar has a detailed process regarding complaints and lawyer discipline. The State Bar reviews all the complaints it receives and determines whether it will conduct an investigation. If a full investigation occurs, you will be notified of it in writing and requested to submit a response within 20 days. Bar counsel will prepare the investigative report. Any recommendation besides a dismissal of the complaint will be submitted to the Attorney Discipline Probable Cause Committee. Bar counsel may recommend diversion, restitution, costs, stay, admonition, probation, or probable cause to file a formal complaint.

Formal proceedings begin with bar counsel filing a complaint. You will have 20 days to submit your answer. You and the bar counsel may enter into a consent agreement to settle the matter without a hearing. If no agreement is reached, there will be a disciplinary hearing before a panel. The hearing panel will issue a report that may include an order for dismissal of the charges, diversion, restitution, assessment of costs, admonition, probation, reprimand, suspension, or disbarment. Each party has 10 days to appeal this order.

I’m a Law Student. Do I Have to put my DUI on my Application for Admission?
Yes. When you apply for admission to the State Bar, you must complete a character and fitness application, which requires you to disclose all criminal charges, including expunged charges and charges on your sealed juvenile record. If you have been stopped by police for suspicion of DUI or any other crime, even if no charges are filed against you, you will be required to submit a copy of the police report with your character and fitness application. Ethical Rule 8.1 states that bar applicants may not make “a false statement of material fact” on their application for admission.

If you are arrested for DUI after you have submitted your character and fitness application, you must submit an amendment.

If you failed to disclose your entire criminal history on your application to law school, you must submit an amendment to your law school application.  The State Bar is suspicious of persons when there are inconsistent statements about his/her history and when the State’s background check reveals incidents that you failed to disclose. Having a DUI on your record will not prevent you from becoming a lawyer.

If you are an Arizona lawyer who has been arrested for DUI, please contact the Phoenix Arizona DUI lawyers at the DUI Law Office Oracle Law Group Office P.C.

Photo credit: tarsandsaction from Flickr