What Happens when an Arizona Therapist or Social Worker Gets a DUI?

In Arizona, mental health therapists and social workers are licensed and governed by the Arizona Board of Behavioral Health Examiners. The Board sets the rules and requirements for a person to obtain and maintain a license. It’s not uncommon for former drug addicts and alcoholics who have DUIs and drug-related crimes on their records to seek to enter the mental health profession to help others who have problems with substance abuse.

Will a DUI on my Record Prevent Me from Getting a License?
Not necessarily. The Board conducts a thorough background check on each applicant, which includes a review of all felony convictions (i.e. aggravated DUI) and disciplinary actions. A “disciplinary action” is any “action taken by the Board against a licensee or applicant based on a finding that the licensee has engaged in unprofessional conduct and includes all sanctions of any kind, including refusing to grant or renew a license and suspending or revoking a license.” The application for licensure specifically asks if you have had a problem with substance abuse.

When the Board reviews your record, it will consider the following factors under Rule R4-6-208 to determine whether it should refuse to grant or renew your license:

  • Your age at the time of the felony conviction or prior disciplinary action;
  • The seriousness of the conviction or prior disciplinary action;
  • The factors underlying the conduct that led to the felony conviction or prior disciplinary action;
  • The length of time since the felony conviction or prior disciplinary action;
  • The relationship between the practice of the profession and the conduct giving rise to the felony conviction or prior disciplinary action;
  • Your efforts toward rehabilitation;
  • The assessments and recommendations of qualified professionals regarding your rehabilitative efforts;
  • Your cooperation with the Board’s background investigation regarding the felony conviction or prior disciplinary action; and
  • Other factors the Board or credentialing committee deems relevant.

If I Get a DUI After I’ve Received my License, do I have to Report it to the Board?
Yes. If you are charged with any crime (including DUI, extreme DUI, super extreme DUI, or aggravated DUI), you must report it to the Board and to your employer within 10 days.

What If a Client or Co-worker Reports me to the Board for Drunk Driving or being Drunk at Work?
When the Board receives a written complaint that alleges any unprofessional practice by a licensee or applicant for licensure, it follows the disciplinary process for unprofessional conduct under Rule R4-6-1001. You will be informed of the complaint and have 30 days to submit a written response. In determining what discipline to impose, if any, the Board will consider the following factors:

  • Prior disciplinary offenses;
  • Dishonest or self-serving motives;
  • Pattern of misconduct and multiple offenses;
  • Bad faith obstruction of the disciplinary proceeding by intentionally failing to comply with the Board’s rules or orders;
  • Submission of false evidence, false statements, or other deceptive practices during the investigative or disciplinary process;
  • Refusal to acknowledge the wrongful nature of your conduct; and
  • Vulnerability of the victim.

If you are a mental health professional who has been charged with a DUI, please contact an attorney for DUI at Oracle Law Group Office P.C. for assistance with your DUI case.

Photo credit: alancleaver_2000 from Flickr