HOW SHOULD I ANSWER THAT?
It’s license renewal time for Missouri Registered Nurses. If you have had an unfortunate run in with the law for driving under the influence or any offense other than a minor traffic violation since the last time you renewed, you are probably wondering how to answer some of the questions on the renewal application. You may also be wondering what happens if I check “yes” to any of the questions on the application.
Below are some frequently asked questions regarding the 5th and 6th question on the renewal application after a DUI or other violation, excluding traffic violations. If you are not sure if you should answer “yes” or “no” consult with an experienced attorney who is familiar with the Missouri Board of Nursing’s licensing requirements.
Do I have to answer “yes” if I’ve had a DUI since my last renewal? You can probably answer no to the first question that excludes traffic violation, but you will have to answer “yes” to the second question that specifically addresses traffic offenses resulting from or related to the use of drugs or alcohol. The first question covers findings of guilt for trespassing, shoplifting, assault, and drug possession as well as many other “non-traffic” offenses. The second question addresses traffic offenses resulting from or related to the use of drugs or alcohol.
Do I have to answer “yes” if I was placed on probation or diversion? Unfortunately, you probably do. You are required to answer “yes” if there was a finding of guilt in your case. A finding of guilt includes a plea of guilty (even to an amended or reduced charge, unless the amended charge was a traffic violation that did not involve drugs or alcohol), a finding of guilt following a trial, or an admission of guilt as a condition of a diversion or treatment court program. Many people are told that a diversion or suspended imposition of sentence (SIS) probation won’t be on their record after they complete the program or the probation. That is true in the criminal courts, but the Board of Nursing has intentionally worded these question to require nurses to report those offenses during the renewal process even after successful completion of probation or diversion. There may be some situations in which a case that was resolved with a “pre-plea” diversion does not need to be reported, but that is very case specific. If you are not sure if you need to report or not you should consult with an attorney.
Do I have to answer “yes” if I’ve been charged with a crime, but my case is still pending? No. Both of the questions on the renewal application require a finding of guilt. If you have received a ticket or have been charged in a criminal or municipal court, but the case is still pending, you are presumed to be innocent. If your case is ultimately dismissed or you are found not guilty you do not have to report that you were charged. If this applies to you, make sure your criminal defense attorney knows you are a Registered Nurse and understands the potential license consequences of a guilty plea.
What happens after I answer “yes”? Generally you will receive a letter from the Board of Nursing asking for additional information several weeks after you submit your renewal application. They will likely request certified court records, police reports, and a written explanation from you. If you haven’t already hired an attorney to help you through the process, now is the time to do it. An experienced attorney can help you determine what documents need to be produced and assist you with drafting a response letter that explains the situation to the board in a way that minimizes the risk of disciplinary action.
What happens if I answer “no” when I should have answered “yes”? I suppose you might get away with it, but in my opinion it’s not worth the risk. If the Board of Nursing discovers that you were dishonest on your renewal application, you could very well face suspension or revocation of your nursing license for something that you otherwise might have received a slap on the wrist.