Getting arrested and charged with driving under the influence (DUI) can feel embarrassing, especially for professionals. You may worry that clients, competitors or your employer will find out about your arrest.
Many professionals facing a first-time DUI charge want nothing more than to forget about their humiliating arrest and move on with their lives. Pleading guilty can seem like an easy way to put one mistake or bad situation behind you. However, pleading guilty is a risky decision with any criminal charge.
Unless you have a specific, written plea bargain, there is no guarantee that pleading guilty will minimize the consequences you face during sentencing. Additionally, your guilty plea means a criminal record that could have dire implications for your career. Not only might your employer let you go over a conviction if they have a policy on criminal convictions, but you could potentially even lose your ability to continue your profession if you lose your state license.
Georgia oversees multiple professions through licensing boards
Skilled and educated professionals perform services that the general public can’t do for themselves. Regulations and licensing requirements for educated and skilled professions help reduce the potential of incompetent or unethical people working in positions of trust.
Georgia licenses people who work in many different career fields. Medical professionals, landscaping professionals, manicurists, used car dealers and even librarians have to have licenses to work in their chosen profession. They have to apply for a license, a process that involves submitting documentation to the appropriate State Licensing board.
Professionals may have to provide evidence of their education, their work history and even their criminal background in order to secure a license to work in Georgia. Most licensing boards have limitations on criminal convictions. Licensed professionals could face board review and censure or even the loss of their professional license if they plead guilty to a DUI charge.
Avoiding a conviction protects your professional license
Generally, there needs to be evidence of wrongdoing, unethical behavior or other issues for the licensing board to punish you. Once you plead guilty or get convicted, your criminal record will serve as proof in disciplinary review hearings.
If you can avoid a conviction, you may be able to avoid professional penalties, like the loss of your license. However, even if you get convicted or plead guilty, you may still be able to defend yourself in front of the state licensing board.
Anyone facing board review or punitive measures has the right to defend their license just like they have the right to defend against a crime in court. You may need to explore every avenue open to you to protect your career after a DUI arrest.