For practicing physicians in Colorado, a DUI conviction can have even more serious consequences than for someone who is not a licensed professional. When you face DUI charges, you need to deal not just with the criminal defense system but also with the Medical Board.
According to the Colorado Medical Practice Act (CMPA), you must inform the Medical Board of any “adverse action” against you that could also form grounds for discipline. You have 30 days from the adverse action – in the case of a DUI, from conviction – to submit your report.
Be aware that even if this your first DUI and no aggravating factors are present, you take a huge risk by unilaterally deciding that it is not grounds for discipline and thus does not need reporting. Failing to report can form independent grounds for discipline and incur greater penalties than the DUI itself.
The Medical Board evaluates each report on a case-by-case basis. Generally, a physician who reports a DUI must get an evaluation by Colorado Physicians’ Health Program, or CPHP. Its purpose is to determine whether the DUI happened as a result of an ongoing mental or physical problem such as addiction. The Board will examine the facts of the case and decide whether the physician’s condition is likely to affect his or her ability to provide health care.
Depending on the Board’s findings, potential consequences can be as minor as a letter of complaint in your file or as devastating as losing your medical license. Within this range, discipline may take the form of suspension, required treatment and/or a period of close supervision.
Because even otherwise minor DUI charges can seriously affect your medical career, you should contact a reputable attorney as soon as possible. Look for an experienced and knowledgeable lawyer who understands what a DUI can mean for you and will fight to protect your right and your livelihood.