Effect of Riverside drunk driving on professional licenses

Drunk driving in Riverside or elsewhere in California can cause extra problems for anyone needing a license from the state to operate.

Business & Professions Code §490, with specified exceptions, enables any licensing board to discipline a licensee who has been convicted of a crime that is “substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession for which the license was issued.”

Business & Professions Code (B&P) §480 authorizes licensing boards to deny a license to an applicant based upon a conviction of a crime. A “no contest” plea or expungement order does not relieve a licensee from discipline or prevent denial of a license due to a conviction.

Not just attorneys and doctors face extra risk from a Riverside drunk driving arrest

Many businesses, services and professions require licensing by the State of California. In order to obtain or renew such a license, the individuals are frequently asked if they have ever been convicted of a crime. The most important thing they can do is to answer the question honestly, but they should read the question carefully and just answer the question asked.

If the conviction has been expunged, they must still admit it (see P.C. §1203.4(a)), but they can indicate that it has been expunged. Some licensed professionals, such as physicians and pilots, have a duty to self-report criminal convictions to the licensing agency. Some agencies receive a report of any criminal conviction suffered by one of their licensees.

As for discipline, the licensing agencies review the facts and circumstances involved in the conduct underlying the criminal conviction (e.g., moderate or high blood-alcohol level; leaving the scene of an accident, etc.). The question is whether “the crime or act is substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of the business or profession for which application is made.” B&P §§480 (license denial) and 490 (license suspension or revocation). Each licensing agency is required to establish guidelines in this arena:

Each board under the provisions of this code shall develop criteria to aid it, when considering the denial, suspension or revocation of a license, to determine whether a crime or act is substantially related to the qualifications, functions, or duties of the business or profession it regulates.

B&P §481.

The agencies must “take into account all competent evidence of rehabilitation furnished by the applicant or licensee.” B&P §482. For this reason, it is helpful for the licensee to embark on a program of recovery right away and maintain verification of it.

As a trend, licensing boards appear more inclined to discipline licensees or deny licenses based upon drunk driving convictions in recent years. Although it is a matter of discretion depending upon the internal policies of a board, multiple DUI offenses are more likely to be problematic than a single offense. Most license discipline cases based upon DUI conviction alone result in a penalty less severe than revocation.

Always answer honestly! A licensee or license applicant can exacerbate the difficulties caused by a DUI conviction by failing to disclose a criminal conviction on a license application or license renewal form. No-contest pleas, expunged convictions, and People v. West pleas (defendant pled guilty but did not admit factual basis for plea) must be disclosed. Failure to disclose can constitute a more serious ground for discipline or denial of a license than the DUI conviction itself, as it bears upon the honesty and trustworthiness of the applicant or licensee and is closer in time to disciplinary proceedings than the conviction itself.

Evaluation of your risk

If you have been arrested for drunk driving in Riverside or elsewhere in Southern California and you have a professional or business license, you may wish to take extra care with your case. If you want our help, you may use the form to your right or contact us at:


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