Denial of a Physician Assistant Certificate following a DUI Conviction

A conviction of a DUI can prevent the issuance of a Physician’s Assistant (PA) certificate.

The National Commission on Certification of Physician Assistants (NCCPA) requires a PA seeking certification to pass a national examination before being licensed by the individual state committees.   In California, the profession is licensed and governed by the Physician Assistant Committee (PAC).

PA students applying for the PANCE exam must disclose any convictions.  The NCCPA may deny an application because of a DUI charge based on their disciplinary policy and Code of Conduct.  Even if the NCCPA lets a person sit the exam, one may later be denied by the state licensing committee based on the same conviction.  On the other hand, if a PA student is not allowed to sit the PANCE exam, they can never be certified by PAC.

Any DUI conviction must be disclosed on the applications, and all related arrest and court documents must be submitted to both PAC and the NCCPA for review.  Prospective PAs must also submit a personal statement explaining the DUI charge in detail.

The California Business and Professions code authorizes the committee to deny a state license application for the conviction of any crime (Bus. & Prof. Code § 480.) Subsequently, the California Code of Regulations defines driving under the influence as a criminal conviction substantially related to the work of a Physician Assistant (16 CCR. § 1399.525(i).)

In recent communications with the NCCPA (678-417-8100) and PAC (916-561-8780), the committees confirmed that they use a subjective standard when looking at a candidate’s DUI history.  The severity of the charge, the time it occurred, and the steps taken toward rehabilitation are all considered in the review.  In exercising its discretion regarding whether to deny a license PAC is guided by 16 CCR § 1399.526, which lists criteria for evaluating an individual’s rehabilitation.  Candidates may be approved, denied or offered a probationary license based on the committees’ decisions.

If you or someone you know has a professional license or is an applicant for a professional license in the State of California and has been arrested for a DUI charge contact The Law Office of Johnson & Johnson at 925.952.8900 for a consultation.