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I have a DUI, considered a motor vehicle violation in the state it occured. If moving to a new state, how do I address prior conviction questions?



Dear Nancy,

When I was 20 years old I made the mistake of getting a driving under the influence in one state. I live in another state. In the state where I received the DUI, it is not considered a crime/felony or misdemeanor, but a motor vehicle violation. My lawyer told me I would not have a criminal record and would pass a background check.

I am a licensed RN and want to move to a Western state, but I am a bit confused with how to go about reporting prior convictions section of applications. I also wanted to know if reporting this former DUI will prevent me from being licensed when I move. I have paid for my mistakes and have not made that same mistake again.


Dear Nancy replies:

Dear Bryana,

The ability to move from one state to another to practice nursing is one of the many positive aspects of being a nurse. One of the more difficulty aspects of this silver lining is the fact that each state has its own licensing requirements.

As you may know, this is one reason why the National Council of State Boards of Nursing has supported changing this situation by proposing its Nurse Licensure Compact. In states whose legislature has passed the NLC, it is simpler for RNs to cross state lines in order to practice. You can learn more about the Compact at ( On the home page, click on the Nursing Regulation in the U.S. page and then click on Nurse Licensure Compact in the drop down menu under Licensure. A map of the U.S. will show you what states have passed the Compact and which have not.

If the state within which you are currently licensed and the state you are moving to are within the Compact, you can click on those states and see what is required to move your practice from one to the other. You also will need to contact a nurse attorney or other attorney in the new state to determine how the DUI will be viewed in regard to licensure and how to handle it with the board.

If one or both are states that have not passed the Compact, you also will need to contact a nurse attorney or other attorney in the state in which you want to move your practice. The attorney will be able to provide specifics about licensure in that state, specific advice as to how to handle your DUI, and how the board of nursing deals with this issue in regard to licensure.

You can gain general information about licensure in the new state by going to that state’s BON website. Many boards now have application licensure forms for downloading, general FAQs about licensure issues and other helpful information.



About Author

Nancy J. Brent, RN, MS, JD, is an attorney in private practice in Wilmette, Ill. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as legal or any other advice. The reader is encouraged to seek the advice of an attorney or other professional when an opinion is needed.

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