Criminal Convictions in the EMS Field


By Jamie D. Quient


A DUI or other criminal charge can have very serious consequences for an EMT, including but not limited to, loss of his or her EMT license. EMS providers may be required to conduct an investigation and/or take disciplinary action upon learning that an employee is facing criminal charges.


Here are some common questions and answers on this topic. Consult with an attorney if one of your employees is facing disciplinary action or you would like legal advice.


Does the DUI need to be reported?


Initial and renewal applications for an EMT license will almost always have to declare prior criminal convictions, even if the conviction has been expunged. There are a few narrow exceptions to these disclosure requirements, so applicants should carefully review the relevant laws before disclosing a prior criminal record to avoid unnecessary disclosure. For example, in California, license applicants do not need to report a criminal record where the criminal conviction was later dismissed and the dismissal was not an expungement.


If an EMT is convicted of a crime, he or she may need to report the conviction to the EMS agency even before the license is up for renewal. EMTs may also be obligated to report a criminal charge to the agency even if they have not yet been convicted of a crime.


Once the EMS agency receives notice of an EMT’s arrest and/or conviction, it will most likely initiate an investigation to determine if the criminal charges are substantially related to the qualifications of the position. The first step in the investigation is typically asking the EMT to provide a statement of explanation so the EMT has the opportunity to explain the circumstances surrounding the arrest and/or conviction.


Can an EMT lose their license?


An EMT may be subject to disciplinary action as a result of a DUI or other conviction. Disciplinary action can take many forms, including public reprimand, probation, suspension or revocation of one’s license. In determining whether the licensee should be subject to discipline, the question is typically whether the crime or act is substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of the EMT’s position. In addition, an EMT may be subject to discipline as a result of addiction to, excessive use of or the misuse of alcoholic beverages, narcotics, dangerous drugs or controlled substances.


Each EMS agency has its own criteria to aid it in determining whether a crime or act is substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of the position. In addition, each EMS agency reviews the specific facts and circumstances and conduct that brought about the criminal conviction (e.g. blood alcohol level, whether the incident occurred at the workplace or on the way to or from work, first offense vs. multiple offenses, etc.). In recent years there is a trend toward discipline or denial of licenses based upon drug and alcohol-related convictions.


Responsibilities of the provider


The law may impose duties on EMS providers who employ licensed EMTs to investigate and/or impose disciplinary action on EMTs charged with and/or convicted of a crime. For example, under the relevant statute in California, EMT employers may conduct their own investigations and, where necessary, take disciplinary action for violations of the rules governing professional conduct, including conviction of a crime related to the position and/or addiction to alcohol or drugs. Under the California statute, EMT employers must notify the medical director of the local EMS agency within three days of terminating or suspending an EMT for disciplinary cause, if the EMT resigns while under investigation, or the EMT is removed from EMT-related duties for a disciplinary cause after the employer completes its investigation.


An attorney with experience representing EMS providers can help you successfully navigate the process and ensure you comply with the relevant rules and regulations.





Although the information contained herein is provided by professionals at Procopio, the content and information should not be used as a substitute for professional services. If legal or other professional advice is required, the services of a professional should be sought.

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