How serious is breaking the law?

April 21, 2005
A student caught driving while intoxicated wonders about the effect the citation will have on her career.


Dear RDH eVillage:

I hope someone can answer this question for me. I need an answer or a referral to someone who can help me. I am a dental hygiene student. I have been so excited about my career choice; it's practically all I think about.

However, I recently jeopardized my dream. I was issued a traffic citation for driving while intoxicated. I do not make this a habit, but I have the ticket and must deal with this. I know alcohol citations are one of the questions on Michigan's State Dental Hygienist License Application -- a yes or no answer to an alcohol misdemeanor.

I dearly hope I have not ruined my future over this. Please, if anybody can tell me if this will prevent me from getting my license I would appreciate it. Also, if any licensed dental hygienists have had the same misfortune as I, please share your experience with me so I may prepare myself for what I will be up against.

Worried in Michigan

Dear Worried in Michigan:

Do not let anyone give you advice on this! Personal thoughts will get you into trouble at best. The only, I repeat ONLY place you should go to for an answer to a question such as this is the state regulatory agency in your state. Any other suggestions of whether it will or will not affect your dental hygiene future are pure speculation.

There are certain ways to respond to this and they do vary from state to state depending on the actual citation, penalty, honesty in reporting, lapse of time from date of citation, etc. Taking all of this into consideration, you can see how important it is to immediately be in touch with the Michigan Dental Board to secure the information you need.

TRICIA OSUNA, RDH, BS, Tricia received a Bachelor of Science degree in Dental Hygiene from the School of Dentistry, University of Southern California in 1978. She was in clinical practice in the Los Angeles area until July 2001, and now continues to work in various dental offices. She served for four years as the Dental Hygienist Representative on the USC Dental Alumni Association Board of Directors. In addition to private practice, Tricia was a clinical instructor at the UCLA School of Dentistry in the Department of Advanced General Dentistry. In March of 2002 Governor Gray Davis of California appointed Tricia to a four year term as a Board Member on the Dental Board of California. Professionally, Tricia has been quite active in her professional Association since graduation, serving as an elected delegate to the Annual Sessions of the Southern California Dental Hygienists Association, California Dental Hygienists' Association and American Dental Hygienists' Association. Tricia has also served as President of the South Bay Dental Hygienists' Society along with numerous positions in both Los Angeles and South Bay Dental Hygienists' Societies. In 1992 she was elected to a term as President of the California Dental Hygienists' Association. Recognized for her many efforts and contributions to the Dental Hygiene profession, Tricia has received several awards including the CDHA's President's Recognition Award, the ADHA Bausch and Lomb "Distinctions in Dental Hygiene" Award and most recently, the American Dental Hygienists' Association Distinguished Service Award.