Best selling author and Oklahoma attorney William G. Bernhardt is no stranger to an intense plot line. Only usually, he is writing the story, not a character in it.
Before Bernhardt became a best selling author of crime and suspense novels, he obtained his law license from the State of Oklahoma in 1986. However, he recently nearly lost his bar card for having one too many before driving. Bernhardt has suffered no less than four DUI arrests since 2007. He is currently on felony DUI and felony eluding probation until 2018.
The judges who made up the panel to determine whether Bernhardt should keep his law license or be banned from practice all together were nearly evenly divided on the issue. The vote was 5-4 in favor of Bernhardt keeping his license. Some judges opined that since Bernhardt had not practiced law for the last fifteen years, his drinking problem did not have a direct impact on any clients.
Even though Bernhardt was able to avoid losing his law license, he is still under strict rules from the Oklahoma Supreme Court. During the next two years and one day Bernhardt is required to refrain from using any alcohol, mind-altering substance, or illegal drugs. Bernhardt is also required to work with the group Lawyers Helping Lawyers, a lawyer substance abuse counseling network. He is also required to make weekly check-ins with his mentor. If Bernhardt violates the rules set forth above by the Supreme Court, he would likely face suspension or disbarment.
Bernhardt’s alcohol woes did not start until he was in his 40s. His first DUI was in Tulsa, Oklahoma in 2007. He arrested again in 2007 in Jenks, Oklahoma for another DUI and for public intoxication in Tulsa. In 2011, Bernhardt was arrested for felony DUI and felony aggravated attempting to elude a police officer. He was placed on felony probation until 2018 for the 2011 arrest. Bernhardt’s most recent arrest was in 2011 in Lincoln, Nebraska for misdemeanor DUI.
Bernhardt claims that he has been absolutely sober since December 10, 2011.
Source: NewsOK.com, Court Rules Best-Selling Oklahoma Writer can Keep His Law License If He Stays Sober, March 31, 2014.