Article 5 - License to Practice Across State Lines

§ 34-22-80. Legislative findings.

The Legislature hereby finds and declares that, because of technological advances and changing practice patterns, the practice of optometry is occurring with increasing frequency across state lines and certain technological advances in the practice of optometry are in the public interest. The Legislature further finds and declares that the practice of optometry is a privilege and that the Licensure by this state of practitioners located outside this state engaging in such optometric practice within this state and the ability to discipline such practitioners is necessary for the protection of the citizens of this state and for the public interest, health, welfare, and safety. (Act 98-495, § 1.)

Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-81. Definitions.

(a) The practice of optometry across state lines means the practice of optometry as defined in Section 34-22-1(4), as it applies to:

(1) The rendering of a written or otherwise documented professional opinion concerning the diagnosis or treatment of a patient located within this state by an optometrist located outside this state as a result of transmission of individual patient data by electronic or other means from within this state to such optometrist or his or her agent.

(2) The rendering of treatment to a patient located within this state by an optometrist located outside this state as a result of transmission of individual patient data by electronic or other means from this state to such optometrist or his or her agent.

(3) This definition is not intended to include an informal consultation between a licensed optometrist located in this state and an optometrist located outside this state provided that the consultation is conducted without compensation or the expectation of compensation to either optometrist and does not result in the formal rendering of a written or otherwise documented professional opinion concerning the diagnosis or treatment of a patient by the optometrist located outside the state.

(b) Board means the Alabama Board of Optometry created pursuant to Section 34-22-40. (Act 98-495, § 2.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-82. Practice of optometry across state lines; certificate of qualification; requirements; license generally.

(a) No person shall engage in the practice of optometry across state lines in this state, hold himself or herself out as qualified to practice optometry, or use any title, word, or abbreviation to indicate or induce others to believe that he or she is licensed in this state to practice optometry across state lines unless he or she has been issued a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines in accordance with the provisions of this article; provided however, that no person who holds a full, unrestricted and current license issued pursuant to Sections 34-22-1 to 34-22-43, inclusive, shall be required to obtain a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines.

(b) An individual shall submit an application for a certificate of qualification for a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines on a form provided by the board and shall remit an application fee in an amount established by the board. The Alabama Board of Optometry shall issue a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines upon presentation by an applicant of a certificate of qualification issued by the Alabama Board of Optometry in accordance with this section. The authority of the board to issue, revoke, or suspend the special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines shall be the same as the general authority granted to the board under Sections 34-22-5 to 34-22-43, inclusive. The Alabama Board of Optometry shall issue a certificate of qualification certifying an applicant for a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines who has met the following requirements:

(1) The applicant holds a full and unrestricted license to practice optometry in any and all states of the United States or in territories in which the individual is licensed.

(2) The applicant has not had any disciplinary action or other action taken against the applicant by any state or licensing jurisdiction. applicant, the board may issue a certificate of qualification if it finds that the previous disciplinary or other action does not indicate that the optometrist is a potential threat to the public. of three years, shall expire on a renewal date established by the board in the third calendar year after its issuance, and may be renewed upon receipt of a renewal fee as established by the board. Failure to renew a license according to the renewal schedule established by the board shall result in the automatic revocation of the special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines. An applicant may reapply following automatic revocation for failure to renew. (Act 98-495, § 3.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-83. Jurisdiction of board; duties of licensees; suspension of license.

(a) The issuance by the board of a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines subjects the licensee to the jurisdiction of the board in all matters set forth in Sections 34-22-1 to 34-22-43, inclusive, and implementing rules and regulations of the board, including all matters related to discipline. It shall be the affirmative duty of every licensee to report to the Alabama Board of Optometry in writing within 15 days of the initiation of any disciplinary action against the licensee to practice optometry by any state or territory in which the licensee is licensed. In addition, the licensee agrees, by acceptance of the license, to produce patient records or materials as requested by the board or to appear before the board or any of its committees following receipt of a written notice issued by the board. Such notice may be issued by the board pursuant to Sections 34-22-1 to 34-22-43, inclusive.

(b) The Alabama Board of Optometry is hereby authorized to temporarily suspend a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines without a hearing on either of the following grounds:

(1) The failure of the Licensee to appear or produce records or materials as requested by the board.

(2) The initiation of a disciplinary action against the licensee by any state or territorial licensing jurisdiction in which the licensee holds a license to practice optometry.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, including the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act, the temporary suspension provided herein shall remain in effect until either the licensee has complied with the request of the board or the disciplinary action pending against the licensee has been terminated in favor of the licensee and the temporary suspension is terminated by a written order of the Alabama Board of Optometry. A special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines is subject to each of the grounds for disciplinary action provided in Section 34-22-6, in accordance with the procedures of Section 34-22-8, and the Alabama Administrative Procedure Act. (Act 98-495, § 4.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-84. Maintenance of records.

Any licensee licensed pursuant to this article shall comply with all laws, rules, and regulations governing the maintenance of patient records, including patient confidentially requirements, regardless of the state where the records of any patient within this state are maintained. (Act 98-495, § 5.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-85. Exceptions.

(a) An optometrist who engages in the practice of optometry across state lines in an emergency, as defined by the board, is not subject to this article.

(b) An optometrist who engages in the practice of optometry across state lines on an irregular or infrequent basis is not subject to this article. The "irregular or infrequent" Practice of optometry across state Lines is considered to occur if the practice occurs less than 10 times in a calendar year or involves fewer than 10 patients in a calendar year, or comprises less than one percent of the optometrist's diagnostic or therapeutic practice. (Ad 98-495, § 6.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-86. Penalties; disciplinary action.

(a) Any person who violates this article is subject to criminal prosecution for the unlicensed practice of optometry under Section 34-22-6, or other action authorized in this state to prohibit or penalize continued practice without a license under Section 34-22-8.

(b) Nothing in this article shall be interpreted to limit or restrict the board's authority to discipline any optometrist licensed to practice in this state who violates Sections 34-22-6 to 34-22-8, inclusive, while engaging in the practice of optometry within this or any other state. (Act 98-495, § 7.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-87. Comity.

Notwithstanding any provision of this article, the board shall only issue a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines to an applicant whose principal practice location and license to practice is located in a state or territory of the United States whose laws permit or allow for the issuance of a special purpose license to practice optometry across state lines or similar license to an optometrist whose principal practice location and license is located in another state. It is the stated intent of this article that optometrists who hold a full and current license in the State of Alabama be afforded the opportunity to obtain, on a reciprocal basis, a license to practice optometry across state lines in any state or territory of the United States as a precondition to the issuance of a special purpose license as authorized by this article to an optometrist licensed in such state or territory. The Alabama Board of Optometry shall determine which states or territories have reciprocal licensure requirements meeting the qualifications of this section. (Act 98-495, § 8.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.

§ 34-22-88. Rules and regulations.

The Alabama Board of Optometry is vested with authority to adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to effect the purposes of this article. (Act 98-495, § 9.)

HISTORY Effective date: The act which added this section became effective August 1, 1998.