Kim Richards Arrest Puts Her On 'RHOBH' Chopping Block

4/19/2015 1:00 AM PDT

Kim Richards -- Arrest Puts Her on the 'RHOBH' Chopping Block

EXCLUSIVE

If you don't see Kim Richards on the next season of "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills" it'll be because of her drunken arrest earlier this week ... TMZ has learned.

Sources close to production tell us producers feel Kim's substance abuse issues make her a liability. There are insurance issues with the show, and serious concerns that if something happens to Kim, Bravo could be on the hook for keeping her on such a contentious, demanding show. 

We're told a decision has not been made, but the alarm has been sounded and there's serious discussion about giving Kim the ax.

Here's where there's a split. Some production sources says Kim's substance abuse problem has been in full bloom all season. Several members of the cast and crew say they've watched Kim present a public picture of sobriety, but when the cameras are off she goes off the rails.

But other production sources tell us Kim actually did better this season in the sobriety department than she's done in years. They also think it's hypocritical for producers to turn their back on Kim now ... they say if she was such a problem she shouldn't have been exploited all year.

The show still has a few months before production starts back up again, so producers have some time to make their final decision.