Pilots and DUIs
Pilots and DUIs
This page looks at the relationship between Pilots and DUIs. This article discusses the factual scenario where you have been arrested for a DUI in a vehicle outside of work hours. For those arrested while operating a plane under the influence of any substance that is not allowed, there would additionally be an NTSB hearing in many cases.
If you have been arrested for a DUI, or have been convicted of a DUI, and you have any type or rating of FAA Airman’s Certificate or a Pilot’s License, then you have three major areas where you need to be concerned:
- Your employer (if you are a commercial pilot);
- The FAA; and
- Your medical certificate.
DUI and Pilots – Your Employer
If you were arrested for a DUI, you may be required to report that fact to your employer. Whether you need to or not will depend on your employment contract. Many employment contracts require affirmatively that you notify them of any arrests. If you are part of a union, then in most cases, you cannot be fired without notice and the right to participate in a hearing.
DUI and Pilots – The FAA
Your duties to the FAA if arrested for DUI:
You must report to the FAA DMV actions or DUI arrest on the medical certification application in section 18(v) when you are arrested, not just when you are convicted.
The application requires that the applicant must report any arrests, or convictions, or administrative actions relating to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Please note that even if your DUI lawyer has the case dismissed, or the charges are reduced to anything below a DUI, that result is still not an excuse not to report, as the arrest itself triggers mandatory reporting for Pilot Licenses and DUI. If you were pulled over, requested to perform a field sobriety test, and/or asked to perform a breathalyzer, that is reportable in the affirmative on the application, by itself.
Your duties to the FAA if convicted for DUI:
Federal Aviation Regulation 61.15(e) states that when an airman is convicted of an action involving alcohol or drugs, a report must be made to the FAA Civil Aviation Security Division not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action. Pilot Licenses and DUI are a growing problem, so there is an online form that you can download and submit to the security division: Online Airmen DUI Report. (Under 14 CFR 61.15, all pilots must send a Notification Letter (MS Word) to the FAA Security and Investigations Division, within 60 calendar days of the effective date of an alcohol-related conviction or administrative action.)
DUI and Pilots – Your Medical Certificate
Your FAA medical certificate is handled separately for Pilot Licenses and DUI, as alcohol abuse is treated as a potential physical or psychological issue. The FAA medical personnel will then require your AME to obtain the arresting officer’s report, in addition to copies of the court records of your hearing.
We have a much more comprehensive article about what to do with the FAA and your Airman’s Certificate that you should review.
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