DUI and Pilots
DUI and Pilots: What a pilot needs to do if you have a DUI arrest. Let me get this out of the way, as others will tell you this also. If you’re a pilot, in particular, don’t drink and drive. Often, pilots explain to the FAA will try to minimize the circumstances around their DUI, and state that they did not drink “that much” or mention that they got pulled over close to their home.
As someone with an FAA flight certificate, you also need to understand that you must not refuse a breathalyzer test when an officer requests you to perform one. That is called a “refusal” in legal terminology, and the FAA views that as equivalent to a DUI.
The two things that you need to do when you receive a 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. There is an online form that you can download and submit to the security division.
The other reporting requirement is Item 18(v) on your next FAA medical application. The application requires that the applicant must report any arrests, convictions, or administrative actions relating to operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Please take note that even having your lawyer get the offense reduced or thrown out is not an excuse not to report. A report is not a finding of guilt, but is just, as it states, a report. 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!
The FAA medical department will require your AME to obtain the arresting officer’s report, in addition to copies of the court records of your hearing. If your breathalyzer results are equal to or greater than 0.15 percent, you will need to provide a substance abuse evaluation. That will require you to locate a licensed counselor in substance abuse/dependence, or a psychologist or psychiatrist who has extra training in addiction medicine, and be evaluated. Depending on the results of the evaluation, you may be required to provide even more extensive (and expensive) evaluations. If your breathalyzer is less than the 0.15 percent, then you may need to do nothing else.
The FAA often also requests that you submit a “personal statement” surrounding the events leading up to the traffic stop and DUI arrest, including comments about your past and current alcohol/drug use. My personal advice is to be contrite in the letter. Do not be confrontational, but instead admit you made a mistake, and be remorseful and mention it will not happen again.
In all of these circumstances, the FAA medical personnel maintain a record of how many DUIs you collect. Two DUI events within a three-year period will result in the requirement for an evaluation by an addiction trained psychologist or psychiatrist. Three DUIs in a lifetime is considered by the FAA to be a possible sign of alcohol dependence and will result in a denial of your medical application. In order to attempt to regain your medical certificate after that event, you will be required to obtain psychological and psychiatric evaluations by addiction trained specialists who are familiar with FAA policies; a certified true copy of all the driving records in states you hold licenses in; and a typed letter from yourself concerning your alcohol- or drug-use habits.
The bottom line is that, even when you’ve gone through a DUI arrest, you still have the follow the paperwork rules and have the right procedures in place to make sure the FAA is happy and will allow you to keep your certification.
If you have any questions for our DUI Lawyers, call our firm at (877) 942-3090, anytime. We are experienced in representing pilots with DUI issues.