Pilot Licenses and a DUI: What to do with the FAA and your Airman’s Certificate

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Tag Archives: pilots

Pilot Licenses and a DUI: What to do with the FAA and your Airman’s Certificate

Pilot Licenses and a DUI:  What to do with the FAA and your Airman’s Certificate

DUI and Pilots

Pilot Licenses and DUI. You are a pilot.  You depend on your FAA Airman’s Certificate and License, and your Medical Certification, for your career.  And you know the FAA takes DUI cases seriously. If you get a DUI as a pilot, what do you need to do?  This article discusses Pilot Licenses and a DUI:  What to do with the FAA and your Airman’s Certificate.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – Planning Ahead

Logic tells you that the best course of action is to plan ahead.  Using taxis, ride sharing services like Uber or Lyft, or the kidness of friends, avoids you driving without any substances in your system and avoids the problem Pilot Licenses and DUI from the beginning.

After their arrest, many pilots try to explain to the FAA the circumstances around their DUI event, and mention that they did not think they drank that much or how close they got pulled over to their home, or how much they needed to drive that night as a matter of necessity.

None of that matters to the FAA.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – if arrested

The next thing to understand is to not refuse a breathalyzer test when the officer requests you to perform one. That is a “refusal” under California law, and in legal terminology the FAA views that as equivalent to a DUI, no matter whether or not you were truly impaired or over the legal limit.  With a California Driver’s License, you can suffer a one year hard suspension of your driving privileges if you refuse, and that action alone for holders of Pilot Licenses and DUI convictions can cause the FAA can pull your certificate, or take other actions, if you refuse.

Note that 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. 

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – if convicted

There are two things, as a pilot, that you also need to do when you are convicted of 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. Pilot Licenses and DUI are a growing problem, so there is an <http://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/ash/ash_programs/investigations/airmen_duidwi/> 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.)

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – if you miss the deadline

Failure to send a Notification Letter within 60 days to FAA’s Security & Investigations Division is grounds for:

  • Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this regulation for up to one year after the date of the motor vehicle action
  • Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this regulation

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – your medical certification

The other reporting requirement is Item 18(v) on your next FAA medical application. 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 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.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – high alcohol levels

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 not need to do nothing else.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – a personal statement

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 honest in the letter. Do not be confrontational, and it is in your best interests to stick to the facts, be truthful and honest, and remorseful if anything.

In all of these circumstances, the FAA medical records office maintains 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.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – where to send information

The Address to Send Notification Letters to:

Federal Aviation Administration
Security and Investigations Division (AMC-700)
P.O. Box 25810
Oklahoma City, OK 73125
or
Fax to: (405) 954-4989

The FAA Form 8500-8 “Application for Airmen Medical” contains an express consent provision which authorizes the National Driver Register (NDR) to release information about your driving record to FAA. Information on the NDR record will contain pointers to states that keep a driving history on you. The FAA will obtain applicable records to determine if you have a reportable alcohol-related MVA.The National Driver’s Registration (NDR) also reveals all alcohol related arrests and convictions to the FAA via authorization from the medical application. You should expect that the FAA will be notified of your arrest within a week.

The consequences vary from being placed on probation to termination or revocation of your Pilot Licenses and DUI punishment in addition. Failing to disclose can exacerbate the problem and cause more serious and more recent disciplinary results to Pilot Licenses and DUI action against driver’s licenses.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – International Travel

International Travel and DUI

A conviction can also cause problems entering certain countries, most notably Canada.  That country, and certain others, often deny access to visitors with DUI convictions. This would be especially difficult for commercial pilots, who are required to travel to many foreign countries as part of their employment.

Pilot Licenses and a DUI – we can help

Our office has represented many pilots in the past, and as someone that held an FAA Private Pilots License, I am especially sympathetic and helpful towards those with an Airmen’s Certificate.  Pilot Licenses and DUI take special handling. We can help you and keep you flying.

Contact us now – Let’s Get Started.

Don’t delay contacting us.  We can start you on a plan of action today that will help your license later. Contact us today.