A DUI Can End a Pilot’s Career if not Handled Properly
A DUI conviction can be detrimental to a pilot’s career if not handled properly. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) takes DUI offenses very seriously, and pilots are required to notify the FAA within sixty (60) days of each DUI related event. Specifically, under 14 CFR 61.15, all pilots must notify the Security and Investigative Division of the FAA by way of notification letter when the pilot has their driver’s license suspended, and a separate letter must be sent if the pilot is convicted of the DUI.
Because alcohol related convictions will appear on your driving record, which you must release to the FAA for a pilot’s license or renewal of medical aviation certification, it is important resist the urge to try and hide the DUI from the FAA. The FAA can and will quickly review your driving record, especially if there is any suspicion that you were convicted of a DUI. However, please note under 14 CFR 61.15(c)(1), you are not required to report the violation to the FAA if the DUI charge took place prior to November 29, 1990.
Requirements for the Notification Letter
The specific requirements for the notification letter are listed in 14 CFR 61.15(e), which are:
“Each person holding a certificate issued under this part shall provide a written report of each motor vehicle action to the FAA, Civil Aviation Security Division (AAC-700), P.O. Box 25810, Oklahoma City, OK 73125, not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action. The report must include –
(1) The person’s name, address, date of birth, and airman certificate number;
(2) The type of violation that resulted in the conviction or the administrative action;
(3) The date of the conviction or administrative action;
(4) The state that holds the record of conviction or administrative action; and
(5) A statement of whether the motor vehicle action resulted from the same incident or arose out of the same factual circumstances related to a previously-reported motor vehicle action.”
A DUI does NOT mean an End to your Piloting Career
Getting a DUI will not automatically mean that your career as a pilot is over. However, if you are convicted, you can expect that the FAA will conduct an alcoholism inquiry in order to determine if you are fit to keep your pilot’s license. For someone that receives a DUI while in the process of becoming a pilot, it can affect your chances of obtaining the pilot’s license if you do not handle the process responsibly and properly. Thus, if you report the DUI, and conduct yourself in a manner that indicates you do not suffer from alcohol dependency, you have a good chance of keeping your pilots license.
It is important to know that you are still capable of successfully passing your aviation medical exam even with a DUI on your record, but not without being examined by the FAA. The one exception to the requirement of being examined by the FAA is if: your BAC was under 0.15, you never refused to submit to a BAC test, you properly reported the DUI to the FAA, and you have never had any prior arrests or convictions. If you have multiple DUIs, you may experience difficulty applying for an aviation medical certificate, as the FAA usually deems this an indication of a habitual alcohol or addition problem.
Do NOT Assume You’ll Lose Your License
It is important to know your options if you are a pilot charged with DUI, and you should not assume that you will lose your pilot’s license. Brian Manchester has extensive training in DUI defense and is even a member of the National College for DUI Defense, the American Chemical Society, and the Society of Forensic Toxicologists. Brian Manchester also regularly attends seminars that specifically focus on DUI defenses, and he was also the Educational Chairman for the Pennsylvania Association of Drunk Driving Defense Attorneys. For a free consultation, we can be contacted at 1-800-243-4878.