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What Happens When a Pilot gets a DUI/DWI?

By Stuart Simpson

Your worst nightmare as a pilot - a DUI. Will this end your career as a pilot? What if you are the lawyer representing a pilot? Is this a simple DUI case or will it end your law career with a malpractice lawsuit? I know these questions can light up your eyes to why a pilot is different when they get a DUI.

First, pilot or not, you have to follow your state laws. Keep in mind your time frame for appeals or administrative hearings. You could probably get your driver's license back under an occupational license during your suspension. Even if its your first offense, you better be on your toes if you want to keep flying.

Second, pilots fall under another set of rules from the FAA. They are the FARS (Federal Aviation Regulations). Do you have to report to the FAA now or later? Can I just put it on my FAA First Class Medical Certificate? Can I just call the CFI (certified flight instructor) at the local FAA office FSDO (Flight Standards District Office)?

Your most important resource (lawyer or pilot) is Section 61.15 of the FARS. Section (e) states that you must report 'not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action'. It lists the things you must submit to the FAA, Civil Action Security Division in Oklahoma City, not your local FSDO. This is very serious as section (f) states 'Failure to comply with paragraph (e) of this section is grounds for . . .(2) Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part.'

In summary, what do you do? If you are convicted of a DUI/DWI, it must be reported on your medical application. You also have to notify the FAA in Oklahoma City within 60 days of the conviction. Do NOT contact the local FSDO, as this is NOT incompliance with the FARS. Do this quick or face a suspension for a non-reporting violation.

Drinking and Driving is bad. Drinking and flying is worse. Both can end careers, lives and marriages. They can even take innocent victims. Also, if you have two separate incidents within a 3-year period, then the FAA can deny an application or revoke/suspend a pilot's license. You can avoid all of this by not drinking and driving.

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