Drinking and Flying: How a DUI Could Jeopardize Your Pilot’s License

Every day, we entrust pilots to get us from one city to another efficiently and, without incident. We place our complete faith and trust in a pilot’s skills and training to safely navigate the skies. For this reason, pilots who drink and “fly” are subject to not one, but two sets of rules. First, pilots like any other person, are subject to the state laws in which they are driving. In Kansas, this means that a person is no longer considered able to operate a motor vehicle if he or she has a blood alcohol content limit at or above .08%. In addition to following local state laws, a pilot must also adhere to the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARS) promulgated by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration).

If a pilot is involved in a motor vehicle incident involving alcohol, certain procedures must be followed. Failure to timely comply with these procedures can cause the FAA to revoke or suspend a pilot’s license. Although the easiest way to avoid problems with the FAA is to not drink and drive, sometimes lapses in judgment do occur. If you are a pilot and find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being charged with an alcohol related driving offense, there are a few things you need to know.

First, is that you are required under FARS to send a notification letter. This letter must be sent within 60 days of the effective date of each and every alcohol related conviction or administrative action involving a motor vehicle. A copy of this form letter can be found on the FAA’s website. The notification letter must be sent to the FAA’s Security and Investigation Division in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. An alcohol related motor vehicle action that would necessitate sending notification letter can include:

  • Revocation, suspension or cancellation of the pilot’s driver’s license as the result of either the pilot failing to pass an alcohol test or by having a blood alcohol content above .08.
  • Conviction for driving under the influence (DUI), operating while under the influence (OWUI), or driving while intoxicated (DWI).
  • Suspension of a license due to the pilot’s unreasonable refusal to submit to alcohol testing.

As a pilot, you also want to be aware that you may need to send more than one notification letter to the FAA for the incident. For example, if a license is suspended at the time of an arrest for example, for blowing a .95, the pilot would need to send a notification letter within 60 days of this event. If the pilot is later convicted of a DUI by the court, then he or she would need to send another notification letter to the FAA for this event, regardless of the facts that the events both stemmed from the same alcohol related motor vehicle action.

Do not think you can avoid having the FAA discover your alcohol related motor vehicle action by failing to send a notification letter. The FAA will find out about the action and your failure to comply with the regulation can result in a suspension or revocation of your pilot’s license. You will also have to report the action on your medical application.

If you are a pilot who has been charged with an alcohol related motor vehicle offense, you need an experienced Kansas DUI attorney. For more than three decades attorney Charles E. Whitman has defended individuals whose licenses and careers depend on a clean driving record. Protect your license and hire a skilled and seasoned litigator. Contact the Whitman Law Offices today at (785) 843-9460 to schedule your free confidential consultation. At the Whitman Law Offices, we will take the necessary steps to make sure that your rights are protected.

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