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If you are a pilot, licensed by the FAA, there are a variety of issues that can occur to you in a civil or criminal court that could materially effect your FAA license. This article deals with the effects of DUI on a airmen certificate.
The most important of these, involves driving under the influence charges. In Virginia, and in most states, if you get charged with driving under the influence, the mere charge alone triggers an administrative suspension of your driving privileges. This occurs even if you are later not found guilty of the charge. Accordingly, the FAA requires that you notify them of ANY administrative suspension of your driving privileges that a DUI related. Failure to do so can and usually does result in administrative action against your airmen certificate. The FAA regulation on this point reads: Under 14 CFR 61.15, all pilots must send a Notification Letter (MS Word) to FAA’s Security and Investigations Division within 60 calendar days of the effective date of an alcohol-related conviction or administrative action. In 14 CFR 61.15(c), alcohol-related convictions or administrative actions refer to motor vehicle actions (MVA). The FAA further requires in the Notification Letter the following information: Notification Letters Note: Each event, conviction, or administrative action, requires a separate Notification Letter. For example, an airman’s driver license may be suspended at the time of arrest for driving under the influence of alcohol for either: Failing a blood/breath testRefusing to testThe airman must send a Notification Letter for the suspension, then send a second Notification Letter if the alcohol related offense results in a conviction. Even though the airman sent two notification letters, FAA views the suspension and conviction as one alcohol-related incident. 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) 954-4989To speed processing, the letter must contain the following information: Name, Address, Date of Birth, Certificate Number, Telephone NumberType of Violation (conviction and/or administrative action)Date(s) of Action(s)State Holding the RecordDriver License Number or State ID Number (if not licensed)Statement whether this relates to a Previously Reported MVAIn my experience, the mere charge of DUI generally does not trigger any adverse reaction with the FAA so long as you report it. So if you have been charged with DUI, it is very important that you notify them of the charge. Also, should you get convicted of the charge, and your drivers license is again suspended due to the conviction, you must re notify the FAA with the same notification letter. Failure to re notify the FAA can result in the same administrative penalty for failing to report the conviction. The FAA may take action against an airmen if the FAA is convinced that the airmen has an alcohol problem. The primary focus is air safety. So if they think the airmen is a concern they will act. Also, a very common problem airmen face is answering the medical question dealing with administrative suspensions of drivers licenses due to alcohol related events. If you are simply arrested for a DUI you must affirmatively report that on your medical applications each time you renew. The arrest and/or conviction must be disclosed to the AME. If you do not disclose it, and the FAA runs a national database check of your records and discovers the arrest and/or conviction, that will result in an emergency revocation of all of your airmen certificates. So absolutely report the arrest even if you beat the charge. The only time you would not have to report an arrest is if you beat the charge and have the case expunged by a appropriate court. The expungement needs to be finalized (not just pending) BEFORE you file your medical application. The most important thing to remember with the FAA, is that disclosure seems to be more important than the facts. What happened in the DUI is of course important, but you can deal with the FAA in litigating what they should do to your certificate based on a DUI arrest or conviction. However, if you fail to disclose the arrest and or conviction as indicated above and on your medical applications, your case is doomed to result in revocations of your hard earned certificates. DISCLOSE DISCLOSE DISCLOSE. And after you have disclosed, DISCLOSE again. Timothy Anderson Attorney at Law and Pilot