ALCOHOL-RELATED DRIVING OFFENSES HAVE SPECIAL IMPLICATIONS FOR PILOTS THAT REQUIRE IMMEDIATE ACTION AND LEGAL ATTENTION
April 9, 2013
If you are a pilot and have received a DUI or DWAI you must act immediately to protect your pilot’s license. In most instances, the simple failure to report a conviction or administrative action in as little as sixty (60) days can be grounds for a formal investigation to be opened and your pilot’s license revoked or suspended.
Under 14 CFR 61.15, all pilots, Flight Instructors and Ground Instructors must send a Notification Letter to the 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).
In many instances, the duty to report can arise before any conviction occurs in court following a guilty plea or conviction at trial. If you have administrative action taken against you by the Department of Motor Vehicles for refusing to submit to a chemical test or for allegedly failing a test by submitting a breath or blood sample above the legal limit of .08 such action can trigger your duty to act by notifying the FAA of such action. In many instances, you may still have a duty to report the alcohol-related driving incident (DWI, DUI, DWAI) even if the charges in court are dismissed.
The National Driver Register or NDR is a computerized database that compiles information on drivers throughout the United States. It’s records of individual state actions revoking or suspending driver’s licenses or for convictions of alcohol and drug-related driving convictions is immediately assessable to the FAA. As part of a pilot’s application or renewal of a medical certification, he or she must give the FAA a release so that it can confirm compliance through the NDR’s records. If an applicant or pilot seeking a renewal of their certification is determined to have an alcohol or drug-related conviction or even a driver’s license suspension or revocation such person’s application may well be denied or not renewed.
It is imperative if you are a pilot that you take immediate action to properly determine whether you have a duty to notify the FAA. The attorneys at Seawell and Buckmelter, PC are well versed in the requirements for pilots under the FAA’s regulations and will help you at every step of the process to ensure that your rights to both drive and fly are protected. In some circumstances simply the failure to report the action of the DMV suspending, revoking or canceling your license or the conviction of an alcohol or drug-related offense in court can cause the suspension of your certification or denial of your application for certification with the FAA for a year.
In addition to possible revocation or suspension of FAA certification for alcohol-related driving offenses and administrative actions, pilots, flight instructors, and ground instructors can have their certification suspended or an application for certification denied for drug-related offenses.
14 CFR 61.15(a) provides that “a conviction for the violation of any Federal or State statute relating to the growing, processing, manufacture, sale, disposition, possession, transportation, or importation of narcotic drugs, marijuana, or depressant or stimulant drugs or substances is grounds for denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part for a period of up to 1 year after the date of final conviction; or suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part.
In light of these potentially career-ending implications from such drug and alcohol-related offenses, you need the assistance of qualified legal representation to assist you both in the criminal and administrative proceedings associated with such offenses but also with the significant administrative requirements of the FAA to avoid suspension, cancellation or denial of your FAA certification.