Pilot DUI and the FAA Process

Pilot DUI and the FAA Process

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Jackson Barnett

Principal Attorney

Report a DUI to the FAA

A Pilot DUI and the FAA Process is a topic with many concerns and questions for pilots of all levels. There are two important DUI reporting requirements for pilots. 

The first requirement is found at FAR 61.15, also known as a ‘Notification Letter’, which requires a pilot to report a “motor vehicle action” by submitting a Notification Letter to the FAA. 

The second requirement is disclosing a DUI arrest on the pilot medical application.

The FAA DUI Reporting Regulation

Under 14 CFR 61.15, all pilots must send a Notification Letter to the FAA within 60 calendar days of the effective date of an alcohol and/or drug related conviction or administrative action. In 14 CFR 61.15(c), alcohol and/or drug related convictions or administrative actions refer to motor vehicle actions (MVA).

A motor vehicle action is defined as “a cancellation, suspension or revocation of a license to operate a motor vehicle for a cause related to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a drug, while impaired or while under the influence of an alcohol or drugs.”

Examples of Reportable Administrative Actions (Not a comprehensive list)
-Revocation, suspension, or cancellation of driver license for:
Chemical test failure/Chemical test refusal
-Administrative per se orders
-10-day civil revocations
-Express consent revocation/suspension

Additionally, a second Notification Letter may need to be sent if the alcohol and/or drug related offense results in a conviction. Even though the airman may need to send two notification letters, FAA views the suspension and conviction as one alcohol and/or drug related incident.

Do I need to send a Notification Letter?

In many cases, there is no reporting requirement at all under Section 61.15. Examples include if the pilot’s driver’s license has not been suspended, or if the charges are later dropped to something that is not related to being under the influence, for example, reckless driving.

The FAA is serious about enforcing reporting requirements. FAA 61.15 goes on to say that if you have 2 motor vehicle actions within a 3-year period, the FAA can revoke or suspend your pilot’s license. That’s significant in that, if you’ve got one DUI, you need to avoid getting another one within 3 years.

The Medical Application

Equally important as a Notification Letter, is whether the event needs to be disclosed on the airman medical application, MedXpress Form 8500.

The medical application requires pilots to report both an arrest and/or conviction for:

  • a history of any arrests and/or conviction involving driving while being intoxicated by, while impaired by or while under the influence of alcohol or a drug, and
  • a history of any arrests and/or convictions and/or administrative actions involving an offence which resulted in the denial, suspension, cancellation or revocation of driving privileges or which resulted in attendance in an educational or rehabilitation program

Once you report an arrest and/or conviction on the MedXpress application, the Aviation Medical Examiner (AME) will determine if they can re-issue your medical. If the AME is not able to issue the medical certificate, it will be deferred to the Aviation Medical Certification Division (AMCD) for review. The deferral process can lead to numerous requests for information from the FAA, and possibly treatment or evaluations for substance related disorders.

Get Answers to Your Questions

Even with a single alcohol and/or drug related event, the FAA may open an investigation, propose certificate action like revoking your medical certificate, or request additional information regarding your medical qualifications. All very good reasons to contact an aviation attorney for a consultation.

Discuss your Pilot DUI and the FAA Process with an aviation attorney.
Call Barnett Law Offices 1-800-578-5512