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Airline pilots and drunk driving convictions: What happens?

| Sep 27, 2018 | Drunk Driving |

It’s not easy to become a commercial airline pilot. You need to log countless hours in the air and pass numerous tests before gaining the requisite experience to land a commercial airline pilot job. All this hard work, however, could be lost in an instant if you are convicted of a drunk driving offense.

Following a DUI arrest, airline pilots need to discuss the matter with their employers and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). While the DUI case proceeds in court, the pilot could be temporarily grounded. If the arrest ends in a conviction, most airlines will terminate the pilot. Even if the employer doesn’t terminate the pilot, however, the FAA may deny the pilot their aviation medical certificate. This means the pilot would no longer be able to fly.

A DUI or DWI conviction does not automatically result in the denial of an aviation medical certificate. If none of the following conditions apply, a pilot might be able to pass the medical exam without involving the FAA.

If one of these conditions exists, on the other hand, FAA involvement and additional FAA investigations are required if:

  • The pilot has been arrested more than two times.
  • The pilot has had two arrests, convictions or corrective actions within the last decade.
  • The pilot has had other convictions, arrests or corrective actions within the last two years.
  • The blood alcohol content of the pilot was over .15 percent.
  • The pilot refused to take a blood alcohol test.
  • The pilot didn’t give appropriate documents and information within 14 days.

After submitting to a special FAA exam, a pilot convicted of drunk driving could still receive his or her medical certificate in some cases – especially if it is the pilot’s first DUI or DWI offense. Nevertheless, a single offense will likely result in issuance delays.

If you are a pilot accused of DWI in North Carolina, it’s essential for the future of your career that you navigate your DWI defense strategically and carefully.

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