How a DUI Conviction can Affect Your Pilot's License in Roswell-Alpharetta, GA

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You could be a pilot who flies commercially or a pilot who flies privately -- whether for recreational purposes or not -- and get a DUI in Roswell-Alpharetta GA. If you are convicted of the DUI, your pilot's license could be called into question. An experienced Roswell-Alpharetta DUI attorney can help you through your DUI case and assist you with preservation of your pilot's license.

Georgia DUIs & FAA Considerations regarding your Pilot's Licenses

How a DUI conviction impacts one's ability to obtain or maintain a pilot's license depends on a number of different circumstances. Some of the factors the Federal Aviation Administration considers are:

  • Your DUI conviction history (when & how many)
  • DUI-related license revocation
  • Denial of a driver's license due to an alcohol-related event
  • The amount of alcohol present in the blood, breath, or urine sample.

The rules are fact-specific, so any impact a DUI has on a person's pilot license will vary case-by-case according to the unique facts of those cases. Some of the more common scenarios that transpire with DUIs and persons with pilot's licenses are discussed below.

Alpharetta-Roswell DUIs and Pilot License Applications

To obtain and maintain a pilot's license, one must obtain an Aviation Medical Examination (AME). Included in the AME are questions about prior DUI charges and convictions. If someone has prior DUI convictions at the time of the pilot license application, a DUI charge or conviction could impact the decision to grant (or not) a pilot license application.

Past DUI History that Does Not Impact Your Pilot License

As of September 2017, a single DUI arrest, conviction, or license revocation, cancellation, or suspension occurring five or more years ago, with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of less than 0.15 percent is not a bar to obtaining approval. Examiners are instructed to examine and interview the applicant to determine if there is current or historical evidence of substance abuse or dependency. When evidence fo the same is not present, the examiner submits a form, along with a copy of the BAC for FAA retention in the applicant's file.

There are other situations where the medical examiner may be required to provide additional information, but the applicant is not barred from passing the medical exam. These situations include:

  • A single event less than five years ago, or
  • A single event at any time with an unknown BAC, a refusal to test, and/or a BAC over 0.15.

Past DUI History that Impacts Your Pilot License

In some circumstances, the medical examiner is not authorized to issue approval. In those cases, the examiner submits the data to the FAA directly to review and follow-up. These situations include:

  • a situation where there have been two or more events over the course of the airman's life, or
  • a documented history of dependence or substance use disorder.

However, even in these cases, the past is not a complete bar to a maintaining, obtaining, or renewing a pilot's license.

Georgia DUIs and Persons Holding a Valid Certificate

Under 14 CFR 61.15, the following situations require mandatory reporting:

  • a criminal conviction under state or federal law for operating a motor vehicle while:
    • intoxicated by alcohol or drug
    • impaired by alcohol or drugs, or
    • under the influence of alcohol or a drug.
  • the cancellation, suspension, or revocation of a license to drive related to operating a motor vehicle while:
    • intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
    • impaired by alcohol or drugs, or
    • under the influence of alcohol or a drug.
  • the denial of an application for a driver's license due to operating a motor vehicle while:
    • intoxicated by alcohol or drugs
    • impaired by alcohol or drugs, or
    • under the influence of alcohol or a drug.

It is important to understand the FAA does not distinguish between cases where a person's test result was over the legal limit, and cases where the person refused to comply with testing. Both of these situations qualify for mandatory reporting purposes.

Under the law, anyone holding a certificate is required to provide a written report to the FAA within 60 days of the event. The report must include:

  • the person's name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • airman certificate number
  • the type of violation
  • the date of conviction or administrative action, and
  • state of conviction or administrative action.

Failure to self-report is considered grounds for either a denial of the application for a certificate, rating, or authorization for up to one year after the date of the conviction or administrative action, or the suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization previously issued.

Subsequent Georgia DUI Offenses & Pilot Licenses

A second or subsequent DUI offense also requires reporting the incident to the FAA. When there is a second DUI incident within three years of a previous incident, including (1) a conviction; (2) license revocation, suspension, or cancellation; or (3) a denial of a driver's license, there are grounds for either:

  • denial of an application for a certificate, rating, or authorization issued under the section for up to one year after the date of the most recent action, or
  • suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization.

How an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help

An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide critical assistance in DUI cases. Because the FAA cares about both criminal convictions and driver's license consequences, both must be litigated promptly and thoroughly by someone with the skills necessary to do so. For instance,

  • If either the stop of the car or the detention of the driver was not solidly grounded in constitutional law, the entire case may be dismissed.
  • If the measurement of alcohol in the blood, breath, or urine is inaccurate, particularly if the test result was overstated as greater than 0.15 when, in fact, it was actually below 0.15, this critical information impacts not only criminal consequences and driving privileges, but also, possibly, one's ability to obtain or maintain a pilot's license.
  • If the collection practices contaminated the sample, or chain of custody cannot be established, it may be possible to get the case thrown out altogether.

Each case is different. Let the experienced North Fulton County DUI attorneys review the facts of your case, to determine the best defense for you. Contact us today at (404) 816-4440.

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