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How Will a California DUI Affect My Pilot’s License?

 Posted on February 15, 2024 in DUI

Blog ImageIf you are a pilot who lives in California or who is visiting the state, and you have been arrested and charged with DUI, it is important to understand the potential impact these charges may have on your career. Driving under the influence (DUI) is not only a serious criminal offense, but it can also have severe consequences for professional license holders, including pilots who fly planes or other aircraft for a living. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has strict regulations regarding disclosures of alcohol-related offenses, and it may take disciplinary action against pilots who violate these rules. To defend against the loss of your pilot’s license, you can work with an attorney who has experience representing pilots and others who have been charged with DUI.

FAA Disclosures

As an aviation professional, you are required by law to report any motor vehicle actions involving alcohol or drugs to the FAA. Applicable motor vehicle actions include DUI convictions as well as administrative license suspension or revocation actions. Even if you are not convicted of DUI, you must report license suspensions following the failure of a chemical blood alcohol test or the refusal to take a chemical test

A notification letter must be sent to the FAA within 60 days of a motor vehicle action. Failure to send a notification letter when required may lead to the suspension or revocation of a pilot’s license or any other certification or rating issued by the FAA. The FAA may also choose to deny an application for a pilot’s license, certificate or rating for up to one year after an applicable motor vehicle action.

When applying for medical certification or renewing your existing certificate, you will be asked about previous arrests related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. It is crucial to provide accurate information in these applications. False statements can result in penalties such as fines, the revocation of your pilot’s license, or a denial of medical certification.

Restrictions on Flying While Under the Influence

Pilots should also be aware of restrictions that apply if they have consumed alcohol or used drugs. These restrictions specify the amount of time that a pilot must abstain from consuming alcohol before operating an aircraft. As per federal regulations:

  • Civil aircraft pilots or other crew members must not consume any alcoholic beverage for at least eight hours before their scheduled duty period.

  • Pilots are prohibited from flying while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Pilots are prohibited from flying if they have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.04 percent or higher.

These regulations aim to ensure that pilots are fit for duty and can safely operate an aircraft without impairments caused by alcohol consumption.

Consequences and Penalties

If you fail to disclose a DUI arrest or conviction, if the FAA discovers the offense through other means, or if you are charged with flying under the influence you may face disciplinary action. The specific penalties depend on various factors such as the frequency and severity of the violation, whether it was a one-time incident or part of a pattern of misconduct, and whether there were any aggravating circumstances involved, such as piloting while intoxicated.

The potential consequences include:

  • Suspension - Your pilot's license may be suspended for a specified period. This suspension can range from several months to years depending on the seriousness of the offense.

  • Revocation - In more severe cases involving aggravating circumstances or multiple offenses, your pilot's license may be revoked permanently

  • Denial of renewal - A DUI conviction may result in the FAA’s refusal to renew your pilot’s license or a certificate or rating for up to one year after the incident in question.

  • Addiction treatment programs - The FAA is committed to assisting people who are struggling with substance abuse problems. If you voluntarily seek help through an approved treatment program and successfully complete it, this could have a positive impact on your case.

Seek Legal Guidance

If you are facing DUI charges in California as a licensed pilot, it is crucial to consult with an experienced attorney who understands both criminal defense law and aviation regulations. An attorney can guide you through the legal process, protect your rights, and help mitigate any potential consequences on your pilot's license.

By working with an attorney who focuses on aviation law or has experience with DUI cases involving pilots, you can develop a strong defense strategy tailored to your unique circumstances. At Burglin Law Offices, P.C., we will work with you to ensure that all necessary disclosures are made to the FAA while advocating for the best possible outcome in your case.

Contact Our San Francisco DUI and Pilot’s License Defense Attorney

If you are concerned about how DUI charges or other related issues may affect your pilot’s license, contact our experienced Napa DUI lawyer at 415-729-7300. We offer comprehensive legal representation, and we can help guide you through the challenging process of defending against a DUI conviction and protecting your career. Call now for a free consultation.

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