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San Francisco DUI Attorney Paul Burglin NCDD Journal Case Highlights - Taylor v. Huerta

Posted on in DUI

Loss of Pilot and Medical Certificates By FAA For Failure To Disclose Prior DUI Arrest
Taylor v. Huerta , ___ F.3d ___, (D.C. Cir. 2013) – Docket No. 12-1140
WL 3762896

Taylor submitted an application for a medical certificate using the FAA's online system, MedXPress. One of the questions asked him about any prior arrests and he answered “no" despite a previous DUI arrest in California (which, ironically, did not even result in a conviction). The FAA discovered the prior arrest on a background check and opened an investigation as to why it was not disclosed. He said he did not read the question carefully, was unaware that prior arrests were now being asked instead of just prior convictions, and that he had just hit a button that put a “no" answer to a number of questions all at once. The answers were submitted under penalty of perjury.

The Court rejected the contention that the omission was inadvertent, holding that “[a] defense of deliberate inattention fails where the applicant is attesting to events about which he has actual knowledge." [cite]. It then slapped him with this rebuke:

“Despite Taylor's melodramatic description of the button's significance, the reality is that it does not limit in any way the ability of applicants to read the questions carefully. The button does not obscure or hide the questions. To the contrary, the questions appear on the same screen as the button, and they can be read by anyone who can see the button. [cite]. The FAA's decision to provide this modest convenience, rather than requiring MedXPress users to click “yes" or “no" for each question individually, does not “entrap" applicants. Nor does MedXPress “downgrade" the questions' importance. It expressly requires the applicant to certify that “all... answers provided... on this application form are complete and true to the best of [his or her] knowledge." [cite] And it prominently highlights the possibility that false answers may expose the applicant to substantial criminal liability. [cite]."

EDITOR’S NOTE: This case demonstrates once again that the failure to truthfully answer questions on a professional license application is treated more harshly by licensing boards than disclosure of the underlying offense.

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