Pilots and DUI’s

Any DUI related administrative or court action against a pilot, can result in the loss of a pilot’s license, FAA clearance, and employment.  Pilots must answer to both their employer and to the FAA.  A pilot can be denied an aviation medical certificate for a DUI which will prevent the use of a pilot certificate. Company policies are usually very strict surrounding alcohol use.

FAA Reporting Requirement

Under 14 CFR Part 61, you must report alcohol and/or drug related administrative actions, whether a conviction took place or not. Arrests, administrative actions and convictions are also reportable under Part 67, the pilot application for a medical certificate.

Reporting Arrests, Convictions, and Administrative Actions

You must report any DUI’s on the medical application form.  You must also report any arrests, convictions, and administrative actions to the FAA within 60 days of their occurrence, Failure to report a DUI or admin action (DUI Admin Per Se Action) can result in the revocation of current medical certificates and FAA pilot certifications. 

Under 14 CFR 61.15, all pilots must send a Notification Letter to FAA’s Security and Investigations Division 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).

Notification Letters

Pilots must send a Notification Letter for the suspension, then send a second Notification Letter if the alcohol and/or drug related offense results in a conviction. Even though the Pilot sends two notification letters, FAA views the suspension and conviction as one alcohol and/or drug related incident.

Reportable DUI 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

Reportable DUI Convictions (Not a comprehensive list)

  • Driving Under the Influence (DUI)
  • Driving While Impaired (DWI)
  • Driving with an Unlawful Blood Alcohol Level
  • Operating While Under the Influence (OWUI)

Failure to Send a Notification Letter

Failure to send a Notification Letter within 60 days to FAA’s Security & Investigations Division is grounds for:

  • Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this regulation for up to one year after the date of the motor vehicle action
  • Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this regulation

DMV Mandatory Reporting

FAA Form 8500-8 “Application for Airmen Medical” contains an express consent provision which authorizes the National Driver Register (NDR) to release information about your driving record to FAA. Information on the NDR record will contain pointers to states that keep a driving history on you. FAA will obtain applicable records to determine if you have a reportable alcohol and/or drug related MVA.

Aviation Medical Exams

An applicant for a pilot’s certificate must pass a medical exam successfully.  An applicant may pass the exam with a previous DUI on his or her record, but not without being examined by the FAA. Pilots must report any history of arrests, convictions or other administrative action on their medical exam application.  Pilot’s must also provide details regarding a history of any substance abuse, including alcohol on their application.  The FAA obtains driving records for medical applicants, and if they find out you weren’t forthcoming on your medical application, they will likely deny or revoke it, along with any pilot certificates you may hold.

Pilot’s First DUI

A single DUI is not always a reason for the aviation medical examiner or the FAA to deny you a medical certificate, but your medical application might not be approved immediately.  Instead, it might be deferred to the FAA for review and will take longer to process. In the end, you will probably not be denied a medical certificate if all the paperwork is done correctly.

Medical Examiner’s Discretion

If you received a DUI with a blood alcohol content less than 0.15%, you never refused a chemical test, you reported the DUI to the FAA, and you have had no other convictions, the medical examiner has the authority to issue an aviation medical certificate without involving the FAA.  Additionally, you will have to prove that you do not have a substance abuse problem and have kept a perfect record.  You will have to provide the examiner with all requested documentation, including court records and reports, a detailed history of your alcohol abuse and all alcohol related incidents occurring within 14 days of your exam.

No Medical Examiner Discretion

In the following cases, your examiner will not be able to issue a medical certificate even with one DUI and must defer your case to the FAA: 

  • Your blood alcohol content was above 0.15%
  • You are unable to provide documentation within 14 days
  • You refused to submit to a blood alcohol test
  • You had other arrests, convictions or corrective actions within preceding two years
  • You’ve been arrested three or more times in your lifetime
  • You’ve had two arrests, convictions or corrective actions in the previous ten years.

FAA Deferral

Even if you are deferred to the FAA for review, you may still get your medical certificate approved.  It would be strongly recommended that you consult with an aviation attorney to help navigate you through the FAA paperwork because some deferments will be approved and some will be denied.

Pilots With Two or More DUI’s

Multiple DUI’s are problematic for your medical certification because the FAA views this as habitual problem having to do with addiction or alcohol abuse.  You will not be issued a medical certificate if you have more than one DUI because the case must be sent to the FAA for review. 


FAA website regarding DUI requirements


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