FAA Medical Certification with a DUI

Lots of pilots and perspective pilots wonder if they can achieve FAA medical certification with a DUI . The long and short answer is: it depends. Unfortunately, there are too many variables to be able to say “yes” or “no.” The FAA will utilize any information that they can gather from a DUI event in order to determine if that airman fits into the disqualifying category of either “substance abuse” or “substance dependence” per 14 C.F.R. §67.107. For instance, one thing that the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine will look at carefully when considering approval for medical certification when an airman has been arrested for and/or convicted of a DUI is what the airman’s blood-alcohol-concentration (“BAC”) was at the time of the event. If the airman’s BAC was higher than .15%, that information usually tends to suggest to FAA medical personnel that that airman may suffer from alcohol “tolerance,” a disqualifying subset of “substance dependence” under the FARs. That’s not to say someone with a registered BAC under .15% couldn’t also be pegged as alcohol “tolerant”; instead, the FAA conducts an analysis of each alcohol related event on a case-to-case basis. The point, however, is that certain factors, including an elevated BAC, could be the piece of the puzzle that makes the FAA doctors deny an airman’s medical application.

Be careful, however, because an airman that has had a DUI where his or her BAC was over .15% doesn’t necessarily mean that that airman is completely ineligible for FAA medical certification. Instead, a careful analysis of an airman’s case and referral to qualified medical professionals could prove that that airman, while having had an elevated BAC in the past, does not necessarily qualify as a “substance abuser” or “dependent” under the FARs. Furthermore, even if the facts indicate that an airman is an “abuser” or “dependent” under the FARs, the airman can always apply for a special issuance authorization at the discretion of the FAA. Achieving FAA medical certification with a DUI is not impossible!

There are two key pieces of advice when and airman is attempting to achieve FAA medical certification with a DUI: 1) start early; 2) conduct a thorough case analysis with an aviation attorney. The Ison Law Firm always counsels airmen currently holding airman certificates (including student pilots) to be cognizant of the 60-day reporting requirement for qualifying motor vehicle actions; furthermore, The Ison Law Firm always suggests that new pilots and/or individuals that do not yet hold a medical certificate but are interested in starting flight training within a few months, to start early. If an airman’s medical application is deferred to the FAA for certification, it is empirical to note that the FAA could take months to evaluate your case, if that airman has a DUI. So, airmen should do themselves a favor and start early. Secondly, airmen should always consult with an aviation attorney if they’ve gotten a DUI. In that, an aviation attorney can help an airman determine if it is necessary to report an event under 14 C.F.R. §61.15, as well as how to report an event on the FAA medical application, FORM 8500. Also, a thorough case evaluation with an aviation attorney can help determine if the facts surrounding an airman’s DUI event is expected to be contrary to the FAA’s policy for airman certification.

Stop wondering if you can obtain FAA medical certification with a DUI! If you have a DUI on your record and are interested in FAA medical certification, contact the aviation attorney at The Ison Law Firm. The Pilot Lawyer at The Ison Law Firm is standing by to vector you through your FAA medical certification turbulence. Call 855-FAA-1215, today!

*No medical or legal advice is given, nor should be perceived, from this article.