Getting a FAA medical certificate with a misdemeanor on your record is not impossible. Oftentimes a single misdemeanor conviction may not be significant to your eligibility for FAA medical certification, meaning that deferral by your Aviation Medical Examiner (“AME”) won’t be warranted. The relevant consideration, however, is what the misdemeanor charge was for and how many convictions you have on your record. For instance, some drug and/or alcohol related misdemeanors may warrant further evaluation by the FAA Office of Aerospace Medicine’s Drug and Alcohol department. Whereas a single misdemeanor conviction for “petty theft” when you were a teenager may mean very little to the FAA. On the other hand, if you have numerous misdemeanor charges, no matter if they are drug and alcohol related, the FAA will likely inquire if the repeated offenses could have been caused by an underlying mental health disorder, such as a personality disorder.
There’s an important distinction when it comes to getting a FAA medical certificate with a misdemeanor. That distinction is whether you have been arrested for a misdemeanor crime versus whether you have been convicted of a misdemeanor crime. The FAA only requires you to report a non-traffic related misdemeanor conviction on your medical application at question 18w. That is, just because you’ve been arrested for a misdemeanor charge, but later not convicted of the crime, you do not have to report the offense on your FAA medical application; with one notable exception. If you were arrested for a misdemeanor charge which involved drugs or alcohol and which either involved driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol or which resulted in the denial, suspension, cancellation, or revocation of your driving privileges or which resulted in attendance at an educational or rehabilitative program, you will have to report the arrest at question 18v. Importantly, these are the only offenses which are reportable, even if you were not later convicted of the charge.
There are other things to consider regarding getting a FAA medical certificate with a misdemeanor. As discussed above, a conviction for a misdemeanor offense need only be reported on your FAA medical application, with one exception. This, however, begs the question of whether you’ve actually been convicted of the offense. Specifically, what you may need to figure out is whether your plea of “nolo contendere,” “no contest,” or if an “adjudication withheld,” is considered a conviction and required to be reported at question 18w.
While a single misdemeanor conviction, not related to drugs or alcohol, may not make it too difficult getting a FAA medical certificate, it will all depend on what the offense was, when it happened, and how many offenses there are. It is always important to be prepared when filling out an application, in case your history triggers a deferral by the AME to the FAA.
If you are having trouble getting a FAA medical certificate with a misdemeanor, call the FAA medical attorneys at The Ison Law Firm. We can help you assess whether your charge needs to be reported on your next FAA medical certificate, or if you should have reported your misdemeanor on a previous medical application. Then, we can work with you and the FAA to establish your eligibility for medical certification, despite your misdemeanor.
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