Reporting a Possession Conviction on your FAA Medical Application?

  • ON Jan 10, 2022
  • /
  • BY Anthony Ison
  • /
  • IN Pilot Law

Are you reporting a possession conviction on your FAA medical application? If you are reporting a history of a conviction for possession of an illegal substance (marijuana, cocaine, etc) for the first time on your FAA medical application, your medical application will be deferred by your Aviation Medical Examiner (“AME”). Once your application is deferred, you can expect to receive a letter from the FAA in Oklahoma City – based on our experience, it can take anywhere from a week to over a month to receive correspondence following a deferral. Usually, the FAA’s first letter will request a copy of the narrative police report from the arrest, a copy of the relevant court records, a copy of your driving record, and a statement from you regarding your history of drug use. Be careful, however, as the FAA will typically include a very important request in this initial letter: a request for a drug test to be conducted within 48-hours of receiving the letter. Typically, this letter will come via USPS certified mail and the FAA will know when you received the letter. Be careful that you know who is signing for your mail – if your wife, parent, grandparent, maid, or friend from out of town, is signing for your mail, just know that the 48-hour clock starts once somebody signs for the letter. Do not fail this drug test.

Reporting a possession conviction on your FAA medical application does not have to result in a denial of your application. While you may have to establish ongoing sobriety through monitoring, a singular conviction for possession usually does not result in an airman not being able to fly. Depending on when the charge occurred, the circumstances of the charge, and whether you have discontinued use of illegal substances, the FAA may find you eligible for a regularly issued medical certificate or for a special issuance authorization. If the FAA feels a special issuance authorization is necessary, the “hoops” you will have to jump through to achieve and maintain a medical certificate will depend on whether the FAA determines you have “substance abuse” or “substance dependence.”  A special issuance for “substance abuse” includes a short-term monitoring plan with a HIMS AME. Certain aggravating factors may contribute to the FAA making a determination that you have “substance dependence” and requiring a more aggressive monitoring plan and proof of “recovery.” As a result, it is important to consult with someone who has knowledge of the airman medical certification process prior to submitting any documentation to the FAA for review.

Why involve a FAA medical attorney when you are reporting a possession conviction? Despite what you may hear from your AME, the medical certification process is more so a legal process than a medical process. Ensuring that the appropriate documentation is being developed is critical to either avoiding a monitoring program or limiting the extent to which the FAA will require monitoring. To that end, everything that is submitted to the FAA (i.e. records, statements, evaluations, etc.) goes into your airman medical file. The FAA attorneys at The Ison Law Firm are here to guide you through the process.

Are you reporting a possession conviction on your FAA medical application? Call the FAA attorneys at The Ison Law Firm. We are happy to evaluate your case and discuss with you a plan for presenting your case for consideration by the Federal Air Surgeon. Aviation law is all we do. Nothing else.

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