Being a pilot is stressful work. It requires a ton of education, discipline and the knowledge that the lives of every crew member and passenger are in your hands. Because of these reasons (and plenty of others), there are very strict rules against pilots drinking alcohol while working.
But of course, where there’s a rule, there will always be someone ready to smash it to bits with a hammer. At the end of this past August, a charter plane pilot taking off from a northern Michigan airport was turned in by his whistleblowing co-pilot, who suspected that the pilot might’ve been less-than-sober. Given that the pilot blew a 0.30, we wonder what it was that tipped his co-pilot off. A couple more sips and the pilot would have had a BAC of four times the legal limit for driving (0.08) and an alarming 16 times the legal limit for flying (0.02).
Are Drunk Pilots Common?
If you follow the news often, it seems like drunk pilots are common. This is not the case. There are very strict rules and guidelines governing substance testing for pilots that keep most pilots from drinking and flying, including random testing. The reason you hear about it in the news is not because it’s common, but because it is noteworthy. Last year, there were only 10 reports of pilot alcohol violations under the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Workplace Drug and Alcohol Testing Program.
Eight Hours from Bottle to Throttle: What If I Am Accused of Drunk Flying?
Flights often traverse state lines, so the penalties for flying under the influence can vary widely. However, no matter where you are accused of drunk flying, you can expect to face penalties such as jail time, fines, required alcohol education class and revocation of flying privileges. The best way to have a sentence reduced or dismissed in these cases would be to discuss your charges with an attorney.