How a DUI affects your pilot’s license depends on whether you have already obtained a license or if you are planning on applying for one in the near future.
Applying for a Pilot’s License with a Past DUI
When you are applying for or renewing a pilot’s license, you must undergo a mandatory medical examination. On your exam application, you are required to report any past impaired driving charges as well as details regarding any sort of substance abuse, including alcohol and drugs like marijuana. If you don’t report it, they will find it – when they do, they might deny your license outright.
Just because you have a DUI does not mean you will be automatically denied. If your DUI happened a long time ago with no subsequent offenses, your BAC at the time was lower than .15, you never refused a blood test and you reported it to the FAA (in case of renewal), it is possible to have your medical examination approved without deference to an FAA investigation.
Also take note: if your DUI happened less than a year ago, you cannot apply for a pilot’s license.
How a DUI Can Affect Your Current Pilot’s License
If you are charged with DUI or have had your driver’s license revoked due to impaired driving charges, you have 60 days to report the charges to the FAA. Otherwise, you will face a formal investigation leading to revocation or suspension of your pilot’s license.
Now, all of this information is related to DUIs in vehicles other than planes – what if you get a DUI for flying high or drunk? That would be known as an FUI (Flying under the Influence) under FAA regulations. It is illegal for crew members of planes (private, commercial, whatever) to drink alcohol within eight hours of a flight and to have a BAC of .04 or higher. If you are caught flying under the influence, you could face fines, imprisonment and, of course, license revocation.
If you are facing charges of DUI in Colorado, a defense attorney can help you minimize the penalties.