A DWI can have consequences for anyone’s job or career. For someone who has a pilot’s license, a DWI conviction or administrative action in North Carolina can have a devastating impact.
That’s because any administrative action, including the pre-conviction suspension of a license, must be reported to the Federal Aviation Administration under 14 CFR 61.15. Two violations arising out of different incidents within 3 years is grounds for suspension, revocation or denial of a pilot certificate.
For example, if the airman’s driver license is suspended under North Carolina’s pre-conviction civil revocation law for either failing a blood or breath test or for refusing to submit to a test, the airman must send a Notification Letter to the FAA’s Security and Investigations Division within 60 days of the effective date of the administrative action.
Most people do not seek to contest the civil revocation of a license. But a holder of a pilot certificate or rating almost certainly should contest any and all issues related to a Driving While Impaired offense.
Importantly, failure to report is grounds under 61.15 for denial of an application, or suspension or revocation of any certificate or rating under the FAA’s administrative rules.
In addition, conviction of any drug offense, including even misdemeanor drug offenses, is grounds for denial of an airman’s certificate or rating, or suspension or revocation of the same.
As someone who has recently started training for a private pilot license, I’ve discovered that, contrary to Denzel Washington’s performance in Flight, being impaired while piloting does not result in better decisions and inverting a plane is probably not a wise idea.
Here in the real world, however, people make mistakes. Defending people involves not just defending them in a criminal setting, but understanding how to help preserve related licenses, certificates, ratings and privileges that they may hold as part of their livelihood.