Are you a Pilot? If so, here are some DUI considerations you should know about.
Being a licensed pilot means that you are qualified to operate two kinds of motor vehicles: those confined to the ground, and aircraft. Under ordinary circumstances you can consider these two forms of transportation to be separate realms, but there is one aspect in which they can intersect and not in a good way: if you run afoul of drunk driving laws, in Oklahoma or elsewhere.
From a legal perspective, being pulled over for a DUI offense has its own potential ramifications separate from your status as a pilot. These include traffic citations, legal sanctions in the form of fines and possible incarceration, and administrative sanctions such as license suspension, required participation in an alcohol treatment program, and the requirement to have an ignition interlock device placed on any cars that you drive. In a related sense, a DUI citation, arrest or conviction can also have a direct bearing on your pilot status: what we refer to here is the requirement for you to report any such incident to the Civil Aviation Security Division of the Federal Aviation Administration.
As a competent pilot, you are probably already aware of this “motor vehicle action” (MVA) reporting requirement, under which you have 60 days to inform the FAA for any alcohol or drug-related citation or arrest. What you may not be aware of, however, is that the dual criminal-administrative nature of drunk driving sanctions can constitute a trap for the unwary aviator when it comes to reporting MVAs.
The first thing to be aware of is how the FAA defines an MVA. It can occur in one of three ways:
- a court conviction for a DUI offense;
- suspension, cancellation or revocation of your driver’s license or in connection with DUI;
- having your application for a driver’s license denied in connection with DUI.
Any of these will trigger the 60-day reporting requirement. The trap lies in the dual criminal/administrative character of motor vehicle DUI laws. Assume that you are convicted of a DUI offense in Oklahoma. You will have 60 days after the date of conviction to report the MVA to the FDA. You may think that you are done with the reporting requirement, but you are not. That is because in addition to the criminal law conviction you will also be subject to an administrative license suspension, which will trigger an additional 60 day MVA reporting requirement. Miss either one of these, and it could have a serious ramification on your ability to keep your airman’s certificate.
It may not seem fair to have to report to the FAA twice for the same underlying DUI matter, but unless and until the relevant federal regulation changes you will be subject to such a dual reporting requirement unless you and your defense attorney are able to secure an acquittal from the DUI charge or are otherwise able to avoid any administrative sanctions.
Defending yourself against a DUI is reason enough to secure the assistance of an experienced Oklahoma drunk driving defense attorney. If you have a pilot’s license, this need can become even more acute if you want to avoid having one or more MVA reports to have to send the FAA.