Aeromedical Report—Reporting Driving Offenses Related to Substance Use
Air Line Pilot, May 2001, p. 5
By Dr. Keith Martin, ALPA Associate Aeromedical Advisor
ALPA’s Aeromedical office continues to receive numerous calls regarding reporting of offenses related to driving under the influence of some substance, or DUIs. Every pilot should be aware of his or her responsibilities related to reporting such offenses. This information continues to be important for each individual who holds an FAA airman medical certificate. Changes in the FAA medical standards found in Federal Aviation Regulations Part 67 have affected the guidance of the Federal Air Surgeon (FAS) to your aviation medical examiner (AME).
Federal Aviation Regulations Parts 67.107, 67.207, 67.307
To hold an airman medical certificate, a pilot must meet the following standards:
"(b) No substance abuse within the preceding 2 years defined as:
"(1) Use of a substance in a situation in which that use was physically hazardous, if there has been at any other time an instance of the use of a substance also in a situation in which that use was physically hazardous."
A "substance" is defined in the regulation as "Alcohol; other sedatives and hypnotics; anxiolytics; opioids; central nervous system stimulants such as cocaine, amphetamines, and similarly acting sympathomimetics; hallucinogens; phencyclidine or similarly acting arylcyclohexylamines; cannabis; inhalants; and other psychoactive drugs and chemicals."
The FAS has determined that a conviction or administrative action related to driving and alcohol use (DUI, DWI, etc.) would be considered "a situation in which that use was physically hazardous." The FAS has instructed all AMEs to defer issuing an airman medical certificate when a pilot reports a second offense on an FAA application. The deferral generally results in a request for a drug and alcohol abuse evaluation from the FAA Airman Medical Certification Division in Oklahoma City. If the evaluation finds no diagnosis of drug or alcohol abuse/dependence, the FAA will issue the airman medical certificate. This process can be time-consuming (6–10 weeks) during which time an airman will be without a medical certificate.
Any ALPA member involved in a driving offense related to alcohol or drugs may want to contact the Aeromedical Office for help—we may be able to help prevent such delays at the time of the pilot’s next FAA medical exam. Remember, every situation is different.
FAR Part 61.15–Offenses involving alcohol
"(c)…a motor vehicle action means:
"(1) A conviction after November 29, 1990, for the violation of any Federal or State statute relating to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a drug, while impaired by alcohol or a drug, or while under the influence of alcohol or a drug;
"(2) The cancellation, suspension, or revocation of a license to operate a motor vehicle after November 29, 1990, for a cause related to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a drug, while impaired by alcohol or a drug, or while under the influence of alcohol or a drug; or
"(3) The denial after November 29, 1990, of an application for a license to operate a motor vehicle for a cause related to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated by alcohol or a drug, while impaired by alcohol or a drug, or while under the influence of alcohol or a drug.
"(e) Except for a motor vehicle action that results from the same incident or arises out of the same factual circumstances, a motor vehicle action occurring within 3 years of a previous motor vehicle action is grounds for:
"(1) Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part for a period of up to 1 year after the date of the last motor vehicle action; or
"(2) Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part.
"(e) Each person holding a certificate issued under this part shall provide a written report of each motor vehicle action to the FAA, Civil Aviation Security Division (AAC-700), P.O. Box 25810, Oklahoma City, OK 73125, not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action. The report must include:
"(1) The person’s name, address, date of birth, and airman certificate number;
"(2) The type of violation that resulted in the conviction or the administrative action;
"(3) The date of the conviction or administrative action;
"(4) The State that holds the record of conviction or administrative action; and
"(5) A statement of whether the motor vehicle action resulted from the same incident or arose out of the same circumstances related to a previously reported motor vehicle action.
"(f) Failure to comply with paragraph (e) of this section is grounds for:
"(1) Denial of an application for any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part for a period of up to 1 year after the date of the motor vehicle action; or
"(2) Suspension or revocation of any certificate, rating, or authorization issued under this part."
We also recommend that this report be sent by means that can be documented (certified mail with return receipt, overnight mail, etc.). Additional information may be found on the FAA DUI/DWI homepage at http://www.mmac.jccbi.gov/cas/duidwi/index.html.
FAA Form 8500-8 (Application for Airman Medical Certificate)
"A Yes or No response is required for [answering] the following questions:
"V. History of
"(1) any conviction(s) involving driving while intoxicated by, while impaired by, or while under the influence of alcohol or a drug; or
"(2) history of any conviction(s) or administrative action(s) involving an offense(s) which resulted in the denial, suspension, cancellation, or revocation of driving privileges or which resulted in attendance at an educational or rehabilitation program."
Several important, often misunderstood, points about these reporting requirements follow:
You have two reporting responsibilities. The first is to report to the FAA Civil Aviation Security Division within 60 days. The second is to report on your FAA Application for Airman Medical Certificate at the time of your next physical examination.
If your driver’s license or privilege to drive is denied within any state, regardless of whether authorities physically confiscate your license, you will likely be required to report it to the FAA.
Court dates or hearings are often delayed for several months. For the FAA, if an administrative action was taken—for example, the state suspended your privilege to drive—you have 60 days from the action, not the court date or conviction date, to report it to the FAA Civil Aviation Security Division.
If required to attend an educational program, regardless of the offense or the outcome, you will have to report it during your next FAA physical exam.
If you are convicted later of a lesser offense, you will probably have to report it if the offense had anything to do with your using alcohol or a drug.
If the charge is dropped because you agreed to attend a short educational or rehabilitation program, you will still have to report this to the FAA.
Simple failure to report an incident, no matter how insignificant, is often the primary cause for FAA action. The FAA’s main concern is that of "alcohol or drug misuse, abuse, or dependence." A single incident, if properly reported, seldom results in FAA action.
W. Keith Martin, M.D., M.P.H., is an associate aeromedical advisor with ALPA’s Aeromedical Office, which is located in Aurora, Colo.