There may be no other more horrific near-death experience than that of an airplane crash or near crash. Airplane crashes, unlike automobiles, nearly always result in fatalities when falling from the sky or even while on the ground given their speeds while landing or attempting to land.
For these and other reasons, pilots are held to higher standards than a motorist, especially when it comes to a pilot DUI.
A pilot DWI or DUI refers to an alcohol-related motor vehicle offense that affects the pilot’s license, as well as that of a pilot charged with flying or attempting to fly while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Because the risks involved in flying an aircraft are so great, if you are a licensed pilot and are arrested for a DWI in New Hampshire, or any other state, there are certain steps you must take if you want to retain or be able to get your pilot’s license back at a future time.
Pilots and Alcohol
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the activities of pilots and the requirements for licensing. The FAA possesses the authority to revoke, suspend, or cancel your pilot’s license for a “motor vehicle action,” which includes a conviction for a DWI or any administrative action in which your driver’s license is suspended or revoked. This means that should you be found not guilty of a DWI, you could still be subject to having your pilot’s license suspended.
According to FAA regulations, a pilot may not fly an aircraft or be a crew member in a civil aircraft within 8 hours after consuming alcohol.
The blood alcohol content (BAC) limit for flying an aircraft is 0.04 percent, which is about one drink in an hour for a person weighing 160 pounds. The FAA prohibits you from flying an aircraft, attempting to fly one, or from becoming a crew member if your blood alcohol is greater than 0.04 percent, even if 8 hours have passed since you last consumed alcohol. Violation of this rule can result in having your pilot’s license suspended or revoked.
If you are tested and show a BAC of between 0.02 and 0.39 percent, while not a rules violation, FAA regulations will still prohibit you from performing any safety-sensitive duties until your BAC drops below 0.02. This includes flying an aircraft.
As an airline pilot, you are subject to random drug and alcohol testing, testing upon reasonable suspicion, or after an accident. If you are suspected of being under the influence while flying or attempting to fly, however, you are subject to being tested only under the “reasonable suspicion” standard. “Reasonable suspicion” can only be based on the direct observation of a trained supervisor and not upon a third party’s suspicion.