Menu

FAA reporting obligations following a DUI-type event

It’s a traditional legal maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” In the context of DUI reporting, it follows that it’s far better to know the regulations and comply than to make a bad situation worse by not knowing or ignoring your obligations.

There is a potential for three FAA reporting obligations following a DUI-type event (to include DWI, DWAI, OUI, etc.): two under 14 CFR (FAR) 61.15 and one on the Form 8500-8 Application for Airman Medical Certificate. Failure to report a reportable event can have serious consequences.

FAR 61.15(c)(1) together with 61.15(e) require that you notify the FAA Civil Aviation Security Division within 60 days of a conviction 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 under the influence of alcohol or a drug. FAR 61.15(c)(2) requires the same notification following the cancellation, suspension, or revocation of a license to operate a motor vehicle for cause related to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, impaired, or under the influence of alcohol or a drug. The report or reports, as necessary, must be sent to a specific address and contain specific information as stipulated in the regulation. It’s very important to note that you may have to submit more than one report for the same event, e.g., the suspension of your driver’s license that occurs at or shortly after your arrest and a conviction for the alcohol-related event that can sometimes occur many months later. To comply with the reporting obligation, you can write up your own report or use the form the FAA has posted on its website. Failure to make timely reports, as necessary, constitutes a violation of the FAA’s regulations and can lead to a suspension of your pilot certificate.

You are also required to report a DUI-type event on your next medical application (item 18v). As always, it’s advisable to read the medical application Form 8500-8, including the instructions, carefully. At first glance, 18v appears simple enough—it’s a yes or no question. However, it has been and continues to be a source of considerable confusion. Again, it must be read carefully. In 2008, the question was altered substantially. Prior versions did not include a reference to the word arrest. It now reads “History of (1) any arrest(s) and/or 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 arrest(s), and/or convictions(s), and/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.” The upshot of the change is that a DUI event needn’t result in a conviction to be reportable. Let me express it another way. Even if you are found not guilty or the charges are dropped, you are still required to answer yes to 18v if there was an arrest or if any of the other listed events occurred. Note, the question is not limited to actions on your driver’s license, but also requires an affirmative answer if your driving privileges in another state were affected. Failure to accurately report a DUI history on a medical application can lead to a charge of intentional falsification and which can produce a revocation of your pilot and medical certificates.

It’s important to understand that the reporting obligations under 61.15 and on the medical application form are distinct and separate. FAR 61.51 reports are made to the Security and Investigations Division and medical applications are submitted to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division. Reporting to one division does not relieve you of your obligation to report to the other, where appropriate.

In sum, due to the varying reporting obligations and the potential for confusion, we encourage AOPA Pilot Protection Services members to call us to discuss DUI related issues.

It’s a traditional legal maxim that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” In the context of DUI reporting, it follows that it’s far better to know the regulations and comply than to make a bad situation worse by not knowing or ignoring your obligations.

There is a potential for three FAA reporting obligations following a DUI-type event (to include DWI, DWAI, OUI, etc.): two under 14 CFR (FAR) 61.15 and one on the Form 8500-8 Application for Airman Medical Certificate. Failure to report a reportable event can have serious consequences.

FAR 61.15(c)(1) together with 61.15(e) require that you notify the FAA Civil Aviation Security Division within 60 days of a conviction 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 under the influence of alcohol or a drug. FAR 61.15(c)(2) requires the same notification following the cancellation, suspension, or revocation of a license to operate a motor vehicle for cause related to the operation of a motor vehicle while intoxicated, impaired, or under the influence of alcohol or a drug. The report or reports, as necessary, must be sent to a specific address and contain specific information as stipulated in the regulation. It’s very important to note that you may have to submit more than one report for the same event, e.g., the suspension of your driver’s license that occurs at or shortly after your arrest and a conviction for the alcohol-related event that can sometimes occur many months later. To comply with the reporting obligation, you can write up your own report or use the form the FAA has posted on its website. Failure to make timely reports, as necessary, constitutes a violation of the FAA’s regulations and can lead to a suspension of your pilot certificate.

You are also required to report a DUI-type event on your next medical application (item 18v). As always, it’s advisable to read the medical application Form 8500-8, including the instructions, carefully. At first glance, 18v appears simple enough—it’s a yes or no question. However, it has been and continues to be a source of considerable confusion. Again, it must be read carefully. In 2008, the question was altered substantially. Prior versions did not include a reference to the word arrest. It now reads “History of (1) any arrest(s) and/or 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 arrest(s), and/or convictions(s), and/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.” The upshot of the change is that a DUI event needn’t result in a conviction to be reportable. Let me express it another way. Even if you are found not guilty or the charges are dropped, you are still required to answer yes to 18v if there was an arrest or if any of the other listed events occurred. Note, the question is not limited to actions on your driver’s license, but also requires an affirmative answer if your driving privileges in another state were affected. Failure to accurately report a DUI history on a medical application can lead to a charge of intentional falsification and which can produce a revocation of your pilot and medical certificates.

It’s important to understand that the reporting obligations under 61.15 and on the medical application form are distinct and separate. FAR 61.51 reports are made to the Security and Investigations Division and medical applications are submitted to the Aerospace Medical Certification Division. Reporting to one division does not relieve you of your obligation to report to the other, where appropriate.

In sum, due to the varying reporting obligations and the potential for confusion, we encourage AOPA Pilot Protection Services members to call us to discuss DUI related issues.

Mike Yodice

Mr. Yodice has been a pilot since 1979. He took instruction at the historic College Park (MD) airport and co-owns a Piper Cherokee and flies the family Piper J3-Cub.

Related Articles