Can I become an airline pilot with a dui?

Just wanted to say how much respect I have for the mentors and the patience you all have. I just spent the last 30 minutes reading this thread (finding every excuse I can to procrastinate studying haha,) and I had my own hiring questions regarding criminal records not too long ago. I don’t know how you guys do it every day. I’m surprised this is a forum is free and I am grateful it is.

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Robin,

Thanks for the kind words. I’m glad it’s helped you along your way. I’ve been lucky to have family and neighbors in the industry to mentor me but know that most people wanting to pursue this career don’t have that. If we can help one person a day, it’s totally worth the time and energy :slight_smile:

Hannah

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Thank you Robin.

If you’ve read thorough many of these posts you probably noticed some of us are less patient then others :wink:

As Hannah said if I can help one person get to where I am (which is pretty great) it’s worth it.

Adam

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It really seems like the best job in the world. I can’t wait to make it.

Robin,

That you, it is nice to know that what we do here is appreciated. Please let us know how we can help you along the way.

Chris

Robin,

Without this forum, I may have overlooked ATP because I did not know where to start. The mentors (and admins) here are awesome in all they do and I’ve been personally thankful for them and this forum. Please ask any and all questions you may have that we can be an assistance of.

Brady

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Howdy y’all,

Thank you to all the pilots/pilot mentors who have contributed to this thread already. I am hoping to get some advice specific to my situation and I thank y’all ahead of time for the help.

So I’m currently 21, October birthday, and when I was 18 I was arrested for a DWI in the state of Texas, when I drove from my friends house to his neighborhood park where an officer just so happened to be. I refused breathalyzer, refused field sobriety test, was taken into the magistrate where I was given a court order for a blood test, which came back at .181, more than double the legal limit. In the end I took a plea deal to defer the conviction to obstruction of a roadway, the deal included 2 years of probation, community service, having a breathalyzer in my car for a year, and monthly reports, all whilst attending college. In that time I met all my requirements, never failing a breathalyzer or drug test and as such my charge was deferred down to obstruction. At the end of my probation period last June, I opted to check myself into an in patient rehab center for addiction, I stayed for 28 days until my insurance cut out, and then completed an out patient program over the course of the following 3 months. I did so whilst staying in a sober living home where I lived for 9 months. I have since moved out on my own and have nearly 14 months completely sober and don’t plan on turning back. I have a distant family member who is an airline pilot for a major and should probably ask him but I’m the meantime I want to ask y’all to flesh out these thoughts. I also met a friend in my treatment facility who was a pilot then there was a complaint filed against him for drug abuse, and the FAA told him to go through treatment to keep his license, he did so and is now back to piloting, so I should probably ask him too, but in the meantime these are my questions.

Is it easier to keep your job after a DUI, than it is to get a new job or become a new pilot with an old DUI?

My main question is do I have to detail anything beyond my actual DWI arrest? If so, what?

How does the FAA investigation work, specifically what all are they able to see regarding the case?

Would indicating that I went to treatment and am x years sober be beneficial?

Is the pilot deficiency within the industry still a problem, meaning is there still the leniency of years prior when hiring? If so what is the outlook for the coming years at which point I may actually have my license?

Overall what are my chances, and how might the timeline look?

Oh one final note that I forgot about, the last time I got a background check when I got a job at Tesla, my obstruction/DWI charge did not show up. But what did show up was a misdemeanor drivers license violation from when I was 17, and I had 3 friends in the car(at least in Texas if you have your driver’s license under 18, you can only have 1 passenger under the age of 21 in the car with you at a time).

Marc,

This question gets asked frequently and the answer is always the same. The best thing you can do is put time between yourself and the arrest.

As I see it you have 2 issues. First 14mos isn’t alot of time. Second the FAA REALLY doesn’t like refusals to test and pretty much consider it the worst thing you can do aside from killing someone. That all said your biggest obstacle will probably be getting your medical. The FAA will defer your medical, they will see your refusal and your BAC level. Then it’s in their hands. It will take time and money.

If you do get a medical AND you remain clean AND you do well in training you should be able to get to a Regional. It may be tougher to get to a Major but that won’t be for years and your time sober could work in your favor but it might not. Long short it really could go either way.

Adam

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Adam,

Thank you for the quick reply!

I understand 14 months isn’t much but God willing as you mentioned over the time it takes to get licensed it should grow significantly. As for the refusal, that really sucks hindsight is in fact 20/20, I assume that despite the police eventually getting a test via blood, the refusal is still an issue? This might be a question for a lawyer but is there any way you would recommend that I can check and see what the FAA, might see during their investigation?

Also with regards to getting this medical, I’m a little confused attempted some googling to no avail. So I figured while I have y’all here I may as well just ask you, in terms of the timeline of getting a pilot’s license/cert where does the medical come into play? Is it a different level of medical license(I saw mention to first class) to go along with the various levels of pilot certs? Am I able to just go pay the $150 or so to go to the medical examiner and try my luck prior to spending the large amounts of money on training hours? Or do I first need to be licensed? I understand the majority of people here on this thread hope to be an airline transport pilot, but what if I was aiming at just being a commercial pilot or maybe even a helicopter pilot are the chances any better?

Thanks again,
Marc

Marc,

First off FAA stands for Federal Aviation Administration. The key word there is FEDERAL. My Katz’s deli ads pop up when my phone hears me say the word pastrami, you don’t think the Federal govt has access to ALL your records? Further if you do slip through the cracks it will inevitably show up at some point which will make things worse. On your medical application it will ask for details and you should be honest. Failure to do so will cause you issues down the line.

As for a medical technically you’re correct. You only need a Third Class medical to train, however wouldn’t you want to know before you invest $90k in training if you’ll have an issue? This is why ATP requires all new students to get their First Class medical. They don’t want them waiting their time and money.

Adam

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Adam,

Thank you again for your quick reply and insight. I did a little more research which suggests that with a prior offense or substance abuse/alcoholism of any sort attempting to get your medical with less than 2 years of abstinence is automatically disqualifying, so with that in mind as well as your recommendation that I need more time between my offense. I think I will put flying planes on the back burner while I continue to accrue time, jump out of planes and go to school. Hopefully I can revive the dream sometime later down the line.

I really appreciate the insight and quick replies, I wish you the best🙏

Marc

Marc,

I would take any information you’ve found with a grain of salt. No one but an AME (Aviation Medical Examiner) can say for certain. I would contact one for a consultation and see what they say.

Adam

Adam,

So the info I found actually came from the FAA website I’ll link it here https://www.faa.gov/about/office_org/headquarters_offices/avs/offices/aam/ame/guide/standards/

When you scroll down it doesn’t mention DUI, but does talk about substance abuse/dependence, so maybe there’s a chance I can slide by if I were to not mention my medical history, and the DUI was the only point of concern, but I’d rather give it all some extra time and be as honest and open as possible when I give it a shot.

With that being said, I will look to contact an AME for further clarification.

Thank you one more time lol,
Marc

This is what the FAA will ask, and yes, they will want to know everything about your DUI arrest and your time in whatever facility you were at. Honestly, I see this being a huge uphill battle for you. The airlines and the FAA do not like substance abuse and you are showing a pattern of just that. There is no sliding by with the FAA.

Chris

Chris,

Yeah I figured as much. I think because my time in treatment facilities and outpatient programs, was of my own doing that it wouldn’t show up anywhere in an investigation (though maybe it would) and at the end of the day I may be able to just not mention it and maintain that my one arrest for DWI is my only instance of concern. Though to be honest I would prefer to be entirely transparent and would have hoped that that transparency would work for me rather than against me, and from what I’ve read it could go either way.

I agree it seems like an upward battle, but I think my first leg of the battle would be just to stack up more time both in recovery/100% sober, and since my dwi. Once I have at least 2 years sober and 3-5 years since DWI which will both occur in another year, then I will try my hand at starting the process with the FAA.

Thanks you for your consideration!

Marc