Getting a Job / Medical with a Misdemeanor on my record

This is my first post on this forum, and I’m sure something like this has been asked on here before; but every case is different so I would like to give as much context to my specific issue as possible. I’ve been digging through multiple forums like JetCareers and Airline Pilot Central and the general concensus is that I am probably OK as long as I have a clean slate from now on.

I will attempt to make this as brief as I can… I am a 22 year old Senior at Ole Miss and although I have been in love with aviation since I was a kid (my dad flies for Delta), I didn’t think it is what I wanted to do until recently. My parents bought an airplane for me to build time and get ratings. So after 6 hours, my instructor, who also instructed my father, thought that I was about ready to solo and suggested I go get a medical.

So on Tuesday I went for my first medical (class 3), and as we all know, the FAA asks for anything you’ve ever been convicted of… so about 3-4 months prior to my 21st (1.5 years ago), I got caught up in a kind of bizarre circumstance due to an error in judgement and a lack of maturity, and got popped with a minor in possession of alcohol charge. It’s a misdemeanor, I wasn’t arrested, and I was NOT in a vehicle. I was standing still in a concert with an empty cup (which are the same cups used for every beverage - alc. and non-alc), was approached by an ABC agent who snatched the cup out of my hand, smelled it, and wrote me a citation. The agent never had any evidence other than anecdotal that it actually was alcohol, which he claimed was something different that what I had. I hired a lawyer to fight it, and when the lawyer read the report, he said that the ABC agent had written the report in a way that the judge would never consider ruling in our favor. In the end, I was a college kid in a college town, so I was guilty no matter what. I heeded his suggestion and I decided to plead guilty and pay the fine in order to be eligible for expungement. I work part time and paid the citation out of my pocket.

So in reference to the medical application form, I didn’t try to hide it, even though it will be sealed/expunged (as the FAA changed the regs on expungement), I disclosed it on the form. The AME said the FAA might cause me issues later and could defer my exam to OKC; but he granted me the medical and I have the paper in my pocket.

To my knowledge, I don’t have any speeding tickets (I could be wrong) or anything else on my record… I am going to do a background check today at the Sheriff’s Dept.

It is my intention to eventually operate part 121, and I’m seeking to inquire how much resistance I will probably encounter attempting to get a SIDA badge, entrance to Canada, getting a 2nd / 1st class medical, and realistically an interview.

Is it likely they will overturn my 3rd class medical?

Is it possible they will force me to go through HIMS or some psychiatric eval because of hypothetical “substance abuse” even though it was a single charge and occurred when i was 20?

Does an MIP appear the same as having DUI?

It will be at least another year, possibly more, before I begin to get my CPL or a 2nd class medical - so i’m hoping that putting time between me and my transgression with help me. It is solely my responsibility that it happened, and at the time I didn’t want to do anything aviation related. The field I had intended to go into doesn’t require security clearances and background checks to the extent the field of commercial aviation requires. I feel like I could explain it in an HR interview setting.

Joseph,

I really don’t see this being much of an issue for you, it sounds like a very minor offense that happened at a young age.

What I do see as an issue is your attitude about it. You wrote a very long explanation of how the officer didn’t have proper evidence and how you were wrongly convicted, but let’s cut to the chase, you were drinking underage and knew exactly what you were doing, then you got caught. A much better attitude on your part would be something like “I was young and made a mistake by drinking underage. I learned my lesson and have respected the law since then.”

Also, how do you not know whether or not you have had speeding tickets? You have either been pulled over and ticketed or you haven’t, most people don’t forget such things.

I would not spend any more time applying for third or even second class medicals. The airlines all require a first class medical, so you might as well make sure you are eligible for one now, before you spend more money on flight training.

Chris

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Chris,

I appreciate the response. The citation was a result of an temporary error in judgement and a lack of maturity on my part. That mistake was mine and I own it. I have learned that before making a judgement with anything, including aviation, ask my self, “what am I risking and what am I gaining.” That question has since kept me out of any kind of trouble.

On the speeding ticket question, I was given a citation at 17 years old and did driving school. To my knowledge it was never reported to the insurance nor was it placed on my driving record. I recieve both a “Good Driver” and a “Good Student” discount on my insurance - the requirements for those both have clauses for a clean driving record. I also have been told that at 18 years old, your record clears itself; but I don’t know that to be credible. I will know once I do a background check this afternoon.

Regards,
Joseph

Joseph,

On the speeding ticket issue, the airlines and the FAA will simply ask “have you ever…”, not “what does your record show?”. So the answer is, yes, you had a speeding ticket, but it was dismissed, etc. The whole US judicial concept of innocent until proven guilty, juvenile records, purged records and so forth does not apply to the FAA. That being said, I wouldn’t worry about it.

Chris

Joseph,

I’m with Chris here. Your record (provided you behave) won’t be an issue but as someone who’s participated in pilot hiring your answers most definitely are. You know what? I receive a “Good Driver” discount every 6 mos and I had come within 1 point of losing my license for speeding tickets so that doesn’t prove much. Did it come up during my first airline interview? You BET it did and responded that I was stupid and irresponsible, that’s ownership. If I were conducting the interview and someone spouted some magic words they’d read or were told like “it was a result of a temporary error in judgment and a lack of maturity” I’d probably start laughing and ask so that was the only time you’ve ever had a red solo cup in your hand? You also stated “To my knowledge, I don’t have any speeding tickets” but then said “I was given a citation at 17” so you HAVE MOST DEFINITELY had a speeding ticket, have therefore lied and your interview is over. Yes it’s that simple. This is not a game of semantics, trying to misdirect the blame or saying magic words you think the panel wants to hear. Airlines look for good pilots who’ll fit the company profile, are honest and won’t look to pass blame. I’m thinking you need to work on that maturity thing a little more.

Btw, I have to ask, if Dad’s a pilot at Delta why aren’t you having this conversation with him? Is he not aware of your issues?

Adam

I blame this on Hugh Freeze.

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I had a similar incident back when I was undergrad and I would greatly appreciate some advice.

When I was 20 years old I was arrested for public intoxication. It is something to this day that I wish I could undo, but the fact is… I can’t. I learned from this mistake and took corrective action to ensure it never happened again. Ultimately, my case was dismissed by the court and I was not convicted of a misdemeanor by the state. I realize I may not have been convicted, but I do know will always have an arrest on my record.

In the first class medical questionnaire, I answered the questions on 18v/w to the best of my abilities. I was not driving nor around vehicles at the time of the incident (so no on (v)) and I was not convicted (so no on (w)). I fear this issue may come up in the future with employment for the way I answered. I contacted to the FAA to see if I answered the questions correctly, and if not, what I could do to revise my answers. They told me to answer to the best of abilities.

I do not think this will prevent me from my obtaining a future medical certificate or a job, but I do see it could becoming a bigger issue based on how I answered. I believe it is better to be honest than to answer the questions by whether I was convicted or not. Am I overthinking this? If not, how can I fix this? I am currently a student pilot and I want to make sure I don’t go into huge debt unless it all worth it in the end.

Thank you for any help.

TC,

Things happen and pilots are humans, the airlines understand that. I think that if you manage to keep a perfectly clean record moving forward, you will be fine.

That being said, call a few regional airlines and talk to their recruiters, just to see what the official word is.

Chris

Chris,

Thank you for your help. That is what I heard from another pilot. Not to look too much into it and just learn from it. As long as it isn’t a routine thing, I would be fine. Do you think it could be an issue with the majors? Also, would you have answered differently next time (I already have a first class medical)?

Next time an regional recruiter is at the school, I’ll get their insight too.

Thanks again.

I think you will likely be fine at the majors as well. Although you will probably have to explain the event and what you learned from it. Again, you will need a spotless record moving forward and I am not making any promises, this is just my feeling.

I am not sure about the medical form, I would defer to the FAA on that.

No need to wait for a recruiter to come by, they all have websites with contact information in them.