Alcohol Related Problems And Some Of The Part 61 Consequences If Not Reported To The FAA




Alcohol Related Problems And Some Of The Part 61 Consequences If Not Reported To The FAA

By JAMES E. (Jim) TRUSTY      Email Lrn2Fly@Bellsouth.Net


If you are reading this message, we have accomplished our objectiveóto make you aware that help is available.  

Take a close look at this government website: 

I never fail to visit the Federal Aviation Administration tent when I go to an airshow as I did when I visited Sun-n-Fun this year.  As an FAA Safety Team Lead Representative I am always looking for something to use in an article or a safety meeting.  This year I ran into Dan Cilli who works out of the Runway Safety Office and travels around speaking to various gatherings about aviation.  He introduced me to Brenda Smith of the Security & Investigations Division and whose job includes making sure that you let the FAA know when you have an alcohol related motor vehicle action (MVA), such as a driverís license suspension or a conviction.  She also looks to see if you failed to check that block (18V) when you got your physical, or in general have an alcohol related problem of any kind. 

Didnít know it was illegal, unlawful, and dangerous?  Read 14CFR 61.15 (d) (e) 

Iíve been around aviation since the J-3 Cub was a trainer and the B-52 was new and it was not evident to me that the industry had a major problem.  Occasionally you hear of a pilot getting caught drinking but the hard and scary statistics are not generally publicized. 


This particular Federal Aviation Administration Branch was started in 1990 after studies showed a high percentage of pilots had blood alcohol levels over 4%, some were falsifying medical applications, and many had alcohol related motor vehicle actions on their records.  All this is covered under CFR Part 61 (61.15e). 

The Johns Hopkins study examined 300,000 general aviation pilots.  The outcome was that 3.4% had a history of DWI and contributed to 25 crashes per year.  It showed that those with a history of DWI had a crash risk 43% greater than those with no history.  Some of the reportable actions included but werenít limited to: Chemical test failure or refusal, DUI, DWI, Unlawful Blood alcohol level, (OWUI) Operating while under the influence. 

Howís business for them, you wonder?  Since November 1990 they have received 13,468 notification letters, handled 14,079 cases and discovered 4,795 falsifications.  I guess if we figured out just how many souls we actually have in the aviation industry and divided these numbers into that figure it would be a very small fraction of individuals getting caught violating this rule.  The bad thing about all this is that we are judged by those that get caught.  You never hear anyone say that we hauled 650,000,000 passengers safely in the United States last year.   

Itís always did you read about the crash that killed somebody.  The same thing works with driving a motor vehicle under the influence. 

We always attach humor to a drunk, reeling and falling around, screaming and laughing, but when you add a pilotís uniform, a BIG airplane, and a couple of hundred passengers, itís not so funny any more.  I know from personal experience just how hard it is to reach the level where you are recognized as a professional pilot and exactly how expensive it is to get there and stay current.  I simply cannot imagine anyone taking the risk of losing all that and maybe killing someone just because they decided to do some serious drinking and flying or driving.  Not a good combination! 

Some frequently asked questions:  What if I didnít read FAA Form 8500-8, Block 18V?  You need to call the number listed below and explain yourself. 

Do I have to report other than alcohol related convictions?  Yes!  Anything that is administrative or any action that results in a conviction. 

If the charge of DUI is reduced, do I have to report it?  NO, if the charge is reduced to an offense that is not related to alcohol (i.e. careless driving).  Just remember that if your driverís license was suspended as a result of being arrested for an alcohol related offense, that action will need to be reported.   

How long do I have to report this incident?  60 days. 

What exactly happens when I file a report?  They get your driver history and compare it to what you submitted. 

What will close my file?  If the report has been submitted in accordance to the Code of Federal Regulations and you do not have more than one alcohol related motor vehicle incident within a three year period (Violation of 61.15d).    

I failed to file a report within 60 days, now what?  File as soon as you can and it can probably be worked out. 

I failed to report a motor vehicle action and the FAA found out about it?  A formal investigation will be initiated by the FAA.  You will receive a Letter of Investigation. 

Will the FAA discover that I have not filed a report?  Well, you have given them permission by signing Form 8500-8 when you got your medical. 

Who has access to my DUI/DWI records?  Only the FAA Investigators. 

The main point of this article is that if most of your problems are alcohol related, then that is something only you can address.  As far as the FAA paperwork is concerned, it will be handled if you just start the process rolling.  Donít put it off until it puts you on the ground walking! 

Still have more questions?  Use the information shown below, and remember, when it comes to Drinking and Flying or Driving, just donít.   


Security & Investigations Division (AMC-700)

Post Office Box 25810

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma  73125-0810

Telephone:  (405) 954-4848

FAX:  (405) 954-4989 

Monday through Friday from 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. 


Written permission from the author is required to reprint this copyrighted material (2009).

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