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DUI for Pilots in Illinois

Whether you are a professional, commercial, private, or recreational pilot – or a bit of all – your pilot's license matter. It could be crucial to your livelihood or significant to quality living. A challenge to your pilot's license can be detrimental. And that could happen if you are charged with a DUI (driving under the influence) in Illinois.

At Dolci & Weiland, our DUI defense attorneys understand how a DUI can put your pilot's license at risk. We use our resources and collective experiences and insight to ensure the best defense for you. Getting your DUI case dismissed before trial or you acquitted at trial is our primary goal. We have offices in both DuPage and Cook Counties to effectively represent clients throughout the greater Chicago metropolitan area. 

How Can a DUI in Illinois Impact Your Pilot's License?

When you have been convicted of a DUI or have had administrative action taken against you for a DUI in Illinois and are a pilot, your license to fly is in jeopardy. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires a pilot to inform the FAA in writing of an alcohol- or drug-related conviction. In some cases, you may have to inform the FAA multiple times of a drug- or alcohol-related event. For example, you would have to inform the FAA when:

  • your license is suspended due to refusing to submit to a breath test;
  • your license is suspended due to submitting to a breath test with a result of 0.08 percent blood alcohol content (BAC); and
  • you are convicted of a DUI via a criminal process.

When you have to report to the FAA that your driver's license was suspended due to a DUI arrest or that you have been convicted of a DUI or another related offense, the FAA will investigate and take action, if appropriate – and that action could be the suspension or revocation (temporarily or permanently) of your pilot's license.

Thus, a DUI arrest alone can have a serious consequence, but a conviction can compound the consequences. And if your license is suspended or revoked and your career counts on that pilot's license, you could find yourself in a real conundrum.  

It is important to note here, however, that even if you are convicted of a DUI, it does not necessarily follow your pilot's license will be suspended or revoked. What will happen is an investigation into it to determine if your license should be suspended or revoked. 

How Do You Report a DUI to the FAA?

Under 14 CFR 61.15, pilots have 60 calendar days of the effective date of the alcohol- or drug-related conviction or administrative action to inform the FAA. You must send a form known as a Notification Letter to the FAA's Security and Hazardous Materials Safety Office. 

As already mentioned, each event, conviction, or administrative action requires a separate Notification Letter. If the administrative action and DUI Conviction is from the same event, though you must send in two separate Notification Letters, the FAA still views these two as one drug- or alcohol-related incident.

Notification Letters should be sent to:

Federal Aviation Administration
Security and Hazardous Materials Safety Office (AXE-700)
P.O. Box 25810
Oklahoma City, OK 73125.

You can also fax the Notification Letters at (405) 954-4989.

The letter must contain the following information:

  • Name, Address, Date of Birth, Certificate Number, Telephone Number
  • Type of Violation (conviction and/or administrative action)
  • Date(s) of Action(s)
  • State Holding the Record
  • Driver License Number or State ID Number (if not licensed)
  • Statement whether this relates to a Previously Reported MVA

If you fail to report the conviction or administrative action, you could face harsher penalties, like an emergency suspension of your pilot's license as soon as the FAA learns of the DUI.

Can You be Charged with a Flying Under the Influence Offense in Illinois?

Illinois is home to one of the world's busiest airports, O'Hare International Airport, but Chicago Midway International Airport gets a lot of traffic, too. Thousands of pilots are coming in and out every day. Chances are, some of those pilots – though few – may have a drink one too many at the bar. If that pilot gets behind a wheel in Chicago, he or she may be illegally intoxicated, but is it the same if the pilot gets behind the plane's control system with a blood alcohol content (BAC) at or above .08%?

Federal Aviation Regulation § 91.17 governs pilots and the consumption of alcohol and drugs. No person may operate or attempt to operate an aircraft: 

  • within 8 hours of having consumed alcohol;
  • while under the influence of alcohol;
  • while using any drug that adversely affects safety; and
  • with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.04% or greater.

When a pilot or crew member of any civil aircraft, commercial or private, violates this law, he or she faces:

  • imprisonment;
  • fines; and
  • revocation of his or her pilot's license.

DUI Attorneys in the Chicago Metro Area Defend Pilots 

If you are a pilot, then you know your pilot license is integral to your livelihood and quality of life – and this is true even if the license is for mere recreation. Jeopardizing your pilot's license can mean its suspension or revocation. And a DUI is a crime that can indeed jeopardize your license. Don't take the risk. Get an experienced DUI attorney in the Chicago metro area today. 

You will first need to request – through your attorney – an administrative hearing to fight the administrative suspension of your driver's license – because that suspension requires you to report it to the FAA. Your attorney can use the administrative hearing as a means to develop your criminal defense. Your attorney will employ strategies from all angles, aiming for dismissal of the charges or an acquittal at trial.

At Dolci & Weiland, we are committed to your DUI defense. We know how these types of cases can seriously impact your life. Contact us online or at 603-261-9098 to learn more about our approach and your options.