Pilot’s license with a DUI

by | Real Life Scenarios, Medical

Is it possible to have a pilot’s license with a DUI?


Most of the major airlines will not hire a pilot with a DUI conviction. If you are thinking about a career as an airline pilot you need to plan your steps carefully.

Most airlines––and the FAA––view a DUI as a question of judgement. When it comes to transporting hundreds of passengers safely, often in challenging conditions, being able to make good decisions is a big factor in the hiring process. The FAA requires a DUI to be reported and if you are already a pilot you will probably lose your medical.

If you have not yet been convicted and it is your first and only offense your first step should be to hire a lawyer and get the charge pleaded down to reckless driving. If you are a member of AOPA you can find a lawyer through their Pilot Protection Services program. Take every opportunity you can to avoid having a DUI on your record. In some states, the record can be expunged after a period of time.

The airline industry is cyclical with big swings in pilot hiring. Periods where pilots are furloughed and have to return to instructing are often followed by pilot shortages and hiring with minimum hours.

During a period of rapid growth, you can probably get hired by one of the regional commuter airlines that is owned by a major airline. After working your way through the seniority ranks, you have the best chance at being hired by the major carrier with no further complications.

If the airlines aren’t hiring you have more work to do and you will probably find your opportunities limited until the industry changes.

For pilots that are already flying for a major airline and have completed the probation period will probably be put through “the program,” resulting in the FAA issuing an exemption.  Maintaining your job and flying status depends on you being able to prove to the airline and the FAA that you have recovered.

The path to getting hired as an airline pilot with a DUI conviction is a long and challenging process. You need to talk to the appropriate professionals, and find a mentor who can advise you in your specific situation. 

If you are prepared, work hard and with a little luck in pilot hiring, you will probably achieve your goal. Start your journey to becoming a pilot by finding a flight school near you.

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