Obtaining a pilot's license is very challenging, and the privilege can be easily lost. Although a criminal conviction doesn't automatically bar someone from receiving or retaining a pilot's license, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires pilots to remain in "good moral standing"; a somewhat vague term that provides the agency some flexibility when determining whether to revoke a person's license or not. Here are two crimes that can result in you being stripped of your ability to fly a plane and what may be done to avoid that outcome.
Driving Under the Influence
It is illegal to fly a plane while intoxicated—for obvious reasons—and getting caught can result in jail time, fines, and revocation of your pilot's license. However, operating a ground vehicle while intoxicated can also have a negative impact on your eligibility for a license. The FAA looks for patterns of behavior when evaluating criminal conduct of this type.
While the agency can and do let people with one DUI on their records have licenses, it may revoke yours if you have get multiple convictions within a certain period of time or your behavior was particularly egregious. For example, if you are convicted of a DUI within three years of a previous one, the agency may take your license away. You may also lose your license if you refuse to take a breathalyzer test or fail to report the incident to the FAA within 60 days after it occurring.
Whether you can avoid losing your license for a DUI depends on the circumstances of the case. For instance, if it's your second conviction, you may be able to save your flying privileges by completing a drug and alcohol treatment program. Dodging the conviction altogether may also help you avoid losing your license, but you may end up on a watch list where you'll lose your license if you slip up again.
Your license may also be suspended or revoked if you're convicted of a crime that indicates you may be a security risk. For instance, if you were convicted of making terroristic threats against another person or business, you may lose your flying privileges even if you didn't intend to actually follow through on those threats.
It may be possible to avoid this outcome by plea bargaining for different charges. For instance, getting convicted of battery or harassment may not affect your security clearance as much as having a misdemeanor or felony for terroristic threats on your record would be.
It's best to consult with a criminal attorney, such as Robert A Murray, about these and other issues that may affect your pilot's license. For more information or help with a case, contact a criminal defense lawyer in your area.