In the Spring Issue of the Federal Air Surgeon’s Medical Bulletin Dr. Warren Silberman, manager of the FAA’s Aerospace Medical Certification Division, responds to an aviation medical examiner’s (“AME”) confusion regarding the FAA’s new DUI policy. Specifically, the AME wanted to know when he was required to obtain court documents and defer the medical application. The AME also asked about how to handle an airman who has had one or more certificates issued since a DWI conviction and whether a history of 0.15 or above blood alcohol content (“BAC”) before the previous medical certificates were issued now requires a deferral?
Responding to the questions, Dr. Silberman stated:
- This only applies to a new offense, meaning a new applicant who now reports a first DUI (driving under the influence) event.
- If this is a new student pilot and reporting a single DUI, you only need concern yourself with the event — if it was within the previous five years.
- As an aviation medical examiner, you need to obtain the police reports, court documents, etc., from the event (in the past, we were not picky if an AME did not obtain these documents from a single DUI, as long as it was indicated in Block 60 that it had been discussed with the airman).
- If, when you obtain these documents, you note that whatever way the sample was obtained, the level was > 0.15, you defer issuance of the medical certificate. If the level was less than this, you may issue and tell us about your actions in Block 60.
- If you obtain these documents and note that the airman “refused” to submit for testing, this is considered positive for us, and you should defer the issuance.
- In the instances where you end up deferring, you can inform the airman that it will be necessary to obtain a substance abuse evaluation from someone knowledgeable in doing such evaluations.
Although it isn’t absolutely clear, it appears that the FAA will not be going back and requiring substance abuse evaluations for DUI events involving a BAC of > 0.15 that are now reported if the DUI event occurred more than five years ago. That’s good news in light of the new requirement that “arrests” now be reported on the medical application even if the arrest did not result in a conviction.