New York is serious about prosecuting people accused of driving while intoxicated (DWI). A New York DWI is usually a misdemeanor. However, it may become a felony if the driver has prior convictions or causes a death or catastrophic injury. And for some professions – such as an airline pilot – a DWI can end a career.
When an airline pilot gets a DWI, the pilot must inform the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The pilot’s employer also receives news of the arrest. If the DWI results in a conviction, the pilot could lose their license, get suspended or lose their airline job.
Help for commercial pilots
The FAA can permanently revoke a pilot’s license to fly. However, a DWI doesn’t always destroy an airline pilot’s career.
The FAA allows pilots to participate in a drug and alcohol treatment program specifically for airline pilots. The Human Intervention Motivation Study is a program that helps pilots overcome drug and alcohol abuse.
To participate in the program, a pilot must have tested positive for drug use or been diagnosed with an alcohol disorder. During the program, the pilot receives treatment and monitoring of their progress.
Potential dangers of alcohol abuse
A commercial pilot who drinks and drives might also fly while intoxicated. Alcohol can impair a pilot’s judgment, reflexes and ability to handle an emergency. And this could result in a catastrophic plane crash.
A DWI can have life-changing consequences for a commercial airline pilot. Any pilot wrongfully accused of a DWI should take the accusation seriously. And any pilot who struggles with alcohol use should consider seeking professional help.