Washington State DUI Grounds Pilot?

When it comes to pilots and DUI law, there are a myriad of federal regulations that apply but in some respects, Washington State DUI law pertaining to pilots is tougher than Federal regulations. Although Washington State cannot revoke a pilot’s certificate upon a conviction for “flying DUI, “ a pilot who is convicted of operating an aircraft recklessly or while under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be prohibited, at the discretion of a judge, from operating an aircraft anywhere within Washington State for up to one year. This means the pilot whose aircraft is hangared in Washington State is effectively grounded for one year as a sanction for flying under the influence of alcohol (DUI in the sky) or operating an aircraft recklessly. Note that the law may be violated on the ground as well as in the air. Reckless operation on the ground during taxi, or “DUI while taxiing” can result in the one-year grounding of a pilot in Washington State. (This is similar to the penalty imposed in the case of a Washington State DUI committed in a vehicle which results in driver’s license suspension.) There are a myriad of federal and state complications facing a pilot, whether private or commercial, who is arrested for a Washington State DUI whether in a vehicle or as a consequence of operating an aircraft. For a pilot, just as with any citizen, it is important to seek effective legal representation when charged with DUI or any alcohol related offense involving an aircraft.