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a familiar FAA entity to general aviation pilots); a third and very importantly, there is the easy confusion of this requirement with the information required on an FAA medical application form.
As defined in the rule, a “motor vehicle action” can fall into one of two categories: convictions and drivers license actions. Any state or federal court conviction related to the operation of a motor vehicle while "intoxicated by" or "impaired by" or "while under the influence of" alcohol or a drug is a motor vehicle action. In the other category, a motor vehicle action also includes any cancellation, suspension (however short or technical or forgettable), revocation, or denial of a driver’s license for any alcohol or drug related motor vehicle offense.
The report must be made not later than 60 days after the motor vehicle action. Reporting on an FAA medical application form does not satisfy the requirement, even if the report is made within the 60 days. Several years ago a pilot disclosed a motor vehicle action on his FAA medical application within the 60 days allowed. He was unaware of FAR 61.15(e). Reporting to the FAA is reporting to the FAA, right? Wrong! The report must be made to the FAA Security people, not the Medical people. FAA cut him no slack. He was found in violation of the regulation.
The report must be in writing. But, contrary to the many other FAA reporting requirements, there is no official form. Where the report must be sent and what it must contain is in the regulation itself and in a suggested letter on the FAA website (www.faa.gov). The report must be sent to FAA, Security and Investigations Division (AMC-700), P.O. Box 25810, Oklahoma City, OK 73125, or fax to 405 954 4989. The report must include the pilot’s name, address, date of birth, and airman certificate number. It must contain the type of violation, the date of the conviction or administrative action, and the State that holds the record.
A pilot must report each action to the FAA regardless of whether it arises out of the same incident or circumstances previously reported (as it many times does). But if the same incident, or the same factual circumstances, leads to any combination of convictions and driver’s license actions, it will count only once toward the two that will lead to certificate action. So, be sure to mention whether the motor vehicle action resulted from the same incident or arose out of the same factual circumstances related to a previously reported motor vehicle action. For example, if you reported a temporary license suspension resulting from a traffic stop, and you were later convicted for the same offense, both must be reported but should only be counted once.
Under FAR 61.15(d) a pilot's certificate may (and likely will) be suspended or revoked if the pilot has two or more alcohol- or drug-related motor vehicle actions within a three-year period.
The effects of a report, or a failure to report, are serious. If a pilot does report a motor vehicle action, it will automatically trigger a review of the pilot’s file to determine if the pilot continues to be eligible for his or her airman certificate (two or more in a three-year period and you are out) or medical certificate (a history of alcoholism). If a pilot fails to report even one conviction or administrative action, that is grounds for suspension or revocation of any pilot certificate or rating he or she holds. It is also grounds for denial of an application for a certificate or rating for up to one year after the date of the motor vehicle action. It is interesting (and disturbing) that a lot more pilots lose their pilot certificates under FAR 61.15(f) for failure to report (unknowingly), than for having two or more motor vehicle actions.
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John Yodice is the Senior Partner of the Law Offices of Yodice Associates, a law firm experienced in aviation legal matters involving DOT, FAA and TSA certification and compliance, corporate governance, aircraft transactions and more. www.yodice.com