Technically speaking, yes a pilot can have a DUI. However, when it comes to job interviews, having this offense on your record will not look good, and it could limit your job prospects.
At no point in becoming a pilot will you be asked if you have a DUI offense obtained while driving a vehicle, but you will be asked about your criminal record.
As part of the questioning surrounding your criminal record, any prospective boss is likely to ask: a. ‘Have you been arrested?’ And b. ‘Was it drug related?’ If you have a DUI on your criminal record, then the answer to both of these questions will, of course, be yes.
There is no strict rule that says that an airline company will not employ pilots who have a DUI on their record, however it is likely to damage your chances of getting that job.
There is always the chance that you will encounter a company that is lenient, so the chances are that there are some pilots who have a DUI. But in most cases, having a DUI on your record will significantly reduce your chances of obtaining a job as a pilot.
Can I be a pilot with 2 DUI?
Just as there is no specific rule saying that people with DUI convictions cannot become airline pilots, there is also no specific rule surrounding the amount of DUI offenses you are allowed to have on your record for this job.
As we have said, the majority of airline companies will not specifically ask about DUI offenses in a job interview, but they will ask questions about your criminal history. These questions will usually include whether you have an existing criminal record for an arrest, and they will also often ask if any of your criminal history includes drug offenses.
For a lot of companies, not only airline companies, a criminal history surrounding drug offenses can be a red flag. This is why having a DUI on your record can be extremely harmful for your job prospects, even though you will not be specifically asked about your DUI.
That being said, you will likely not be asked how many times you have been arrested in relation to drug offenses, so it is not likely that having 2 DUI convictions will limit your chances of becoming a pilot any more than having one conviction will.
What happens if a pilot gets a DUI?
If you are convicted of a DUI while actively working as a pilot for an airline company then your employment will usually be terminated immediately.
If you are arrested for a DUI then the company that you work for will usually ground you while the case proceeds. Once the case has been completed, you might be permanently dismissed if convicted or reinstated if found not guilty.
But if you are convicted for a DUI then it is not only the company that you work for that you need to consider. Your DUI conviction could also be picked up by the FAA and this might result in them preventing you from piloting a plane.
If you are convicted of a DUI then the FAA might revoke your aviation medical certificate, and without this you cannot pilot a plane. So even if the company that you are working for is forgiving this might not mean that you can immediately return to work.
So generally speaking, if a pilot gets convicted of a DUI while actively working then they will probably be terminated from employment with their airline company and could lose their medical certificate which will prevent them from flying.
What disqualifies you from being a pilot?
There are a number of things that could disqualify you from working as a pilot, including lack of flight hours, and medical problems including both mental and physical health. However, one of the most common things that sees pilots be disqualified is criminal offenses.
As part of your job interview to take a piloting job then you will often be asked if you have any existing criminal offenses and if these relate to drugs. If the answer is yes then this will limit your chances of being hired, but there are some companies who will still hire you despite your criminal background.
However, if you actively complete a criminal offense when working as a pilot then the process is slightly different. Often upon arrest you will be temporarily suspended by the company while the case is taken to court.
If you are found guilty then the chances are that your employment with that company will be terminated, especially if the offense relates to drugs (i.e. a DUI). So while there are some other things that can disqualify you from being a pilot, one of the most common reasons will be a drug offense.