One of the most unique criminal offenses applicable in California is flying under the influence. Pilots may not know the laws regarding using alcohol while flying in Los Angeles County until they speak to a Los Angeles DUI lawyer. Commercial and private pilots who fly under the influence of alcohol may be charged with flying under the influence (FUI).
Implied Consent and Pilots in the State of California
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) prohibits any person from being a crew member if they have consumed alcohol within eight hours of a flight, are under the influence of drugs, or have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.4 percent or greater.
Pilots are considered to have provided their consent to chemical testing of a blood or urine sample to determine alcohol or drug concentration levels in the body. A police officer can request that a pilot submit a sample of their blood or urine for testing whether the pilot is operating a plane on the water, on the ground, or in the air. All officers must warn pilots that if they do not submit a sample of their blood or urine, then the refusal will cause an automatic suspension of the pilot’s license for more than one year.
Pilots who are convicted of violating statutes such as Cal. Pub. Util. Code §21407.1 may face longer suspension periods, monetary fines, and imprisonment. You may need to learn about the potential defenses you can assert to protect your legal rights. Understanding what police officers have the authority to do can help you avoid being charged with additional offenses if you are arrested for flying under the influence.
The Consequences of a FUI Conviction in California
The penalties are severe for those facing FUI convictions in California. The penalties for this offense may include the following:
- Pilot license revocation
- Maximum fine of $250,000
- Those charged under CFR §91.17 may face a maximum of fifteen years in state prison
- Those convicted of FUI will have to serve a mandatory one to six-month sentence in county jail
These penalties can end a pilot’s career and make it nearly impossible for the pilot to ever fly again. Losing their livelihood and their favorite activity may cause those convicted of FUI to suffer depression and anxiety. It is important for all pilots accused of the offense of flying under the influence to seek out legal representation as soon as possible.
Applicable Defense to Flying Under the Influence Charges
A Los Angeles DUI lawyer can help you assert defenses that can challenge the case brought by the State of California. Legal arguments take time to refine and strengthen. However, the following are some examples of defenses a Los Angeles DUI lawyer may argue on your behalf:
- The pilot had to commit the offense of FUI to avoid a more dangerous situation
- Four hours had passed before the chemical tests were performed
- The pilot was not flying the aircraft
- The pilot was not intoxicated
These arguments can be stronger or weaker depending on the facts and context of each particular case. Understanding the legal options available to you can provide you with the information you need to make the best-informed decision regarding your legal rights. The more information the attorney has regarding the case, the more effective their legal arguments will be.
The Benefits of Retaining a Criminal Defense Lawyer in Los Angeles
You will benefit in numerous ways if you retain a criminal defense lawyer. It is imperative that you have a lawyer who can suppress evidence that was seized in violation of your constitutional rights. If you can suppress evidence that was the fruit of the poisonous tree, then the prosecution may not be able to prove you were guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Obtaining Exculpatory Evidence
Retaining legal counsel in your flying under the influence case can help you obtain exculpatory evidence from the prosecution. Any evidence which suggests the defendant is innocent must be turned over to the defense. This is also known as the Brady doctrine.
You may not be aware that you can seek this favorable evidence unless you are represented by counsel. Therefore, it is imperative that you speak to a Los Angeles DUI lawyer regarding your FUI case. It is possible that the prosecution has not turned over all the evidence favorable to the defendant in your case.
Also, you can benefit from attorney-client privilege and attorney-client confidentiality. These principles allow criminal defendants to speak candidly with their attorneys. This enables the attorney to provide the most effective legal representation possible.
Flying Under the Influence Cases Are Complex
Flying under the influence cases involve federal law, state law, and administrative regulations. These authorities overlap and can make flying under the influence cases exceedingly complicated. You do not want to be convicted because you misunderstood how a particular statute should be interpreted.
It is also possible that you could be convicted of this crime in California if you are operating a drone or skydiving while intoxicated. You need to be careful when you are accused of this crime because many particular facts can make or break a criminal prosecution. Therefore, it is in your best interest if you learn about all the legal options available to you regarding a flying under the influence charge.
Contact a Los Angeles DUI Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
You do not have to carry the burden of your defense all by yourself. If you are searching for legal representation, contact us today to book a free consultation. We can assist you with your flying under the influence case.
Understanding your rights as a criminal defendant is essential if you want to assist your attorney with your defense. By retaining legal counsel, you will be able to have a better chance of testing all the evidence presented against you. Also, the prosecutors in the case may be more likely to enter a plea agreement if you are represented by counsel.