Drunk driving and drugged driving often make headlines. But in rare cases, alcohol or drugs can impact other forms of transportation.
Recently, more details emerged about the background of a hot air balloon pilot who crashed last summer in Texas, killing himself and 15 passengers.
Official government documents said Alfred “Skip” Nichols continued to take passengers on flights after five DWIs. Reports stated he took a cocktail of prohibited drugs before the fateful flight.
A hot-air balloon controlled by Nichols, 49, landed on power lines near Lockhart, Texas, on July 30, 2016. It fell to the ground, caught fire and killed everyone on board.
A report on Bloomberg said the pilot took prohibited drugs including the opiate painkiller oxycodone before the flight. Despite reports of bad weather, he decided to take off.
The incident highlighted lax regulations that apply to hot air balloon operators and a loophole that made enforcement action difficult despite Nichols’ DWIs, documents a report prepared for a National Transportation Safety Board hearing stated.
Nichols served two prison terms for drug and alcohol violations. He was under treatment for medical conditions that should have prevented him from flying.
Although you can be charged with a DWI for piloting a boat or another craft, the balloon crash highlighted a loophole in the rules.
When pilots apply for a ballooning certificate with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), there is no requirement to disclose prior drunken driving convictions, only drug convictions.
The ballooning certificate does not have a requirement for pilots to include alcohol offenses involving a motor vehicle, as these areas are covered on the FAA’s medical application.
But balloon pilots do not require regular medical exams from FAA-certified examiners. Their only requirement is to write a statement that certifies they have no medical defects that would impact their ability to pilot a balloon.
In contrast, a DWI conviction will impact your ability to fly a plane. Commercial pilots are required to fill out a form that contains questions on alcohol dependence or abuse and convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol.
At the Medlin Law Firm, we will help you with all of the implications and consequences of a DWI charge and help you get your drivers’ license back as soon as possible. Read our overview of DWI/DUI here.
To contact a Tarrant County DWI attorney visit our site or call today.