Should you refuse to take a breathalyzer?

May 30, 2012

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Warren Silberman

Warren Silberman

  • Former Manager, FAA Aerospace Medical Certification 
  • Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine 
  • Expert in Aerospace/Preventive Medicine 
  • Pilot since 1986

I’ve heard rumors in the pilot community that airmen shouldn’t consent to a breathalyzer test if they are suspected of an alcohol- or drug-related offense while operating a motor vehicle.

Don’t believe those rumors. If this happens to you, allow the officer to perform the test. Otherwise, this is called a “refusal” to test, which the FAA considers equivalent to a significant positive alcohol test result. The FAA will require you to be evaluated by a substance abuse specialist.

There are two important requirements if you’re suspected of this type of offense:

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