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Can You Get a Captain's License With a Felony or DUI?

Questions About Court Convictions and Assessment Periods

Can you get a captain’s license if you have a conviction?

When applying for a deck license, you’ll be required to answer a series of questions on various forms. The topics will include issues that relate to your use of any dangerous drugs or convictions by any court for offenses other than minor traffic violations. Many first-time offenders have their records expunged after a court set period of good behavior. Having a past conviction on your record may not be a reason for a license not being issued.

How does the Coast Guard define a conviction?

The Coast Guard is very specific with its definitions of a conviction. Conviction means the applicant for a merchant mariners document has been found guilty by judgment or plea by a court of record of the United States, the District of Columbia, any state territory or possession of the United States, a foreign country, or a military court of a criminal felony or misdemeanor or an offense described in Section 205 of the National Driver Register Act of 1982 as amended for 49 USC 30304.

If an applicant pleads guilty or no contest, is granted deferred adjudication, or is required by the court to attend classes, make contributions of time or money, receive treatment, submit to any manner of probation or supervision, or forgo an appeal of the trial court's conviction, then the Coast Guard will consider the applicant to have received a conviction. A later expungement of the conviction will not negate a conviction unless the Coast Guard is satisfied that the expungement is based upon a showing that the court's earlier sentence was in error.

Do you go through a background check to get a captain’s license?

Yes, you will have to undergo a background check for your captain's license. If anything in your past meets the terms of the Coast Guard’s definition of a conviction above, report it. The information will likely be revealed during your background check, even if the court said the offense will be expunged or erased after a period of time.

The Coast Guard is not asking “Did your conviction go away?” They're asking if it ever occurred. If you do not report a conviction, the Coast Guard will most likely be looking into the fact that you have now submitted a fraudulent application. If there are issues in your past, the Coast Guard will evaluate any offense using the guidelines published in the tables found in 46 CFR 10.201(h).

These guidelines set out the minimum and maximum assessment periods that will affect when your license application may be processed. These tables are used by the Coast Guard as guidelines, and you must remember that they're just that: guidelines. The assessment period may vary depending on the nature and number of convictions in your past.

In addition, these tables do not list all of the offenses that could affect a license being issued in the first place. When you submit your paperwork, make sure you include any court papers documenting the offense financial penalties or the sentence you may have served.

Can you get a captain’s license with a felony?

When applying for your Six-pack or Master captain’s license, it is important to disclose any felony convictions. You can see the Coast Guard’s guidelines for evaluating past offenses in the tables found in 46 CFR 10.201(h).

What is the impact of a DUI on a captain’s license?

A first offense DUI may not result in your captain’s license being revoked, but it is important to disclose the offense to the Coast Guard. If you are applying for a captain’s license such as the OUPV/Six-pack, you need to be honest and report any DUIs in your past. Your convictions will turn up in a background check, so attempting to hide them could result in even more trouble.

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