Former FAA Administrator: NOT GUILTY!

Many of you followed with interest the resignation of FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt after he was accused of driving while intoxicated in Virginia.  This case was particularly interesting to the aviation community because Babbitt had been held in such high regard by his peers.

Babbitt has beaten the rap!

Yesterday, Judge O’Flaherty dismissed the case against Randy Babbitt.  There appear to have been two factors worth mentioning in the dismissal.

The first deciding factors in the dismissal was the fact that the police officer had no reasonable suspicion to pull Mr. Babbitt over.  In the United States, the standard for a traffic stop has a fairly low threshold: reasonable suspicion.  The arresting office, Officer Mike Morris, said that he pulled Administrator Babbitt over for driving on the wrong side of the road.  The police car’s dashboard camera, however, showed that the car had NOT been on the wrong side of the road.  The police may not pull over a car on a mere hunch, even if that hunch turns out to have been right.  Because there was no reasonable suspicion justifying the traffic stop, any evidence gained as a consequence of the stop was inadmissible.

In addition, however, the evidence showed that the first breath-alcohol test showed a blood alcohol level of .07.  Virginia’s legal limit is .08.  A total of four tests were taken and it was only the subsequent tests that showed a blood alcohol level above the legal limit.

Driving after drinking is this day and age is stupid; especially for a commercial pilot like Babbitt who should absolutely know better.  But it is still gratifying (1) to see the system work and (2) to see a guy like Babbitt, who has been known as a class act for his entire career, have an opportunity to get on with his life.

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About Jason Dickstein
Mr. Dickstein is the President of the Washington Aviation Group, a Washington, DC-based aviation law firm. He represents several aviation trade associations, including the Aviation Suppliers Association, the Aircraft Electronics Association, the Aircraft Fleet Recycling Association and the Modification and Replacement Parts Association.

One Response to Former FAA Administrator: NOT GUILTY!

  1. Pingback: Randy Babbitt Lands at Southwest « ASA Web Log

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