May 10, 2012
By Jim Moore
Former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt told reporters he bears no ill will against the police officer who arrested him for driving while intoxicated in December, after a Fairfax, Va., judge ruled May 10 that the traffic stop was made on a “mere hunch,” and without just cause.
The case that led to Babbitt’s abrupt resignation as the FAA’s leader was dismissed, according to The Washington Post and other news sources.
“I am very pleased to learn that former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt may now move to the next chapter of his distinguished career, where I am certain he has much to contribute to the aviation community,” said AOPA President Craig Fuller. “We at AOPA certainly look forward to finding ways to collaborate with this fine individual and outstanding aviator.”
Fairfax City General District Court Judge Ian O’Flaherty made his ruling after video of the traffic stop was played in court, footage that contradicted the arresting officer’s assertion that Babbitt was driving on the wrong side of the road after leaving a dinner party.
According to The Washington Post, the video showed Babbitt, 65, making a routine left-hand turn from a southbound lane, crossing double yellow lines and the northbound lane in the process, but not driving on the wrong side of the road as had been alleged.
Babbitt, 65, had a distinguished career in Washington, following a quarter-century of service as an Eastern Airlines pilot. He was appointed FAA administrator by President Barack Obama in 2009.
“I’m happy to have it behind me,” Babbitt told The Washington Post following the May 10 hearing. “Candidly, it’s been a tough time.”
Babbitt’s attorney said an initial breathalyzer test showed his client’s blood alcohol level was below the legal limit. A prosecutor maintained that subsequent tests yielded different results, but the case was dismissed before evidence could be presented.
Babbitt told The Washington Post he plans to work in aviation consulting.
AOPA staff members updated attendees of the Montana Aviation Conference Feb. 27 through March 1 on the association's involvement in issues that affect pilots.
The FAA has issued an airworthiness directive for certain Cessna models after icing-related accidents.
Nine aviation organizations have asked senators to support legislation compelling the FAA to go through the rulemaking process for new policies on sleep disorders.
AOPA thanks our members for their continued support in protecting the freedom to fly.