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.
The movement to exempt thousands of general aviation pilots from the third class medical certification process is gaining momentum in Congress and the aviation community.
The recent warrantless stops and searches of law-abiding pilots on general aviation flights have drawn the attention of mainstream media.
The National Aeronautic Association has awarded the Collier Trophy for “the first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier.”
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