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Fri, May 11, 2012

DUI Charges Against Randy Babbitt Dropped

Arrest Let To FAA Chief's Resignation

The DUI charges which led to the resignation of former FAA administrator Randy Babbitt have been dropped by a Fairfax City, VA, judge.

Babbitt had been observed allegedly driving on the wrong side of the road, which led to the traffic stop last year. But the Associated Press reports that the judge determined that video of the stop showed that Babbitt was turning into a parking lot, not driving against traffic.

Babbitt had initially been placed on administrative leave from the agency, but tendered his resignation to DOT Secretary Ray LaHood. At the time, the agency was promoting a major driving safety campaign.

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that General District Judge Ian O'Flaherty dismissed the case before prosecutors could present any evidence. He called the traffic stop a "hunch" on the part of the arresting officer. Babbitt's attorney said that Babbitt had tested just below the legal limit for a DUI on the first breath test, and that police are not permitted to continue testing looking for different results.

Prosecutors reportedly protested the judges decision, saying the officer had a legitimate reason to pull Babbitt over because of the way the turn was executed and that the failed to use a turn signal.

Babbitt had been appointed by President Obama to the top post at the FAA in 2009. At the time, he was hailed as a former airline pilot and union rep who understood the industry. He was replaced at the agency by long-time bureaucrat Michael Huerta, who was nominated to the post in March of this year but has not yet been confirmed by the Senate.

FMI: www.faa.gov

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