Randy Babbitt resigned from the FAA in December 2011 after he was pulled over on suspicion of DWI in Farifax City, Virginia. It only took three days from the December 6th traffic stop to close out Babbitt’s tenure in the top job at the FAA. Last week the DWI case against Babbitt was thrown out of court, leaving him free and clear but without his old job.
Even though the judge’s dismissal took only 20 minutes, Babbitt has faced extensive public ridicule and the loss of a top Federal government job due to the charges. Unfortunately this is an all too common story, with people paying a heavy price for drunk driving allegations long before a court evaluates the truth of those charges.
This is especially true in Virginia where the general public does not have access to police reports or notes until trial, which – as in Babbitt’s situation – often takes place many months after the precipitating incident.
In Fairfax County a police general order actually mandates that arrests involving public officials be made public for any criminal or serious traffic charges, including DUI or reckless driving.
In Babbitt’s court appearance Fairfax Judge, Ian O’Flaherty ruled that, in contrast to Fairfax City Police Officers, Mike Morris’s allegation that he had seen Babbitt crossing the yellow center line and driving on the wrong side of the road, the police officer had pulled Babbit over only on a “hunch” after a routine turn.
The judges dismissal came after video Babbitt’s traffic stop was played, which showed Babbitt making what looks to our eyes like an unremarkable left-hand turn into a parking area. Babbitt does indeed cross the center lines (hard to make a left hand turn without doing so) but he did not drive on the wrong side of the road as Fairfax City Officer Mike Morris alleged in the initial criminal complaint.
View the video here, via local news, and see if you think this looks like an illegal left turn to you:
Meanwhile Babbitt’s defense lawyer argued that the roadside breath test Babbitt took showed a blood alcohol level below Virgina’s legal limit. Prosecutors stated that later tests showed Babbitt’s levels over the legal limit but O’Flaherty dismissed the case before this evidence was even presented.
The FAA subsequently released a statement on Babbitt’s exoneration:
“For decades, Randy has been one of the most recognized and respected people in aviation. His contributions to the safety and efficiency of air transportation in the United States and around the world are significant,” said NBAA president and CEO Ed Bolen. “We are pleased that the matter that led to his resignation from the FAA is now closed. We wish him all the best in whatever his future plans may be and trust that the aviation community will benefit from his considerable talent, expertise and commitment.”
Small comfort to the man who used to run the organization, but for the now disproven accusation of drunk driving. We’d argue that some apologetic phone calls need to be made.
Of his exonneration, Babbitt said:
“I am thrilled the charges against me have been dismissed at trial and I have been found not guilty,”
Situations like this illustrate why we always recommend speaking to an attorney before making a decision about how to approach a drunk driving charge. Just because you face a charge does not mean you are guilty or that you should accept the prosecutions interpretation of the evidence.
We make it easy with a FREE CONSULTATION to discuss the particulars of your case but whether or not you speak to Alex or Carlos here at The Gordon Law Firm, you should speak to someone – a qualified attorney with experience defending DUI cases in Virginia.
It really can make all the difference.
Give us a call at 703-218-8426 and get help today.