- Associated Press - Thursday, May 10, 2012

FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — A judge on Thursday tossed out drunken driving charges against the former head of the Federal Aviation Administration after seeing video of the traffic stop and ruling that the officer had no legitimate reason to stop the driver.

Randy Babbitt, 65, resigned his post in December after news of his arrest became public.

At a trial Thursday, General District Judge Ian O’Flaherty dismissed the case after seeing video that showed Mr. Babbitt making what appeared to be a normal left turn into a parking lot, even though the officer had said that Mr. Babbitt had been driving on the wrong side of the road.

Judge O’Flaherty called the traffic stop a “hunch” and dismissed the case before prosecutors could even present evidence of Mr. Babbitt’s alleged intoxication.

Mr. Babbitt’s lawyer, Peter Greenspun, disputed the fact that Mr. Babbitt was intoxicated in the trial’s opening statement. He said the first breath test administered gave a result of .07, under the .08 legal limit. It was only subsequent breath tests that showed an intoxication level above .08, and Mr. Greenspun said police are not allowed to give multiple tests until they get a result they like.

Mr. Babbitt, after the case was dismissed, told reporters he was glad to have the matter behind him and spoke graciously about the officer who arrested him.

“He certainly was acting in good faith,” Mr. Babbitt said of the officer.

In an emailed statement, Mr. Babbitt said, “I am thrilled the charges against me have been dismissed at trial and I have been found not guilty. “

Mr. Babbitt said that he does not regret resigning from the FAA and that he plans to work in aviation consulting.

Mr. Babbitt was arrested in Fairfax city after attending a Dec. 3 dinner party with friends. Mr. Greenspun said Mr. Babbitt, a resident of Reston, Va., was unfamiliar with Fairfax roads. Several witnesses at the dinner party were prepared to testify that Mr. Babbitt drank 2½ or three glasses of wine at the party over a period of nearly four hours and that none saw any noticeable impairment.

“It is not against the law for Mr. Babbitt to have two or three drinks” at a dinner party, Mr. Greenspun said. “There was no reason for him not to get in that car.”

Prosecutors opposed the judge’s decision to dismiss the case. They argued that the officer did have a legitimate reason to pull Mr. Babbitt over because of the way in which he made the turn and because they say he failed to use a turn signal.



Click to Read More

Click to Hide