Randy Babbit, head administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), has been charged with driving under the influence after police in Fairfax, Va., a suburb of Washington D.C., caught Babbit driving on the wrong side of the road.
City of Fairfax Police said that at around 10:30 pm on Dec. 3, an officer spotted a car driving on the wrong side of the road of Old Lee Highway in Fairfax, Va.
Pulling the vehicle over for a traditional traffic stop, the officer discovered two things. One, the driver was operating under the influence. Two, the man in question was Jerome Randolph Babbit, 65, the head of the federal organization responsible fro regulating and overseeing all aspects of civil aviation in the U.S.
Charged with DWI
Babbit was transported to the Adult Detention Center, where he tested positive for illegal amounts of alcohol in his system. He was charged with driving while intoxicated, and held on personal bail (DWI).
The FAA head was released today, and faces a Feb. 2 court appearance.
Randy Babbit was the only person in the car. He wasn't involved in a crash, and police told CBS that the FAA head cooperated fully with police.
Fairfax police did not release Babbit's blood-alcohol level, but state law defines DWI as a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above.
Long History with FAA
Babbit is not only one of the highest-ranking officials in the FAA. He's also one of the people with the most history there.
Babbit was a pilot at Eastern Airlines for 25 years before becoming President of the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA).
Within the Federal Aviation Administration, Babbit serves as chairman of the agency's Management Advisory Council for years before being sworn in as the organization's head in 2009.
Spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Transportation Sasha Johnson, as well as the FAA, declined to comment on Babbit's DWI arrest. Johnson did saw the Department planned to release a statement later today.
FAA Shutdown Still Possible
News of Randy Babbit's arrest comes less than a month after the FAA faced another shutdown of its operations.
At a meeting of the Aero Club on Nov. 14, Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W. Va.), chairman of the Senate's Science and Transportation Committee, expressed his anger and frustration at the lack of long-term funding going to the federal agency.
Rockefellet blamed the aviation industry for delaying the legislation of a long-term funding bill for the FAA. A short-term funding bill has been extended over times since 2007 to keep the organization running, and the current extension expired on Jan. 31.
Rockefeller called the FAA one of the most important agencies in the federal government, but this year has seen union clashes, industry in-fighting, and the bankruptcy of such iconic travel companies as American Airlines.
Randy Babbit's DWI, coming as it does so close to the termination of the FAA's latest extension, may be related to the agency head's soon being out of a job. If so, his recent arrest may not do much to credit the FAA in Congress' eyes, especially as legislators continue to stall on the organization's funding.