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Head of FAA picked up in Fairfax on drunk driving charges

Police in Fairfax, Virginia, say the head of the Federal Aviation Administration performed quite the stunt recently when he was caught allegedly driving drunk on the wrong side of the road.

Fairfax police picked up now-former FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt for DUI after observing the 65-year-old former pilot traveling in the wrong direction on Old Lee Highway. Reports say the Reston, Virginia, resident was driving by himself in the 3900 block and did not become involved in an accident. A record of the incident said Babbitt cooperated ful ly with authorities during the 10:30 p.m. traffic stop and willingly submitted to being taken to the Adult Detention Center.

Media reports did not include how police determined that Babbitt had been drinking. Details about whether police conducted any field sobriety, breath or blood tests on Babbitt during the traffic stop, and what those test results were, were not released.

Babbitt was booked and released on a personal recognizance bond, and he is expected in Fairfax General District Court in early February for a hearing on the alcohol-related traffic offense.

The U.S. Department of Transportation announced shortly after the incident that Babbitt had requested a leave of absence from his job. Babbit resigned from his position a few days later.

Deputy Administration Michael Huerta will serve as acting chief indefinitely. DOT officials stated they will decide how the driving while intoxicated charges affect Babbitt's future government employment. Before heading FAA, he had a long and respected career as a pilot and head of the Air Line Pilots Association union.

While people may want to rush to judgment when an arrest is made involving a public figure, it is important to remember that he has the same legal rights as everyone else, and that the allegations currently remain just that.

Source: WUSA, "FAA Administrator Charged with DWI in Va., On Leave From Work," Meta Pettus, Dec. 5, 2011

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