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Ex-FAA Chief's DWI Charge Doesn't Fly in Court

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By Andrew Chow, Esq. on May 11, 2012 9:15 AM

Ex-FAA Chief Randy Babbitt is now cleared for departure, after a judge dismissed an embarrassing DWI charge that led to his ouster from the agency.

Babbitt, 65, resigned his post in December after he was arrested for an alleged wrong-way DWI in Virginia. Babbitt underwent an alcohol breath test at the scene, but police initially declined to publicly release the results of that test.

Now we know why, thanks to evidence that Babbitt's DWI lawyer introduced at trial -- including video of Babbitt's arrest, which convinced the judge to toss his DWI charge, the Associated Press reports.

Police video showed former FAA Chief Randy Babbitt making a lawful left turn into a parking lot, according to the AP. That flies in the face of the arresting officer's report, which noted Babbitt was driving on the wrong side of the road.

On that evidence alone, the judge dismissed Babbitt's DWI charge, finding the officer had no legitimate reason for a traffic stop. The officer appeared to be acting on a "hunch" that Babbitt was driving drunk, the judge said.

Prosecutors didn't even get to present their case.

In opening statements, Babbitt's lawyer had also challenged his client's alcohol breath test. An initial test showed a .07% blood-alcohol level, which is below the legal limit, he said. The officer then tested Babbitt again until he got a .08% reading -- something police cannot do, Babbitt's lawyer argued.

As Babbitt's DWI dismissal shows, challenging an alcohol breath test and getting access to police video can be successful tactics in fighting a DWI charge. An experienced DWI attorney can help spot these kinds of deficiencies in a DWI case, which can lead to reduced charges or dismissal.

As for ex-FAA Chief Randy Babbitt, he seemed to forgive the officer who erroneously arrested him for DWI. "He certainly was acting in good faith," he said, according to the AP.

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