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Posted at 12:52 PM ET, 12/05/2011

FAA head Randy Babbitt placed on leave after drunk driving arrest in Fairfax

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration is on administrative leave after being charged with drunk driving Saturday night by Fairfax City police, according to the Department of Transportation.

FAA Administrator Jerome Randolph “Randy” Babbitt, 65, was arrested after being spotted driving on the wrong side of Old Lee Highway, according to the arresting officer.

Babbitt requested the leave and DOT officials are in discussions with legal counsel about Babbitt’s employment status, according to an agency statement. Neither the White House nor the Department of Transportation learned of Babbitt’s arrest until Monday afternoon, administration officials said.

Police pulled him over in the 3900 block of Old Lee Highway, about nine miles from his home in Reston at about 10:30 p.m. He was driving alone and cooperated with police, authorities said. Babbitt, 65, was taken to the adult detention center, where he was charged before being released on his own recognizance.

Deputy FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will take command of the federal agency, according to a statement from the Department of Transportation early Monday afternoon. The statement said the department had learned of the arrest just an hour earlier. Fairfax City police issued a press release on the arrest Monday morning.


(Manuel Balce Ceneta - AP)
Babbitt was alone in his vehicle and was not involved in any accident, police said.

Babbitt did not return a call left with the FAA press office.

Babbitt was sworn in as the FAA’s 16th administrator in June 2009. He is a veteran pilot and flew for 25 years for Eastern Airlines, according to his official biography.

Babbitt’s arrest information was made public in accordance with a Fairfax City police general order that says the arrest of public officials, including federal officials, for “any criminal charge or serious traffic charge (e.g. driving under the influence, reckless driving)” will be released.

Babbitt faces a Feb. 2 court appearance, said Sgt. Joe Johnson, a Fairfax City police spokesman.

Fairfax Police do not release the blood-alcohol level of those charged, or the results of roadside sobriety tests, said Johnson. State law defines DWI as a .08 blood alcohol concentration.

Staff writer Ed O’Keefe contributed to this report.

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