Pilots Below .10 Can't Be Prosecuted

Fla. Can’t Prosecute Intoxicated Airline Pilots

8/7/2003

A federal judge ruled that state law doesn’t permit Florida to
prosecute two former American West pilots who planned to operate a plane
while intoxicated, CNN reported Aug. 6.

Federal Judge Patricia Seitz in Miami, Fla., said that federal law
applies in the case of pilots Christopher Hughes and Thomas Cloyd. Both
were set to fly an America West jetliner from Miami to Phoenix, Ariz., on
July 1, 2002, with 124 passengers on board when the flight was recalled
by Miami-Dade police, tipped off to drinking by the pilots.

Cloyd was found to have a blood-alcohol level of .091, while Hughes
had a .084 level.

The DUI standard under federal law is .10 percent, while in Florida
it’s .08. Under the federal standard, the pilots would not be considered
legally drunk and therefore, not face criminal prosecution.

The ruling by Seitz upholds a motion filed by the pilots to dismiss
the state charges. In her ruling, Seitz said that federal law supersedes
state law with respect to pilot qualifications where there is no loss of
life, injury, or damage to property involved.

“The state lacks jurisdiction to prosecute them for matters that are
solely within the jurisdiction of the federal government,” said
Seitz.

The Miami-Dade County state attorney’s office said it would appeal the
judge’s ruling.

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