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FAA chief Randy Babbitt on leave of absence after drunken driving arrest

This handout provided by Fairfax County, Va. Sheriff's Office shows FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. Babbitt was placed on a leave of absence Monday and U.S. officials said his employment is under review following his arrest for drunken driving in suburban Northern Virginia. AP Photo/Fairfax County, Va. Sheriff's Office

This handout provided by Fairfax County, Va. Sheriff's Office shows FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt.
AP Photo/Fairfax County, Va. Sheriff's Office

(CBS/AP) WASHINGTON - Transportation Department officials are deciding how to handle Federal Aviation Administration chief Randy Babbitt's weekend arrest on a charge of drunken driving in suburban northern Virginia.

Babbitt was placed on a leave of absence Monday, and department officials are in "discussions with legal counsel" about his employment status, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood's office said in a statement Monday afternoon.

The Federal Aviation Administration is part of the Transportation Department. Babbitt is about halfway through a five-year term.

Babbitt, 65, was charged with driving while intoxicated after a patrol officer spotted him driving on the wrong side of the road and pulled him over around 10:30 p.m. Saturday in Fairfax City, Va., police in the Washington suburb said.

Babbitt, who lives in nearby Reston, Va., was the only occupant in the vehicle, police said. He cooperated and was released on his own recognizance.

LaHood has aggressively campaigned against drunken driving, and is working with police agencies and safety advocates on an annual holiday crackdown later this month. Safety advocates credit LaHood with doing more to raise the visibility of human factors in highway safety - including drunken driving, drivers distracted by cell phone use, and parents who fail to buckle in their children - than any previous transportation secretary.

Deputy FAA Administrator Michael Huerta will serve as acting administrator, the Transportation Department statement said.

  • Crimesider Staff

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