Most people associate DUI charges with driving a motor vehicle under the influence. However, a Maryland man is scheduled to appear shortly in DUI court for allegedly preparing to fly an airplane while intoxicated.
According to police in Manheim Township, the 41-year-old Upper Marlboro man was found in the pilot's seat of his airplane at Lancaster Airport on the evening of April 21. They say that the engine of the Piper Cherokee 180 was running. He had two passengers in the plane.
Police had been alerted to the man by an employee at a restaurant located inside the airport, although they say that's not where he became intoxicated. They say they found a bottle of alcohol inside the single-engine plane and noted that the man had bloodshot eyes and smelled like alcohol. Reportedly, the man refused to take a Breathalyzer and was unable to complete other field sobriety tests.
The pilot is facing a charge of flying while impaired, which is a second-degree misdemeanor. He has also been reported to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). He is free on $10,000 unsecured bail.
The airport director, who said he didn't know what the pilot's flight plans were, said this is the first instance he could remember of a pilot attempting to take off while under the influence from Lancaster Airport.
Obviously, a charge involving operating or attempting to operate any type of vehicle while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs is very serious. When an airplane is involved, the potential for serious injuries and damage is significant. Anyone charged with a crime like this one needs to ensure that he or she has experienced legal guidance.
Source: LancasterOnline, "Man charged with trying to fly plane out of Lancaster Airport while under influence of alcohol," Lindsey Blest, April 23, 2018