American Pilot Gets Jail Time for Flying While Under the Influence

( – The Delta Airlines pilot who was arrested last June in Scotland for reporting to work intoxicated was sentenced to 10 months in jail last week in an Edinburgh court, the Washington Post reported.

Lawrence Russell Jr., 63, was scheduled to pilot a flight from Edinburgh to New York’s JFK International Airport on June 16, 2023. About 80 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart, airport security found two Jägermeister bottles in Russell’s carry-on, one of which was half empty.

Authorities conducted a blood test on Russell which revealed that his blood alcohol level was 49 mg per 100 ml of blood. In Scotland, the legal limit for pilots is 20 mg per 100 ml of blood.

Russell was arrested for violating Britain’s Railways and Transport Safety Act of 2003 which bars transportation operators including airline pilots from reporting for work with a blood alcohol level exceeding the legal limit.

According to a March 19 statement from the Edinburgh Sheriff Court, Russell pleaded guilty and was sentenced by Sheriff Alison Stirling to 10 months imprisonment.

According to the court, the scheduled flight had to be canceled and Russell lost his job.

Under US federal rules, pilots are not allowed to consume alcohol within eight hours of flying. In the US, pilots with a blood alcohol level of anything over 0.04 are unauthorized to fly.

In a separate statement, Procurator Fiscal Lynne Barrie, the prosecutor for Lothian and Borders, said Russell “showed a reckless disregard for the safety” of passengers and crew, and that his actions could have “endangered many lives.”

In sentencing Russell, Sheriff Stirling took into account his “personal mitigation” and decision to plead guilty and reduced his sentence from 15 months to only 10 months.

Following his arrest, Russell went to rehab and completed a recovery program. The rehabilitation center diagnosed Russell with “Severe Alcohol Use Disorder” but told the court that it was in remission.

Sheriff Stirling noted Russell’s remorse and the support of his family when determining his sentence.

In the United States, pilots must wait for up to a year after a conviction to apply for an FAA flight certificate or license.

In an emailed statement, Delta told the Washington Post that Russell was no longer employed by the airline.

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