Girgenti Hopes To Ground Drunk Pilots Through Tough Legislation

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator John A. Girgenti which would keep those in the air and on the ground safe by increasing the penalties for pilots and crew members who are impaired in the air was approved today by the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee.

“Although cases of flying while intoxicated are rare, even one occurrence is reason enough to create a tough law that will ensure that people will think twice about drinking before taking flight,” said Senator Girgenti, Chairman of the Senate Law, Public Safety and Veterans Affairs Committee. “It’s a tragedy when aircraft crashes are connected to alcohol and drug consumption because they could have been easily avoided if the airline employee only remained sober. In order to keep our citizens– both in the air and on the ground — protected, we need to create strict drug and alcohol regulations for aircraft pilots and crew members.”

The bill, S-882, would prohibit airline pilots and crew members from consuming alcohol or drugs within eight hours of their flight. The bill creates an implied consent provision for testing the blood alcohol level of anyone that appears to be under the influence.

According to Senator Girgenti, D-Bergen and Passaic, “The penalty for operating an aircraft while impaired would be similar to the penalty when driving a car under the influence. Pilots who fail the blood alcohol tests lose their medical certificates, which they need to continue flying,” added Senator Girgenti.

“The majority of airline employees are very careful about refraining from any alcohol before flying, but they need to be reminded that there are many legal drugs that will affect their ability to fly safely,” said Senator Girgenti.

The bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.