Ex–Alaska Airlines Pilot Arrested for Allegedly Flying Under the Influence

Ex–Alaska Airlines Pilot Arrested for Allegedly Flying Under the Influence
File photo by Alaska Airlines

If you're arrested for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in Los Angeles, a local prosecutor will haul you into court, and you'll ultimately be out nearly $16,000 in costs if you're nailed, according to the Auto Club of Southern California. 

If you're arrested for allegedly flying a commercial jetliner under the influence of alcohol, you're looking at a whole 'notha level of prosecutorial whoop-ass.

A former Alaska Airlines captain, David Hans Arnston, a 60-year-old from Newport Beach, is feeling the wrath of Big Government right about now. When you're accused of flying a commercial plane under the influence, it's a federal felony case.

Arnston was arrested Wednesday morning, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Los Angeles announced. A criminal complaint filed in federal court Tuesday alleges he operated a common carrier, such as a commercial jetliner, while under the influence of alcohol.

Feds say the pilot was caught by an Alaska Airlines random drug and alcohol test following flights on June 20, 2014, from San Diego to Portland, Oregon, and from Portland to John Wayne Airport in Santa Ana.

Two tests that day showed that he allegedly had blood alcohol content readings of 0.134 percent and 0.142 percent, federal prosecutors said.

When he arrived at John Wayne Airport and spotted the company drug tester that day, Arnston said, "I bet it's for me," according to an account from his copilot that day, feds said.

The blood alcohol content limit for flying a commercial jetliner is 0.10 percent, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. For driving a noncommercial vehicle on California's roads, it's 0.08 percent.

Alaska Airlines immediately removed Arnston from "safety-sensitive duties," and he soon retired, according to a statement from the office. 

The suspect was released this week on $25,000 bond. He was scheduled to appear in court for an arraignment Feb. 10.

"Those in command of passenger jets, or any other form of public transportation, have an obligation to serve the public in the safest and most responsible way possible,” said Eileen M. Decker, the U.S. Attorney for Los Angeles. "We cannot and will not tolerate those who violate the trust of their passengers by endangering lives."

If he's successfully prosecuted, Arnston faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.

That would be a serious grounding.


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