Pilot taken into custody at MSP airport on suspicion of being under the influence

An airline pilot was taken into custody at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport Friday morning after security agents at the airport say that they caught a whiff of alcohol on the pilot as he passed the agents near an elevator in the airport. No charges have yet been filed.

However, the pilot reportedly was booked at the Hennepin County Jail after a preliminary breath test was taken. The pilot was taken to Fairview Southdale Hospital to provide an evidentiary blood sample before being hauled down to the jail for booking. He was released without being charged. It is unclear when the toxicology tests of a blood sample will be completed.

Authorities claim that the PBT showed that the pilot registered somewhere above the 0.04 percent blood alcohol level set for pilots. Most drivers in Minnesota know that state DWI laws prohibit drivers from getting behind the wheel with an alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more. Generally, the law places greater restrictions on alcohol levels for specified drivers, such as bus drivers, commercial vehicle drivers, or a person under the age of 21.

Similarly, for pilots, the legal limit reportedly is set at 0.04 percent BAC to fly. Federal rules also prohibit pilots from drinking any amount of alcohol within the eight hours before flying.

Airport Police reportedly boarded an aircraft that was scheduled to take off from Minneapolis-St. Paul on a flight to La Guardia shortly before 6:00 Friday morning to confront the pilot.

Authorities say that officers and a Transportation Security Administration agent claim that the pilot smelled of alcohol as the officers passed the pilot while he waited for an elevator at the airport. The pilot made his way to the cockpit of the plane and reportedly was conducting pre-flight checks when airport police boarded the aircraft and took him into custody.

The pilot, a 20-year-veteran, reportedly has been suspended pending further investigation.


Max Keller has won countless jury trial cases involving misdemeanors and felonies, sex crimes, and DWI’s. He is a member of the Minnesota Society for Criminal Justice, which only allows the top 50 criminal defense attorneys in the state as members. Max is a frequent speaker at CLE’s and is often asked for advice by other defense attorneys across Minnesota.

Years of Experience: Approx. 20 years
Minnesota Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: State of Minnesota Minnesota State Court Minnesota Federal Court 8th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals State of Maryland

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