DUI in the Sky? Pilot with 0.17 BAC Pulled from JetBlue Flight

While more and more airplane passengers are witnessing bad behavior on flights, most people would still be surprised to see their pilot get escorted off a plane by airport police. For some passengers headed to Florida from New York on March 2, 2022, they witnessed the odd sight.

Their pilot was escorted off the plane for being under the influence of alcohol.

Pulled from the Plane Before Take Off

An early morning flight leaving Buffalo, New York, heading to Ft. Laduerdale, Florida, was delayed when the pilot needed to be removed.

Just before take-off, airport police officers brought a portable breathalyzer test into the cockpit and asked the pilot to take the test.

According to a statement from Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority (NFTA), there was reason to believe the pilot was under the influence. While the pilot was going through security, “a TSA officer noticed that he may have been impaired.” The agent notified NFTA authorities who approached the pilot and gave him a breathalyzer.

The result revealed that the pilot had a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.17.  

In New York, the legal BAC for driving is 0.08. The pilot was more than double the legal driving BAC limit of the state. But, pilots do not abide by state laws for driving under the influence. They have their own set of standards for alcohol.

Federal regulations say that pilots are not allowed to fly planes if they have a BAC of 0.04 or higher. Pilots are also prohibited from having consumed alcohol within the eight hours leading up to a flight.

Upon the results of the breathalyzer, the pilot, James Clifton, 52 of Orlando, was immediately removed from the plane and taken into custody by NFTA police.

Related: If You’re Arrested for a Crime, Immediately Take These 6 Steps

Did the Pilot Break the Law?

Clifton has not delivered a statement about the incident, although according to TSA spokeswoman Helen Tederous, Clifton told authorities he had between seven and eight drinks the night before the early morning flight, as reported by PEOPLE.

Clifton had a BAC over the legal limit for pilots. He is said to have had drinks the night before the morning flight, but it has not been determined if it was eight hours before the flight. According to reporting by the Tampa Bay Times, Clifton’s co-pilot said he had dinner with Clifton the night before the flight. Clifton remained at the restaurant after his co-pilot left.

NFTA removed Clifton from the plane, notified the federal authorities, and released him to JetBlue security personnel.

The airplane took off four hours later with a new pilot.

Related: What to Expect From a First Offense DUI

What Will Happen to the Pilot?

In a statement, Derek Dombrowski, a JetBlue spokesperson said, “The safety of JetBlue’s customers and crewmembers is our first priority. We adhere to all DOT rules and requirements concerning alcohol at all times and have a very strict zero tolerance internal alcohol policy.”

“We are aware of the incident that occurred in Buffalo Wednesday and are cooperating fully with law enforcement. We are also conducting our own internal investigation. The crew member involved has been removed from his duties,” the spokesperson continued.

In addition to being the subject of JetBlue’s investigation, Clifton will also be investigated by federal authorities.

TSA spokesperson Tederous said Clifton may face federal charges.

While it’s unclear at this time what charges Clifton may face, there could be a DUI equivalent. There could be other charges related to recklessness or endangerment or even potentially crimes related to attempt.

In 2002, two pilots faced serious consequences after they were stopped just minutes before taking off from Miami International Airport and found to have BAC levels over 0.08.

The men were charged with operating an aircraft under the influence and operating a motor vehicle under the influence. Three years later, both men lost their commercial pilot licenses. One man was sentenced to 2 ½ years in prison and the other to 5 years in prison, as reported by the South Florida Sun Sentinel.

Talk to a DUI Attorney Today

No matter what type of vehicle you’re driving, getting a DUI is a serious matter.

If you have been arrested for a DUI, it’s important to talk to a DUI attorney right away. If you need advice after a DUI or a DUID, talk to attorney TJ Grimaldi today. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023.

The 10 Days After a DUI arrest

should_I_Blow_if_i_get_pulled_overNobody wants to get arrested for a DUI, but when it happens, you need preparation and a strategy. In the 10 days after a DUI arrest, you might feel confused and scared, but you can do several things to make the process easier and less stressful. Contact the DWI Guys in Albany and get all the details.

Get a Lawyer

As soon as you’re able, hire a DUI lawyer to take your case. He or she can advise you on what to say and do as you navigate the legal process. Additionally, an experienced DUI attorney can prevent you from compromising your rights or the outcome of your case.

Prepare for Potential Consequences

The consequences of a DUI arrest can vary depending on the circumstances. Hence , avoiding a charge for DUI is one of the best ways to overcome drunk driving consequences.  For instance, arrestees might get lighter sentences for their first offenses, but if you already have a DUI in your background, you might face harsher penalties.

The typical consequences of a DUI include the following:

  • Fines: If you plead guilty or are found guilty of a DUI, you’ll have to pay fines to the state. The maximum fines depend on various aggravating factors being present such as prior DUI’s, high breath alcohol results, and causing injuries to others.
  • Jail time: Many DUI offenders must spend time in jail. After you’re arrested, you’ll likely stay in jail until you appear before the court. At that time, you might get released, or you might have to post bail.
  • License suspension: To discourage further incidents of drunk driving, most jurisdictions suspend the driver’s licenses of people who get DUIs. The duration of the suspension can vary, and The State of Florida allows under certain conditions for you to apply for a hardship license that allows you to drive only in certain circumstances, and sometimes with a device that can detect alcohol on your breath.

Administrative Consequences Before Conviction

Once you are arrested for a DUI in Florida, there are certain administrative consequences that can severely and adversely impact you EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE NOT BEEN FOUND GUILTY OF ANY CRIME BY A COURT OF LAW. You can get more info here. These administrative consequences include the suspension of your drivers’ license for a period of six (6) to twelve (12) months.  This suspension will take effect (10) days after your arrest, depending on the facts of your case.  While hardship licenses that permit you to drive for limited purposes can be obtained, there are certain time limitations and other hoops you will have to jump through to determine if you can obtain a hardship license.   If you don’t exercise your rights and take certain steps during this first ten (10) days, you will potentially lose certain rights that could keep your license from being suspended or will prolong the headache and hassle and extend the length of time it takes to get a hardship license.  An experienced DUI lawyer can help you navigate these requirements and assist you in minimizing the length of time of your suspension and how long it may take get a hardship license.

Create a Strategy

If you’re pleading not guilty to a DUI arrest, you’ll need compelling evidence to suggest that you were not intoxicated at the time of your arrest. Your lawyer can help you build a case.

Getting arrested for a DUI can be scary, but if you know what to expect, you can handle the situation with less anxiety. For help fighting your DUI case, call McIntyre Thanasides at 844-511-4800 to speak to an experienced DUI lawyer.


A New Bill in Florida Requires an Ignition Interlock for First Time DUI Offenders

dui ignition interlockIn a recent attempt to crack down on driving under the influence (DUI), a new bill (HB949) has just passed the Transportation and Infrastructure committee that comprises of defense lawyer for DUI charges in the Florida House of Representatives. If passed, this bill will require all first-time offenders to install an ignition interlock device in their vehicle. While it still needs to pass through two more committees before making it to the House floor, it is important to know what this bill will mean for you.The new bill apparently gives a second chance to anyone getting a first-time DUI. An ignition interlock device makes self-check easier, and people can avoid driving if found drunk above the limit.

Court Requirements

While all 50 states have some sort of ignition interlock requirement for repeat offenders, 28 other states currently have laws similar to HB949.  At this time, under Florida law, first time DUI offenders are only required to have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is higher than .15{7dff60334df83244b79b5471a8769907d27e202ac622cbe5ff51878e61595e62}, if there was a minor in the vehicle, or if it has been court-ordered. Repeat offenders are required to install the device, no matter their BAC. This new bill will make it mandatory for all first-time offenders to install the ignition interlock device for a least six months after their conviction.  Legislators hope that this bill will prevent first time offenders from repeating.

What are Ignition Interlock Devices?

An ignition interlock device is essentially a breathalyzer plugged into a vehicle. The driver must breathe into the device in order to start the vehicle. The device will then beep five minutes later, as a reminder to breathe into it again. The driver must retest every half hour. The data will be recorded and sent to the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles, and will then be accessible online. The device itself costs $70 to install, requires monthly calibration at a specific facility, which will cost $67, along with a $100 safety deposit. If the offender cannot afford it, the court can order part of the offender’s fine to cover the expenses.

If you, or a loved one, is facing a DUI charge, our lawyers at McIntyre Thanasides can help you. Experienced in Florida DUI law, our criminal defense attorneys will fight for your case, whether you are a first-time or a repeat offender. Have you been pulled over and faced with the decision to blow or not to blow into a breathalyzer? Our lawyers can advise you on how to proceed. Contact us today for a consultation at (844)511-4800.

Should I blow if I get pulled over?

should_I_Blow_if_i_get_pulled_overShould I blow if I get pulled over?

To blow, or not to blow? While the simplest and safest solution is to avoid drunk driving or driving impaired, here are some things to consider if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being asked to blow if you get pulled over.

In Florida, asking you to submit to a breath test to determine your blood alcohol content, or BAC, is not something that will generally happen when you are first pulled over. Therefore, to answer the question, it’s important to consider what has already taken place prior to an officer asking you to submit to a breath test.

Generally, a police officer will have pulled you over for one of these reasons:

  • you and/or your vehicle fit the description of a suspect person and/or vehicle being sought by police in an ongoing investigation;
  • your vehicle is registered to a driver who has a warrant out for their arrest;
  • your vehicle is registered to a driver who’s license is currently suspended; or
  • you must have, in the officer’s opinion, committed some type of law violation or traffic infraction in an officer’s presence that would warrant being stopped for safety reasons, or potentially ticketed or arrested.

If they confirm you are driving on a suspended license, you are immediately subject to arrest and the officer may do so. If you have a warrant out for you, you will in all likelihood be arrested.  If you are the suspect they are looking for, there are a variety of outcomes that are beyond the scope of this article that might lead to your release, further detention, or arrest.  Whichever of these that apply, they will all involve the officer making direct contact with you and confirming your identity. Whether or not you are arrested for any of the reasons listed here, your responses could still lead to a DUI investigation. In case of first-time DUI make sure you hire a fine lawyer so this doesn’t leave a bad mark.

If the only basis for your stop is your driving activities, there are a host of traffic violations that are committed every day by people who are completely sober that also occur when people drive under the influence. Speeding, running traffic lights or stop signs, weaving in and out of your lane, making illegal lane changes, going the wrong way down a one-way street—none of these by themselves are proof of impaired driving. Even if you have crashed your vehicle, it is not by itself proof you are driving impaired. The bottom line here is that the improper driving involved in your case is a factor the officer will consider in assessing whether or not a DUI investigation is warranted.

Once the officer confirms your identity, he or she will have spoken to you, and the officer will have had the ability to observe your demeanor, your speech, how you physically appear, how you smell, and how responsive and alert you are. They also will have an opportunity to observe a portion of the interior of your vehicle.  It is during this interaction that officers will note the odor of an intoxicant—alcohol on breath or clothes, marijuana on breath, clothes, in compartment of car, etc.; the appearance of factors that indicate impairment—bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, grogginess, confusion, etc.; the presence of items that suggest recent use of intoxicants—empty or open containers of alcohol, devices used for smoking controlled substances, or residue or portions of smoked controlled substances, pills or pill bottles, etc. Observing any one or number of these indicators, in conjunction with your poor driving, is enough for the officer to request you perform field sobriety tests to better determine if you are driving impaired.

If you agreed and have performed these tests, you will see that to successfully complete them, you need to be focused and pay attention to every detail of the instructions an officer has given you, and possess a certain degree of balance, strength and agility that the average person is presumed to have when sober, but in reality might not actually possess for any number of reasons including but not limited to poor health, prior injury or preexisting medical condition, obesity, and fatigue. People can click here if they need the best dental and health care services.

An officer will have graded and evaluated your test performance, and in conjunction with their other observations of you, as well as your driving, and determined if he or she has seen enough to determine there is probable cause to believe you are driving under the influence of some drug. They will then proceed to place you under arrest for D.U.I.

It is generally only NOW that you will find yourself being presented with a question about your willingness to submit to a breath test. A BAC test result of .08 or higher will be considered presumptive evidence that you are driving under the influence, and a jury at a trial will be instructed that they can convict you based on that presumptive test result alone if they believe it to be correct. So this is no small decision you’re facing.

As you’ve seen, a number of things have to have transpired that are working against you for you to reach this point; and while there may very well be a series of innocent explanations for all of these things to have occurred without you being impaired, odds are, you actually are under the influence of something, possibly even to the extent your normal faculties are impaired. Whether it’s alcohol, an illegal drug, or even just a medication you actually have a valid prescription for, any of those can support a D.U.I. charge.

But a breath test will only test for the presence of one of them—alcohol.

SO, the answer to the question, “should I now blow or not”, is, in my opinion, NO, in almost every case.

There are three factors that contribute to that answer in Florida.

They are:

  • There are risks of false positives:

Even without alcohol in your system, or with small enough amounts that by themselves would not be enough to contribute to impairment, there are a number of things that can cause false or exaggerated results in a breathalyzer machine. You can glean what those are from the limited “YES” answer conditions listed below. They include over the counter products, dental work, and certain medical conditions.

  • You can be subjected to additional testing even if breath test results are low or completely negative:

The only reason anyone agrees to testing of their breath is to avoid the consequences of breaching their contract with the state of Florida to get and keep a valid drivers’ license. Don’t remember what contract that is or what you agreed to? Not surprising, since many of us agreed to it when we were 16 years old and got our first license. Don’t worry, the officer will remind you of it when he reads you Florida’s “Implied Consent” Law when he’s asking you to submit to a breath test. It’s the part about losing your license for a year if you refuse to do the test.

So let’s say you agree to do the test.  Even if you haven’t drunk much or any alcohol at all, if you come in below the .08 BAC legal limit, you’re not necessarily out of the woods yet.

If you blow below .08, congratulations, you are not automatically presumed to be driving while impaired. However, anything above a .05, which could result from one (1) or to two (2) drinks, depending on a host of factors unique to you, can be considered by a jury in deciding if you are guilty or not. They’ll have to decide from that, your driving, and your field sobriety test performance, which in most cases will be videotaped at the scene and contain the bulk of your conversation with the officer.

If it’s .05 or less, the jury will actually be told that there’s a presumption against impairment, but the prosecution could still go forward if the other factors are perceived to be strong enough against you—really bad driving, admission of drinking, epically bad performance of field sobriety tests, etc.

Also, if it’s that low, or even 0.0, it is entirely likely that an officer will then request you submit to additional testing, most likely urine but possibly blood testing as well. Why? Because, if the breath test results are to be believed, and the officer still suspects that you are under the influence of SOMETHING, given the rest of what they’ve learned in their investigation, the likely assumption is its some other drug or medication.

Now, while breath testing will only test for alcohol, urine and blood tests will show other drugs as well. Various drugs will leave indicators of their presence in your system that can be detected by these tests. And, while many drugs dissipate very quickly and will not show up in such tests, that’s actually bad news for you if they do. The quick ones being detected indicate recent use prior to driving—bad for your case. Some drugs stay in your system long enough that it’s hard to say when you last used them or if you were under the influence of them at all while driving. The best example of this is marijuana. It can be detected in urine and blood tests for at least thirty (30) days after its last use. However, there have been recent attempts to identify other chemicals present in marijuana that break down more rapidly to zero in on when they were last used to within a few hours of the test.

If you think that you can now just decline this additional test, without consequence, you’re wrong. Refusing this additional testing results in the same suspension issues that refusing that first breath test carried—a yearlong suspension for a first time refusal. So unless you’re completely drug free, don’t think a low or no alcohol result will win the day for you if you’ve got other medications or drugs in your system.

  • Actual consequences/benefits of refusal in Florida:

If it is your FIRST alleged DUI Offense, and, more importantly, if it is the FIRST time you are potentially refusing to submit to a breath test, then unless you meet all the criteria listed below for a potential “YES” answer, then the potential benefits of refusing may outweigh the negative consequences.

Here’s why.

The administrative penalty for a first time refusal is a twelve (12) month license suspension; but the administrative penalty for blowing over the legal limit is a six (6) month license suspension. In either case, if, during the first ten (10) days after your DUI stop, you pay for and enroll in a Level I DUI School, and you execute a written waiver of your right to an administrative review hearing to challenge your administrative suspension at your local DHSMV Administrative Office, you can then obtain permission to get a Hardship License for the ENTIRE length of either suspension.

Tampa DUI Attorneys

A business purposes hardship license will let you drive legally for limited essential purposes such as getting to and from work, school, medical appointments, and religious services. Now while there will be costs associated with this, if the end result is the same (just twice as long) if you don’t blow or blow over the limit, why risk giving the prosecution a breath result that can be provided to a jury and from which they will be instructed they can presume you were impaired?

Any DUI lawyer helping those facing DUI charges would rather argue your case without a damning breath result.  Moreover, if the basis for your stop was something common like speeding, and you look and sound okay doing your field sobriety tests, it gives your attorney a chance to negotiate with the prosecutor on your behalf from a much stronger position than when there is a breath result over the limit.

But, for those interested in knowing when it might EVER be advisable to take the breath test, I’ll go ahead and said YES, it’s possible. BUT, it is only when ALL of the following circumstances are present that I would advise you MIGHT consider actually blowing:

  • You have not had any alcohol to drink in the previous 12 hours—assuming you did not consume more than half a case of beer or its equivalent in wine or spirits in the past 13 hours;
  • You have not recently used products containing alcohol, including breath sprays, cough syrup, cold medicine, mouth wash or even lip balm;
  • You do not suffer from any form of Diabetes or GERD (Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease);
  • You do not have dentures or bridge work in your mouth;
  • You have not recently used an asthma inhaler;
  • You have not used a smokeless tobacco product;
  • You have not taken any medications in the past thirty-six (36) hours, regardless of whether or not you have a prescription for them;
  • You have not taken any illegal drugs or controlled substances in more than forty-five (45) days;
  • You are over the age of 21;
  • You do not tend to burp or belch a lot after having consumed alcohol;
  • You are not on a low-carb diet;
  • You do not suffer from any conditions that may cause you to be unable to submit a large enough breath sample, including, but not limited to Asthma, Bronchitis, COPD, Emphysema, Fibrosis, Scoliosis, or any congenital lung disease;
  • You are a not a professional painter or did not recently paint in a confined space;
  • You do not drive a vehicle that uses E85 or other ethanol based fuel products.

So if you think you’re covered on all of these and are so inclined, you might end up with a BAC result you and you’re DUI lawyer can live with and make use of in your defense. But realistically, in Florida, for a first time offense, it’s just not worth the risk in my opinion.

If you or someone you know has been charged or arrested for DUI or any criminal traffic offense in the greater Tampa Bay Area, the McIntyre Thansasides law firm in Tampa has experienced attorneys with decades of experience defending criminal defendants.

For a free consultation and evaluation of your case, call 844-511-4800 today.

Arrive Alive, Florida campaign: What you need to know

Whenever a fatal crash occurs on one of our roads, somebody loses a son, daughter, brother, sister, spouse or friend. In an effort to keep Florida citizens safe on the road, the Florida Highway Patrol reinitiated the “Arrive Alive” campaign across the state.

Arrive Alive was originally introduced in 1970 when fatal car crashes were at a peak. The initiative helped plateau the number of deadly accidents until the past three years. Unfortunately, fatal crashes in Florida have recently been on an unexpected rise. According to the information given by DUI lawyers for hire, causes often include unclear signs or paint on the roads, cell phone distractions and DUI incidents.

Between 2014 and 2015, Florida faced a 17.7 percent increase of fatal car crashes. Major Joseph Franza, the commander of Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) Troop C, which services Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Polk, Hernando, Citrus and Sumter Counties, said at a news conference last month that he “would not stand for that,” reinitiating the Arrive Alive effort.

Rather than having FHP troops monitor roads that are quick and easy places to write tickets, Franza told attendees of the news conference that troops will patrol places where deadly crashes frequently occur. By targeting the specific locations of fatal crashes, necessary changes can be made to prevent them in the future. Sometimes these changes are as simple as a fresh paint job on road lines or adding additional, clear signage. Here is what happens after a DUI and what one can do to get the necessary help with such charges.

In every case, however, road safety starts with the drivers. Be cautious, attentive and responsible to keep yourself and others safe on the road so you can “Arrive Alive.”

If you or somebody you know has been involved in a personal injury case related to a car accident, you are not alone. At McIntyre Law Firm in Tampa, we have attorneys proficient in personal injury, especially regarding auto crashes and DUI cases.

If you or someone you know has been charged or arrested for any criminal traffic offense in the Tampa Bay Area, The McIntyre Law Firm in Tampa has experienced attorneys with decades of experience defending criminal defendants.

For a free consultation and evaluation of your case, call 844-511-4800 today.

Tips to Avoid DUI During the Holidays

DUI_holidaysDuring the holiday season, our nation’s roads become more congested as travelers head out to visit with friends and family to celebrate. Your calendar is probably filling up with holiday party requests. These parties often involve alcohol and you may encounter a greater number of drivers who are impaired by alcohol on the roads this time of year. The statistics can be quite frightening – and unfortunately, the number of fatalities year after year from accidents that involve alcohol-impaired drivers is so consistent that it has become very predictable.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving reports that 52% of fatal car accidents on Christmas Day and 57% of traffic fatalities on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day will be directly attributable to alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 25,000 traffic injuries will results from alcohol consumption during this time of year. Calling in an attorney that is handling a DUI case is important to figure out your case. You could be getting a lawyer for DUI charges and they can handle everything else.

One of the most important things to remember is that you can avoid DUI through proper planning. If you are heading to a party where alcohol will be served, keep these tips in mind to help prevent DUI:

  • Before any drinking begins, designate a driver who will stay sober and see that everyone has a safe ride home.
  • Bring money for a cab ride or request an Uber take you home. Both means of transportation will allow you to enjoy yourself and make it home safely, without putting yourself or other drivers in harm.
  • For Florida residents, AAA and Bud Light are offering a service called Tow 2 Go, which provides a safe and confidential ride home or to a safe location within a 10 mile radius. Visit their site for a holiday schedule, and to request a ride dial (855) 2-TOW-2-GO or (855) 286-9246.
  • If you know someone who is about to drive while impaired, take their keys and help them make other arrangements to get to where they are going safely.
  • If you happen to see a impaired driver on the road, don’t hesitate to contact local law enforcement or dial *FHP (*347). Your phone call could save a life.

Remember, possession of an open alcoholic beverage container in a vehicle (in motion or stopped) by the driver and or the passenger is a violation of Florida law.

If you or a loved one are involved in a collision with an intoxicated driver or if you face charges related to DUI, our firm can help. Contact TJ Grimaldi at McIntyre Thanasides Bringgold Elliott Grimaldi & Guito, P.A. today.

DUI Hot Spots in Tampa Bay – What You Need to Know

shutterstock_112847788A local news station recently released the top areas in Tampa Bay where the most DUI-related car accidents occur in Hillsborough, Pinellas and Pasco counties. Their research is based upon thousands of DUI crash records that involved either injuries or fatalities,or those that reached Casper law firm helping to cope with DUI claims, dating back over the last six years.

Below are the 10 most dangerous intersections by county:

  • I-275 at I-4 (ranked as the number one DUI hot spot with 34 accidents, 13 injuries and two fatalities)
  • The Howard Franklin Bridge at West Shore Plaza
  • I-75 at State Road 60 and East Hillsborough Avenue at Orient Road


  • 34th Street North and Ulmerton (ranked as the number one DUI hot spot in Pinellas County with 36 DUI crashes, 18 injuries and two fatalities)
  • Four different intersections on U-S 19 between Palm Harbor and Clearwater


  • U-S 19 at Sunray Drive and U-S 19 at State Road 595 (ranked as top two most dangerous intersections in Pasco County with 44 accidents and 21 injuries)
  • I-75 at State Road 54 in Wesley Chapel (third most dangerous with 19 crashes, 8 injuries and one fatality)

For an interactive map showing the various locations and the number of incidents reported, click here.

Attorney TJ Grimaldi commented on the DUI hot spot research findings and said, “There are so many options now for transportation, if you are going to drink leave your car keys at home. It is the safest way to assure that you make it home alive. But if you find yourself in a position of being charged with a DUI contact me as I can help fight the lasting effects that the DUI will have on you.”

If you have questions related to DUI or accidents resulting from DUI in Tampa Bay, please contact attorney TJ Grimaldi today.