Pilot sentenced for operating aircraft while under alcohol influence

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WLNS) – A Florida man who was preparing to fly a plane while under the influence of alcohol has been sentenced in federal court.

Sean Fitzgerald, 36, of Boca Raton, was arrested in August 2016 when the pilot he was to fly with noticed Fitzgerald had slurred speech, the smell of alcohol on his breath, and bloodshot eyes.

The plane was at the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City and was being readied for a private charter to Massachusetts.

Fitzgerald had begun the pre-flight preparation process before he was arrested.

Among other tasks, he inspected the plane, completed systems checks, turned on the auxiliary power unit, and received clearance for the flight’s route from air traffic control.

When he was arrested his blood alcohol content measured 0.343 percent.

For drivers the legal limit for bodily alcohol in Michigan is .08.

Fitzgerald will serve 12 months and 1 day confinement, 3 years of supervised release, and pay a $5,500 fine.

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