Drunk-Flying Law Tried Again

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The sometimes conflicting dynamics of political expediency and common sense will get another test in Pennsylvania as a state representative continues her campaign to make it illegal to fly drunk there. You may recall an earlier effort to pass the Flying While Impaired Bill was shot down by Gov. Ed. Rendell ... at least in part because some enterprising legislators saddled it with an amendment to fund rural bus service, which Rendell opposed. He vetoed the whole package and now legislators are trying again. "We're looking to see that it doesn't get too many amendments this time," said Rep. Kate Harper, who cosponsored the bill with Rep. Kathy Watson and Rep. Jacqueline Crahalla. One of the most high profile examples of reckless flying inspired the effort to fill the legal vacuum. It was about 14 months ago that Limerick, Pa., pilot John Salamone took off in his Piper Cherokee on a three-hour tour of some of the country's busiest airspace, causing airline pilots and air traffic controllers fits as he buzzed busy airports and got in the way of passenger planes. Prosecutors said he blew .15 after he landed. Lacking an impaired flying law, authorities charged him with reckless endangerment and risking a catastrophe, for which he was sentenced to six to 23 months in jail. Under the proposed impaired flying law, he would have faced a minimum 72-hour jail sentence and $5,000 fine, and could have been ordered to undergo drug and alcohol counseling.