Airplanes and airports are ripe with the opportunity to drink, and that can often lead to having a few more cocktails than you intend to. In fact, drinking before and during flights is so ubiquitous that, according to NBC News, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has requested that airports monitor passengers’ drinking.
In California, you cannot be arrested for simply being drunk on an airplane. However, there are certain rules that apply to passengers and airlines that may cause you to rethink having one too many. Learn what you can and can’t do on an airplane, and if you have more specific questions, don’t hesitate to get a free initial consultation with a California criminal defense lawyer from Simmrin Law.
Which Activities Are Illegal on an Airplane?
Technically, pilots are not allowed to let intoxicated passengers onto their plane, but only the pilot would get into trouble for letting that happen, not the passenger. While it’s not illegal to drink on an airplane – some flights even sell alcoholic drinks – it is illegal to do certain things that being drunk can lead to.
According to Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) §91.11, it is illegal to “assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember” while a plane is being operated, whether or not you are drunk. Intoxication often makes passengers more obstinate, which means a drunk passenger may be penalized for:
Interference with the Flight Crew
Interfering with the flight crew can look like any number of thing – basically, any failure to follow the instructions of a flight attendant, pilot, or other crew members. If you refuse to sit when asked, get out of the aisle, or put your mask back on, then you could be penalized for interfering.
You can be sober and interfere with the flight crew, but intoxication can make interference more likely and worse. Because of that, it’s not advisable to get too drunk on the airplane, especially if you know that you could become hard to deal with.
Interference with a crew member is generally a civil offense, which has less harsh penalties than a criminal offense might. The penalties for interfering with a crew member can range from simply being kicked off of the flight (when it’s on the ground, of course) to fines of up to $25,000.
Threatening or Assaulting a Crew Member
Threatening or assaulting a crew member while a plane is in operation can have more serious consequences. Assault is its own crime in California, but when you’re in the air, FAA regulations can be stricter than state laws might be.
The punishment for threatening or assaulting a crew member on a plane can include up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in damages. This punishment could be even more severe if the assault is done with a weapon.
If you’re charged with a crime on an airplane, it’s dealt with on a federal level, which means penalties are more severe. A criminal defense attorney in California can help you stand a chance of avoiding harsh punishment.
For a free legal consultation, call (310) 928-9347
Can You Drink on a Plane During COVID?
Yes, you can drink on a plane, as long as you replace your mask between sips. At this time, many airlines have started serving food and drink on their flights again, but federal law does require that all passengers wear their masks.
Can You Bring Your Own Alcohol on a Plane?
Yes, you can bring your own alcohol on a plane, but you can’t drink it. FAA regulations require all alcoholic drinks consumed on an airplane to be served by flight attendants. Any alcohol that you do bring must be unopened and less than 140-proof (70% alcohol).
If you purchased a drink at a bar in the airport, then you cannot bring it on the plane with you unless it’s in an unopened retail container–meaning you can’t put the drink in your own sealable bottle.
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What Happens If You Commit a Crime on a Plane?
If you commit a crime on a plane, it is generally handled at a federal level, as opposed to a state or local level. That means federal prosecutors, a federal judge, and, if you’re sentenced to jail time, federal prison. A federal trial is more serious than a state or local trial, and your odds of getting out of a charge are slimmer.
If you’re charged with a federal crime because of something that happened on an airplane in California, a criminal defense attorney may be able to help. At your first meeting with one of our lawyers, we will listen to your story and tell you what there is to be done for your case.
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Talk to a California Criminal Defense Attorney for Free
It can be easy to lose track of yourself on an airplane and have one too many drinks. If you’ve been arrested for your conduct on an airplane, California criminal defense lawyers Simmrin Law Group can help you.
Call us or contact us online to get your FREE consultation with one of our attorneys. We want to help you stand a chance against the prosecutors in your case.