A United pilot has been sentenced to 10 months in jail for showing up to work drunk.
Carlos Roberto Licona, a United Airlines 757-200 first officer, showed up to Glasgow Airport reeking of alcohol last August. The stench was so strong that security checkpoint workers took notice and alterted airport authorities.
During the early stages of boarding, authorities boarded the flight and pulled him off — in front of 72 passengers already onboard. A breathalyzer test revealed that his blood alcohol content was 7x over the legal limit.
Doing his preliminary police interview, Licona told police, “I had a few beers with lunch yesterday with the rest of the crew and a few with dinner.”
But evidence emerged that Licona sat up late drinking. Several hours later a fresh blood test revealed that he was still at twice the legal limit.
Now in big trouble for violating §93(1)(b) of the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003, Licona faced 15 months of in jail.
Licona pleaded guilty, provided a sob story about battling long-term alcohol dependency and asserted he was a good family man and former military member who had just made a mistake.
Time out. I’ll opine here. That is no defense.
Anyway, because of his guilty plea a judge reduced his sentence to 10 months. Although Licona’s lawyer urged the judge to allow him to “finish” his alcohol treatment program instead of sitting in jail, the judge pointed out that Licona had not actually done anything to treat his addiction.
So now Licona will sit in a Scottish prison for almost a year. In case you are wondering, United immediately relieved him of his flying duties and has not paid him since last August, but has not fired him. While United may choose not to publicly declare if it disposes of this pilot, I see no other alternative. I am all about second chances, but not for this. Not for choosing to get drunk when you are responsible for the lives of 144 passengers.