By Mike Pomranz
June 22, 2017
© Mark Waugh / Alamy Stock Photo

Last week, former JetBlue pilot Dennis Thomas Murphy Jr. was charged in federal court with operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence. The charge stems from an April 21, 2015 incident where Murphy allegedly registered a .111 percent BAC after a flight from Orlando to JFK. But as sad as that may sound, his explanation for the failed test might be even more appalling: According to documents, he blamed the results on the “gum that he was chewing.”

For the record, yes, some gums are sweetened with “sugar alcohols” such as sorbitol. But here’s some bad news for your “I’m drunk off gum” defense: Despite being called “sugar alcohols,” these compounds do not contain any alcohol. It would be similar to telling a psychiatrist you were “going bananas” because you had just eaten too many bananas.


Of course, nothing is particularly humorous about being accused of flying a plane with 151 passengers on board with a BAC nearly three times above the FAA limit of 0.04. If a pilot’s BAC is 0.1 or higher, they qualify for federal criminal charges of being under the influence which is why Murphy now faces up to 15 years in prison.

According to the New York Post, since leaving JetBlue, Murphy has been working as a substitute teacher – hopefully not in the science department. That subject wouldn’t appear to be his forte.