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Judge: State can keep US Airways from serving alcohol

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge has ruled New Mexico officials can keep US Airways from serving alcohol on its New Mexico flights after a passenger caused a drunken-driving crash that killed five people.

US Airways sued the state in 2007 after the New Mexico Regulation and License Department denied its application for a liquor license.

The Tempe, Ariz.-based airline argued that New Mexico has no authority to regulate on-board alcohol service, require alcohol training or enforce sanctions against the carrier because the state is pre-empted by federal law.

However, in a 24-page opinion issued late Wednesday, U.S. District Judge M. Christina Armijo found that neither the Airline Deregulation Act nor the Federal Aviation Act can pre-empt state liquor control laws.

A spokeswoman for US Airways Group Inc. says the airline is still reviewing the ruling and has no immediate comment.