CrimProf Blog

Editor: Kevin Cole
Univ. of San Diego School of Law

Thursday, October 20, 2005

You Can Go to DC, Have a Drink, and Not End Up in the Slammer...or Can You?

From "The D.C. Council voted [on Tuesday] to relax the city's "zero tolerance" drunken driving law, which allows drivers to be prosecuted for minimal amounts of alcohol in the bloodstream.  D.C. law gives police the authority to arrest drivers with blood alcohol levels above .01 but below .08, the level at which a driver is considered legally intoxicated in the District.  The council voted 9 to 3 for emergency legislation under which drivers with less than .05 blood alcohol would be presumed to be not intoxicated. Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D)...has 10 days to decide whether to veto it...

Council members introduced the measure after news reports highlighted cases in which drivers were arrested after drinking as little as a glass of wine. Members said they were worried about a drop-off in business for District bars and restaurants and concerned that the city's law was becoming a national joke...

Schwartz [(R-At Large) and author of the legislation] said her office has been inundated with calls, letters and e-mails since The Washington Post published the story last week of Debra Bolton, a 45-year-old energy lawyer and single mother of two, who was arrested in the District and spent five months fighting a charge of driving under the influence after drinking one glass of wine with dinner. Her blood alcohol level was .03...Council member Vincent B. Orange Sr. (D-Ward 5) said participants at a recent business meeting were jokingly warned not to have a glass of wine lest they be carted away.  "We need to send a clear and unequivocal message that you can come to the District of Columbia, have a drink and not end up in the slammer," Graham [D-Ward 1] said." Story... [Mark Godsey]

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