The Road to Prohibition – Part 2

Posted by Lawrence Taylor on October 14th, 2005

Following up on yesterday’s post about Washington D.C.’s "zero tolerance" law:

Critics Say District’s DUI Policy Goes Too Far

Jailing Drivers for 1 Drink Called Wasting Resources

Washington Post, October 13. Officials with organizations that lobby for safe roads and tough drunken driving laws yesterday criticized the District’s zero-tolerance policy toward drinking and driving, saying that they’d never heard of it and that limited police resources should be devoted to those more obviously drunk.

Even D.C. Council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), who has sponsored legislation to lower the legal limit for drunken driving, said she was not aware that police officers are arresting drivers who have as little as .01 percent blood alcohol content — less than from drinking a glass of wine or beer — in their systems. Nor did she think that such a policy was a good idea….

But never underestimate the religious zeal of police and prosecutors:

Elizabeth Wingo, chief of the criminal section in the D.C. Attorney General’s Office, said her office prosecutes cases regardless of blood alcohol level, as long as there is sufficient evidence of impairment "We have zero tolerance for drunk driving. It doesn’t matter what your blood alcohol level is," Wingo said. "If you blow .02 and officers can tell you’re impaired, you’ll be arrested for DUI."

(I can still remember when, as a prosecutor so many years ago, my legal duty was to seek justice — not to defend the police regardless of the truth.)

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