Archive for October 22nd, 2005

The Road to Prohibition – Part 4

Saturday, October 22nd, 2005

The latest in the continuing saga of Washington’s “zero tolerance” drunk driving laws:

D.C. Council Votes to Ease No-Tolerance DUI Law

Business Needs Cited; Mayor Faults Proposal

Washington Post, October 19 The D.C. Council voted yesterday 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), who called the bill “hastily written,'’ 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….

Members said they are concerned that the story was making headlines across the country and portraying the District as the last refuge of Prohibition….

“D.C. is once again open for business,” said council member Carol Schwartz (R-At Large), principal author of the legislation. She said visitors “can come in and have a glass of wine and not be harassed or intimidated.”

Again, I find it interesting (but not surprising) that there was little or no concern about the injustice of arresting and prosecuting obviously sober people for “drunk driving”. The reasons for the change in law are clear from the headlines: “Business Needs Cited”.

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