In DC, Friends Don't Let Friends Drive.

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Or at least they shouldn't, as your chances of getting pulled over and arrested–even if your blood alcohol content is below the legal limit!–are pretty damn swell.

D.C. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey yesterday defended officers who arrest drivers with blood alcohol levels below the legal limit, and amid growing criticism of the department's "zero tolerance" policy, he insisted that officers continue to be able to use their discretion.

"We do have a policy that if a person is driving a motor vehicle and appears to be impaired in any way, then they can certainly be charged and tried for driving under the influence," Ramsey said. "It's in the judgment of the arresting officer."

Whole Post account here.

This zero-sense, zero-tolerance policy courtesy of the same law-enforcement Einstein who recently cited higher rates of collisions after the installation of traffic surveillance cameras as a sign of that policy's success.

NEXT: Public Television Panel in L.A.

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  1. I look forward to the “Less Than Zero” tolerance policy training video, starring Elvis Costello as a wobbly but still-angry street performer.

  2. sigh. DC getting Sweden-esque laws.

    equally funny: here in chitown there’s a ban on yapping on the cell phone (without handsfree) in the car. Yesterday evening, on the way home, an unmarked cop car was driving erratically and actually swerved violently at one point. the cop had the cell phone tucked under the ear and was talking on it while eating a chocolate ice cream cone.

    strange fucking world.

  3. I lived in DC. I remember the Metro cops. Use their judgement? Left to the discretion of the arrresting officer? If toilet flushing was left to those idiots’ discretion, the streets would be running with sewage.

  4. DC is such a fucking joke.

    I bought a sidearm recently, and the sales receipt clearly states that it is “illegal” that I sell my weapon to a DC resident. It didn’t say anything about convicted nun-muggers and baby-rapers, so I assume those options are still available to me.

  5. As the definition of discretion is “Ability or power to decide responsibly,” I think a defense lawyer worth his salt should be able to prove that some traffic cops do not possess any.

  6. Are the DC cops that bored? I live in PG County and on SEVERAL occasions, I’ve blatantly run stop lights or stop signs right in front of cops. They never pull me over because they never care. There are bigger fish to fry.

    Getting smarter cops doesn’t seem likely to happen anytime soon, so I guess what I’m saying is that if we want this zero-tolerance policy to go away, we need more murders and rapes. Wait, that doesn’t sound right at all…

  7. Bama,

    DC has lousy cops for the same reason it has lousy talent on the local news shows. Anybody who demonstrates any ability at all is immediately snapped up to the national level.

  8. Joe,

    Is that why we still have news anchors that say “Amblance”?

  9. Friends don’t let friends live in DC.

  10. And that’s a good reason tonight’s gathering is in Arlington.

    Not that it’s a *lot* better there, mind you…

  11. You people are nuts. DC is Disneyland for adults. It’s New Orleans North. Why would you go out in the suburbs?

  12. DC’s a great town!

    DC was the last place in the country to raise the drinkin’ age to 21. …I just made the grandfather clause.

    DC has a permanent budget crisis ’cause it can’t tax the frick out of the suburbs like other cities. …I suspect they rely on variable income streams like fines more heavily than other towns. …but DC’s a great town.

    Why would you go out in the suburbs?

    It used to be you could live in the country around DC–near horse farms, etc.–and still be just 30 minuites from culture. …LA sucks that way. an hour in any direction and you’re still in the sprawl. …and don’t even get me started about the lack of culture!

    It could be worse, I guess. …I could live in Boston!

  13. No, I mean “go out,” as in, “go out for the evening.”

  14. On what basis are these drivers charged if their alcohol level is below the legal limit? And if they are not charged because it was below the limit (which the arresting officer knew at the time), do the “perpetrators” not have a simple case of false arrest on their hands? It seems a clear case of arresting people for crimes the arresting officer is well aware they did not commit.

  15. “It seems a clear case of arresting people for crimes the arresting officer is well aware they did not commit.”

    Based on the articles I’ve read on this (and the quote in the original post), at least in DC the .08 limit is merely the point at which a presumption of driving under the influence is established (i.e., it becomes the driver’s burden to prove they weren’t intoxicated). Anyone with a lower degree of alcohol in their bloodstream can be found guilty if the prosecutor can prove their driving was impaired.

  16. You people are nuts. DC is Disneyland for adults. It’s New Orleans North. Why would you go out in the suburbs?

    Because we live and work there, too. I only go into DC to drop off and pick up my wife from work, for major events (MCI Center, Nationals games, etc.), or if specifically invited somewhere.

    Otherwise, within walking distance of my office in Arlington, there are umpteen bars, restaurants and other great places to socialize. Heck, there are four of them directly below me in the plaza: An Italian restaurant w/a great bar, an American-style place that’s more of a neighborhood bar, a Thai restaurant and a sushi place. Within two blocks are at least ten great bars/restaurants including the one the H&R-ers are meeting at tonight. Rhodeside, Four Courts, Ragtime, Dr. Dremo’s, Whitlow’s, Clarendon Grill . . . Arlington’s a GREAT place to go out, it’s Metro accessible, and it’s one of the top walking communities in the country.

  17. Well, I’m definitely not the biggest fan of DC, but man, do I take umbrage with the notion that NoVa is a place to go out.

    If you’re in your 30s and you hate blacks, Old Town Alexandria is a great place to go walking around (I’m not referencing anyone with this comment, so relax, people).

    Personally, I’m in my mid-20s and I’d rather avoid the NoVA area at all cost. I simply cannot stand people who think their lives are interesting because they’re consultants or work as an Assistant Paper Stapler for some Congressman no one’s heard of or cares about.

    Granted, to each his own. Moreover, I am in no way insisting I have a monopoly on cool. But that area just doesn’t work for me.

    I don’t know, it just seems like northern Virginia is where dreams go to die.

  18. We’re talking Washington DC..right – with one of the highest muder rates in the nation..and the Chief’s focus is on zero tolerance for alcohol?

    Pardon me but the one time I made the mistake of taking a train into Union Station it was all I could do to get out of the station with my wallet by all the crack dealers..good idea Chief..

    What a joke..that city – er..is Marion Barry still in office there?

  19. Yeah, joe, Disneyland. With the attendant regulations and attractions that promise to be better than they really are. As well, as, I dunno, the whole reason for this post to exist–that’s another reason we went out in NoVA.

    As for not a Bama, well, I guess if you equate blacks with crime, Old Town has no blacks.

  20. I lived in DC. I remember the Metro cops. Use their judgement? Left to the discretion of the arrresting officer? If toilet flushing was left to those idiots’ discretion, the streets would be running with sewage.

    They’re worse than you were there. In fact, they’re probably worse than I was that area — I don’t know what would make them any better in those 4 years, especially considering the sort of news I hear about them on this site.

    I think the crowning achievement of the DC police may have been when, during a manpower shortage, they neglected to thoroughly check (apparently) the criminal records of their applicants, and managed to hire something like 80 felons to be police, most of whom were in still in place a couple years later when they finally bothered to sift through the records.

  21. Pardon me but the one time I made the mistake of taking a train into Union Station it was all I could do to get out of the station with my wallet by all the crack dealers..good idea Chief..

    Oh, please, Drama Queen. I’ve been in Union Station a dozen times in the past year, and have never even as much as been given an ugly stare.

    Bama, sorry you don’t see the entertainment value in the Rosslyn – Clarendon corridor in Arlington. I’ll take it over the overcrowded nonsense in Georgetown any day. Now, the whole joint up the Red Line — Dupont, Adams Morgan, Cleveland Park — that’s good times.

  22. We’re talking Washington DC..right – with one of the highest muder rates in the nation..and the Chief’s focus is on zero tolerance for alcohol?

    There’s parts of DC where you never want to go. I’d tell you where they are but in all the years I lived there, I never went to any of ’em.

    …Okay, well, I’ve driven through 14th Street on the way to Georgetown. …when 14th Street was bad. I don’t know if it’s still like that–I haven’t been home in so long… I heard they’re shuttin’ down Walter Reed–is that super freaky Walter Reed Medical Museum still open?

  23. Tom,
    14th street is scrubbed clean and yes the Walter Reed museum is still open, although it’s nothing compared to the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia.

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