"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."
The changes would place alcohol levels from .05 to .079 in a "neutral zone" that would require other factors, such as sobriety field tests, to establish a driver's impairment. The changes would bring District law in line with that of Virginia, Maryland and other states.
It still remains to be seen whether Mayor Williams will sign the legislation.
Before yesterday's vote, Williams wrote the council a letter in which he questioned the need to change the law and said police are "not unfairly targeting drivers who have a drink at dinner." After the vote, he issued a statement that criticized the council's action.
Williams noted that six people in the District died last year in alcohol-related crashes in which the driver's blood alcohol level was less than .08.
"The fact that people are dying on the road is reason enough for us to think long and hard about undoing years of federal and local public safety messages that stress: 'Don't Drink and Drive,' " Williams wrote.
How disingenuous can the Mayor be? Six people died last year justifies arresting people who have had one glass of wine? Not hauling people to jail for having one drink is 'undoing years of federal and local public safety messages'? What a tool.
Maybe Mayor Williams just hasn't been teased enough at parties yet.
Members said they are concerned that the story was making headlines across the country and portraying the District as the last refuge of Prohibition. Ambrose said she attended a wedding in Maine this weekend and was teased about it. 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.
"The press is killing us," Orange said.
Note to press: Please keep killing them.