This very special episode of the the Angry Libertarian Alliance is brought to you by the latest abuse of government power by the DC Police (and DMV). As this WaPo story relates, Debra Bolton had a glass of wine with dinner and ended up in jail for blowing a .03. Let me repeat that for emphasis, 'point oh fucking three.' Most of you are probably thinking that that's well below the legal limit, and it is. However,
Bolton, 45, an energy lawyer and single mother of two who lives in Alexandria, had just run into a little-known piece of D.C. law: In the District, a driver can be arrested with as little as .01 blood-alcohol content.
As D.C. police officer Dennis Fair, who arrested Bolton on May 15, put it in an interview recently: "If you get behind the wheel of a car with any measurable amount of alcohol, you will be dealt with in D.C. We have zero tolerance. . . . Anything above .01, we can arrest."
Bolton fought the charges and got them dropped (prosecutors apparently have better things to do). Annoyance over, right? Oh hell no! Time for that bastion of abusive bureaucracy, the DMV, to get involved. Even though the charges were dropped and there was no conviction, the DC DMV "warned that it would suspend her driving privileges at the end of this month unless she went through an alcohol prevention program."
Corey Buffo, the DMV's general counsel, explained that the agency drops its procedures only after a case goes to trial and is dismissed on its merits. "Our burden of proof is lower" than the Superior Court's, he said. "Not enough evidence for them may be enough evidence for us." Yesterday, the DMV decided not to suspend her privileges and issued her a warning instead.
Does anyone else smell a violation of 'due process' rights, because I sure do. Suspending someone's driving privileges based on an arrest alone looks like it's ripe for a Constitutional challenge.
Lesson of the day: Don't drink in DC. At all. Ever.
From today's follow-up story, it looks like MADD, the DC Council member who sponsored the law in the first place, and various other interest groups are backpedalling on this piece-of-shit, nanny state law.
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.
D.C.'s zero-tolerance policy goes back about seven years. In 1998, at the same time Schwartz introduced an amendment to lower the blood alcohol limit for intoxication from .10 to .08 with much media attention, then-Council member Sandy Allen introduced a provision that lowered to .03 the level that a driver could be presumed impaired by alcohol. Both measures passed.
Gee, maybe people should be careful before passing stupid laws. Fuckers.
UPDATE: If you want to do something about it, then contacting the DC Council would be a good start.