Posted: 10/13/2005 7:08:55 AM EDT
Source: Washington Post (DC)
Address: 1150 15th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20071
Copyright: 2005 The Washington Post Company
Author: Brigid Schulte
Date: October 12, 2005
Single Glass of Wine Immerses D.C. Driver in Legal Battle
Debra Bolton had a glass of red wine with dinner. That's what she told
the police officer who pulled her over. That's what the Intoxilyzer 5000
breath test indicated -- .03, comfortably below the legal limit.
She had been pulled over in Georgetown about 12:30 a.m. for driving
without headlights. She apologized and explained that the parking
attendant must have turned off her vehicle's automatic-light feature.
Bolton thought she might get a ticket. Instead, she was handcuffed,
searched, arrested, put in a jail cell until 4:30 a.m. and charged with
driving under the influence of alcohol.
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
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."
Neither the police department nor the attorney general's office keeps
detailed records of how many people with low blood alcohol levels are
arrested. But last year, according to police records, 321 people were
arrested for driving under the influence with blood alcohol levels below
the legal limit of .08. In 2003, 409 people were arrested.
Although low blood alcohol arrests have been made in other states in
conjunction with dangerous driving, lawyers, prosecutors and advocates
of drunken driving prevention said they knew of no place besides the
District that had such a low threshold for routine DUI arrests. In
Maryland and Virginia, as in other states, drivers generally are
presumed not to be intoxicated if they test below .05. Nationwide, .08
is the legal limit -- meaning a driver is automatically presumed to be
Fair acknowledged that many people aren't aware of the District's
policy. "But it is our law," he said. "If you don't know about it, then
you're a victim of your own ignorance."
Bolton said she didn't know. But defense lawyers who practice in the
"Even one drink can get you in trouble in D.C.," said Thomas Key, a
lawyer who successfully defended a client who had a blood alcohol level
of .03. "They might not win a lot of these cases or prosecute them, but
they're still arresting people."
Not many people fight the charge, said Richard Lebowitz, another defense
lawyer, because the District offers a "diversion program" of counseling
for first-time offenders.
"If diversion is offered and accepted, there's a guarantee that the
charges will be dropped," Lebowitz said. "If you go to court and try to
prove your innocence, it's a coin-flip. So most people choose diversion."
Bolton didn't. She balked at the $400 fee and the 24 hours of class time
required to attend the "social drinker" program.
"I think it would have been fine if I'd done something wrong, but I
didn't," she said. "I had a glass of wine with dinner."
Instead, she hired a lawyer. In August, after Bolton made several
fruitless appearances in D.C. Superior Court, prosecutors dropped the
DUI charge. But then she had to battle the D.C. Department of Motor
Vehicles, which warned that it would suspend her driving privileges at
the end of this month unless she went through an alcohol prevention program.
As Bolton remembers it, it was early morning May 15 and she had barely
gone a few hundred yards before she was pulled over on K Street NW. The
officer, Fair, asked her whether she realized the headlights on her
Acura MDX sport-utility vehicle were off.
"Oh, man, am I going to get a ticket for this?" she remembers saying to
Then he asked her whether she'd had anything to drink.
"Not really," she said. And when he asked her again, more firmly, she
answered that she'd had a glass of wine with dinner at Cafe Milano.
He asked her to recite the alphabet. In his report, Fair wrote that he
had asked her to start at the letter D and stop at X. Bolton said she
thought he had asked her to stop at S and tossed off the alphabet
quickly and accurately to S.
As a result, Fair noted in his report that she had "jumbled" it.
Then he asked her to get out of the car.
Fair asked her to walk a straight line and then stand on one foot to the
count of 30. He looked into her eyes to check for jerkiness. Bolton,
dressed in black silk pants and a pink shirt, took off her pink high
heels to be more sure-footed. She said she thought she had aced the
tests. "All that yoga really paid off," she thought.
But in the police report, Fair wrote that she swayed as she walked and
lost her balance -- which Bolton disputes. He told her she was under arrest.
"Why?" Bolton remembers saying. "I passed all your little tests."
On his report, Fair wrote that Bolton failed 10 indicators of sobriety.
But James E. Klaunig, a toxicology expert at Indiana University's
medical school who for 12 years oversaw the state's drunken driving
testing, said that such a determination was scientifically improbable.
"There's no way possible she failed a test from impairment with a .03"
blood alcohol level, Klaunig said. "And reciting the alphabet is not an
acceptable way of measuring impairment, according to the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration."
Fair, who said he does not comment on individual arrests, noted in his
report that Bolton's attitude was "excited," "carefree" and "cocky."
"I was sort of laughing," Bolton said. "I look back and wonder, was I
cocky? Did I have an attitude? Well, yeah, because I was sober, so I
thought it was all so ridiculous."
Fair handcuffed her. Bolton said she was terrified. Until then, her only
brush with the law had been a ticket for speeding in a 15-mph zone in 2002.
At 1:08 a.m., at the 2nd Police District station, Fair asked Bolton to
blow into the Intoxilyzer 5000. It read .03.
"See?" she remembers saying.
He had her breathe into the machine one minute later. Again, .03.
But Fair told her D.C. law was on his side.
On the department's Web site, D.C. police explain it this way:
"Technically, according to the D.C. Code, the District of Columbia has a
zero tolerance for driving under the influence. If a person 21 years of
age or older has a blood alcohol concentration of .02 percent [to] .04
percent and extremely bad driving, this person can be placed under
arrest for Driving Under the Influence of an alcoholic beverage."
At low levels of alcohol, an arrest comes down to an officer's
discretion, said D.C. police Inspector Patrick Burke, former head of the
Fair, he said, has 15 years of experience and averages more than 100
drunken driving arrests a year and is well qualified to make the call.
In 1998, Fair arrested Marlene Cooke, wife of the late Washington
Redskins owner Jack Kent Cooke, for drunken driving after she piloted
her Land Rover through Dupont Circle without the headlights on. She
refused a breath test but was later convicted.
"I always say the safe bet, if you drive, is not to drink at all," Burke
said. "But even looking from a D.C. tourism standpoint, we'd be killing
ourselves if we were saying you can't go out and have a glass of wine
with dinner. That'd be ridiculous. So we tell people, you have to know
Bolton sat in a jail cell until 4:30 a.m. As she left, Fair told her he
had given her a warning, not a ticket, for driving without headlights.
She walked the few blocks to Wisconsin Avenue NW, caught a cab to her
car on K Street and drove across the bridge to Virginia. There, she
said, she pulled over and cried for 45 minutes.
Since what she refers to as her "unfortunate incarceration," Bolton has
spent hours in D.C. Superior Court and at the DMV and $2,000 so far
fighting the DUI charge. Her refusal to submit to the 12-week alcohol
counseling diversion program has sent her on a "surreal" odyssey.
Twice, after hours of waiting, prosecutors told her that they had lost
her file and that she would have to come back.
On Aug. 22, after four court appearances, prosecutors dropped the
charge. But she spent all of September battling the DMV to keep her
driving privileges from being suspended for three months.
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.
After so many months, Debra Bolton is just glad it's over. "It's
lunacy," she said. "I'm all for limits on drinking and driving. Whatever
the rules are, I will abide by them. I just didn't know these were the
These days, Bolton goes out to eat in Virginia. And she keeps a yellow
sticky note on her steering wheel to remind her to make sure her
headlights are on.
Source: Toronto Star (CN ON)
Address: One Yonge St., Toronto ON, M5E 1E6
Fax: (416) 869-4322
Copyright: 2005 The Toronto Star
Pubdate: October. 8, 2005
Just suck, then blow
Expect sales of Fisherman's Friend throat pastilles to skyrocket with
the latest news out of Germany. Ananova reports that a 24-year-old
driver was found to be over the legal drink-drive limit during a routine
control in Munich. He was taken to the police station where blood tests
found he had no alcohol in his system. The man was released after
officers found the strongest thing he had taken was a Fisherman's Friend.
A forensic doctor said the essential oils in the lozenge reacted in the
same way as alcohol on hand-held breathalyzers. In tests, researchers
found just three of the mentholated candies could cause a motorist to
test three times over the legal limit. How long till some tipsy
Torontonian tries out the Fisherman's Friend defence for blowing over 0.08?
Sucking a Fishermen's Friend could get you into trouble
Police in Germany are warning motorists that sucking a Fishermen's
Friend could get them into trouble.
It comes after a 24-year-old driver was found to be over the legal
drink-drive limit during a routine control in Munich.
He was taken to the police station where blood tests found he had no
alcohol in his system.
The man was released after officers found the strongest thing he had
taken was a Fisherman's Friend.
Forensic doctor Thomas Gilg said the essential oils contained in the
throat sweets reacted in the same way as alcohol on hand-held breathalysers.
He said in tests they found just three of the mentholated sweets could
cause a motorist to test three times over the legal limit.
Another offshoot of the government's desire to create more and more sources of revenue under the guise of "safety".
I'm a DUI Nazi, and I'd arrest somebody at a .03 IF they were driving dangerously...but this one crosses the common-sense threshhold. IF the story is accurate, that's a crappy arrest. I wonder if there's another side to it?
This wouldn't affect the station's breath tester. Anyone who thinks it would does not know what they're talking about.
Oh, and IBTDUILASC. (In Before The "DUI Laws Are Stupid" Crowd.
Crap, missed it by 3 minutes. I type too slow.
You have never forgotten to turn your lights on in a brightly lit area?
What does that have to do with the DUI for one glass of wine? How do you feel about someone getting a DUI for one glass of wine or a piece of candy?
Of course, by that time, you have been taken to the station in handcuffs, had your car towed, you are looking at impound fees, etc.
The law is the law.
If you don't like the law, or beleive its unConstitutional, work to change it.
Internet bitching does NOT rate.
Based strictly on the letter of the law, she was indeed driving under the influence. That's why there are separate charges for DUI and Prohibited BAC in many states.
If you have a hang over, you are under the influence.
If you drank so much beer you have to pee really bad, you are under the influence.
If you had just a single drink, and it makes you want to vomit, you are under the influence.
Should she have been cited? Probably not... but there was certainly PC for the stop, and attitude is everything.
I wouldn't be shocked if she pulled... "Hey, I'm an Attorney, I know the law!"
My paranoia for getting my own DUI arrest is multi-fold...
First, I will lose my job and career... DUI is an automatic disqualification for Commercial Driver's.
But what worries me more... when will the next set of gun laws come about? "Have you ever been convicted of DUI? [YES] [NO]
I've known people who drove better shitfaced drunk than others do stone-cold sober.
Now, I'm not advocating drinking and driving, but if you are not operating the vehicle in an unsafe manner, then the hell with it.
If you are weaving or doing other stuff that's dangerous, into the pokey with you. If you hurt someone, to the gas chamber with you.
It's that whole "responsibility" thing....
Oh, and of course the MAD maniacs are NEVER happy with the BAC level. It always goes down, and down, and down. No science, just emotions. Pretty soon you'll be baggable for DUI because you walked bast a brewery.
In my state DUII does not have anything to do with BAC, if your impaired, your arrested .00% or .30% dont matter. BAC on the breath test is evidence for or against you, but most importantly decides if your license is suspended immediately.
You want a giggly, stumbling 21yr old at .03% driving next to you on the freeway?
Of course if your .03% and don't show any signs of impairment, then i'll never even know you have been drinking. If I can't tell you have been drinking then I can't arrest you for DUII.
very easy to do.. Got pulled over for the same thing in Boulder about 10 years ago.. well lit area, it was light out when i got there, didnt notice until I got to the end of the road and there was no more street lights.
1) You have to be aware of the situation first.
2) There are people here who are working to change various laws in several areas. Part of that is educating educate people.
Since this is what you do, without working to change laws, then you are saying that your bitching does NOT rate.
It's the whole "nanny state" at work. Personal responsibilty? Only applies to gun owners
Bingo. Makes perfect sense.
Child seat laws.
ALL of them are simply EXCUSES to WRITE TICKETS or demand more $$ for the po-po. If you think they care about your safety, you're delusional. They only care about your WALLET.
If they are at .03 then the reason for the giggly stumbling is probably the "21 year old" part.
Check that last sentence. I think you left out a word.
I had to get gas one time and when I pulled into this gas staion in the middle of the night, I was blind, the damn light s were insanly bright, my cars headlights didnt do a thing, I couldnt see the beam.
When I pulled out I was pulled over not 100ft from the station. Cop told me that I was driving with my lights on. I disputed what he said until I held my hand over my dash lights and saw that my lights were off.
Fucking station lights were so bright I couldnt see my own lights. My fault for driving without lights? HELL NO, why do you need lights in a building that are as bright as the sun?
Not unless you failed the field sobriety tests as well. And I have never, ever, arrested someone after they failed the SFST's and the PBT and had them come in below .08. Ever. For those who came in above .08, well, they shouldn't have been driving.
Number of innocents handcuffed and car towed = 0.
Lots of drunk drivers taken off the road =
You think you are educating people here?
Talk about delusions of grandeur.
What are you talking about?
Any laws I don't like, or believe are unConstitutional, I AM working to change.
Opps, thanks. edited.
Good for you. But that apparently doesn't apply everywhere.
If that's the case, they are doing a sucky job, cuz I've never been ticketed for any of those.
Numerous times cops have let me off with a warning for speeding, or no seat belt.
It's been known that MADD want's anything over .00 to be a DUI for years now.
They are just the old prohibitionists coming back. As soon as the .00 is accomplished, they will start outlawing designated drivers by saying intoxicated passengers are too distracting to sober drivers.
All you whiners fail to understand the MOST basic principle of gov't -
To the degree society refuses to use common sense, self-discipline, and self-control, gov't MUSt step in, for civilization to continue.
If no one got drunk publicly, public drunkenness laws would NOT exist.
If people didn't drink and kill others with their car, DUI laws would not exist.
These laws you don't like? They exist BECAUSE of peoples lack of self-control.
Look in the mirror. Do YOU lack self control?
If you don't think you are guilty of anything significant and you are kinda mentally slapping yourself in the forehead because you realize you forgot something minor, it might. I try to make it a point to respond to officers with a smile, anyway, even if I think they are assholes for pulling me over. No point in pissing off the JBTs any more than they already are.
Still the champion for the drug policy reform, eh, Cliff?
In CA, you're presumed DUI if your BAC is .08% or higher. It's set at .04% if you're a commercial driver, and at .01% if you're under 21.
The presumption is you're impaired, and can't operate the your vehicle as you should be able to. It's a legal convention.
You can be impaired while driving for other reasons, and that's against the law too. Look at the new "cell phone" laws.
Best bumper sticker ever:
CAUTION! I drive like you do!
PLEASE tell me you don't have a problem with DUI laws.
Tell me you're not serious here.
Exactly. And should even LEO's themselves be questioning why a lot them get no respect? Maybe it's due to actions like that, arresting someone for a .01? What a crock of shit.
No, you are wrong here. There are folks behind these laws that have a very sincere care for the safety of the general public. An example I just heard on the radio recently was a father who's son was killed in a white water kayak accident. He's brought a new helmet to market to protect others...
Legislators generally don't care one way or another unless they were directly affected by something, and that caused them to run for office.
Where the revenue argument comes into play is the selective enforcement, or better yet "Blitz's" that occur around the country.
A good measure is how the cop on the street deals with you.
Does he give you a lecture or a ticket for a seatbelt violation? There's your answer...
I don't. Never had a DUI or anything close to it. At the same time I think it is pretty stupid to bust other people for a single glass of wine. You know, it is an unreasonable prosecution that serves no good purpose, and it wastes my tax dollars.
I'd bet Teddy Kennedy is still off-gassing higher than .03
I have absolutely no problems with enforcement of DUI laws and even the somewhat arbitrary BAC numbers they contain, but .03 is just stupid.
DUII laws are like any other, they need to be balanced and fair or they will be ignored by the majority.
Personal rant - I have seen more death, sorrow and families destroyed by intoxicated drivers than anything else in the last 15 years. One criminal kills another in a driveby, who cares? Family joe smeared by a intoxicated driver in a 3 ton sledge hammer, tragedy all around.
In before all the DWI apologists.
Something does not pass the smell test.
She claims one glass of wine with dinner. Call it 9 pm.
at 12:30 am she gets stopped, SFST's show enough clues to get her tested.
At a little after 1am she blows a .03.
Just how big was this glass of wine? One NORMAL glass of wine would not even be detectable after 4 hours.
As for the Minimal BAC, MADD, etc, get over it. The numbers are just evidence of a crime, they don't convict you. I can quite easily get convictions on the SFST's alone. Point of fact, that's the way it USED to be. Look to the lawyers, not MADD. DWI's are BIG money makers for lawyers. Some do nothing BUT DWI cases.
BTW: I've gained convictions on an .03 before.
Dude, you need to seriously lay off the bottle because if you're advocating arresting someone for a .01, then you seriously have no clue as to what the real reason for a law like that exsist. It's to generate revenue for both government and lawyers, not to make the streets safer.
Wow, great job officer. Seemed like the officer wanted to see this go down bad. Way to accurately depict what happened.
You know, some of these sobriety tests seem pretty retarded to me. I'm perfectly sober right now, and my eyes are jerky if I try and follow my finger around.
Same for all the foot in the air, head back, touch your nose etc. How many of you can do it perfectly, without even flinching. It's unnatural to walk heel touching the toe.
They should make these tests involve something with hand eye coordination and/or reaction time.
I feel perfectly fine driving after I've had only one drink. If I have two or more, I don't get behind the wheel. I have a fine job that I don't care to risk.
I couldn't agree more. If you want to piss off an patrolman (or woman) just let em' know how 'ridiculous' you think their job is. She was begging for this from the word go. Attitude is everything.
Prime example of why I skip going out with friends, and just end up walking down to the neighborhood bar..
I am sure that there are areas that they would try to arrest you for walking home intoxicated, but luckilly the local Police are cool enough not to worry about a few people
SO on that note..
You miss the OTHER fundamental principal of law - often called the "rule of law" or "equal protection."
The law CANNOT be tailored to fit every situation that might possible exist under the sun.
Law is intended to have a UNIFORM standard - the SAME standard applying to ALL people. If you want to see a totalitarian society, just keep going with your thinking.
Again, I support each state crafting DUI laws in ANY fashion they see fit. Even ONE glass of wine.
At that point, I have three choices:
1. Live with it.
2. Work to change it.
3. Move to a state that has laws the way I like them.
PROMINENTLY MISSING from those choices is "intentionally break the law cuz I don't like it."
"Internet bitching" is also excluded.
So the bust was really for "attitude" then? Or are you saying that cops are entitled to bust anyone who isn't kissing their ass?
I would say that the woman was in a good mood and didn't think she was in any serious trouble. I generally react to cops with some sort of smile if I don't think I am in any serious trouble. I may even tell a joke or two.
Please google "nystagmus" and learn more about what you think you're talking about.
I know people who giggle when nervous. We going to throw THEM into prison, now?
I want to know ONE thing: WAS SHE DRIVING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER. Nothing else matters.
Same goes for driving without lights in a brightly-lit area.
but you can smoke all the pot you want right?
it makes your reflexes better.
Yeah, and all such standards should be "reasonable". Look the word up in case you are unclear about it.
Yeah, we know. You have a problem in that "reasonable" department.
Did someone besides you say that anyone should break the DUI law just because they don't like it? Were you confused about this article? Did you think this woman broke the law just because she didn't like it?
Dude, you foam at the mouth far too often.
That leaves us with a fourth option for you. Since all you are doing is internet bitching, then you could shut up.
I'll remember you said this next time the .gov calls for a gun ban because some whackjob shot someone.
Cops have OFTEN stopped me and NOT given me a ticket.
I guess they saw I admitted my fault, respected the statory law, and intended to do better. (Perosnally, I think they like my CCW, whcih I hand them with my DL)
On the other hand, had I acted like an ass, they prolly woulda lit me up. Mostly cuz they woulda figgered I disrespected the intent of the law, adn would prolly violate it again. Soon.
Dude, you're a ranting loon.
FIRST you whine about cops being over zealous in enforcing unreasonable laws.
THEN you whine about cops exercising discretion in NOT ticketing people who appear to want to drive safer, but just were in their hurry to work.
Suggests to me you are not following any logic, just agenda.
I'm dead serious. Either you are driving dangerously (and I could care less if it's because you slugged a 12-pack or because you're reaching back to stroke your crying baby), or you're NOT.
Everything else is an excuse to RAISE MONEY.