The Washington Post reports that the District's "zero tolerance" in issuing DUI's to drivers under the legal limit has been adjusted by order of the city council (it still has to be approved by the mayor). As mentioned earlier, one woman spent the night in jail after being pulled over at night for driving with her headlights off (she blames it on the valet) and, because she admitted to having one glass of wine, was charged with a DUI. Her BAL was 0.03, well below the 0.08 limit. Nevertheless, because of the said "zero tolerance," in the slammer she went. But after this story was publicized and calls flooded the city council, a law was passed 9-3 that will now presume drivers under 0.05 are not intoxicated and, as the Post's Eric Weiss explains, "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."
Mayor Anthony Williams expressed concerns that the law was "hastily written" and pointed out that last year six drunk-driving fatalities involved drivers who had less than 0.08 alcohol in their systems. Fair enough. If the mayor approves the legislation, it will last 90 days and the council can then further amend the law where needed.
In the meantime, DC residents can now safely have a glass of wine or a beer and know they won't be spending a night in jail if they get pulled over because of a broken tail signal.
Special props go to the sponsor of this legislation, lone Republican Carol Schwartz, and her cosponsor--our beloved former mayor Marion Barry.
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