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Drew Elementary Principal Resigns After DUI Arrest

by ARLnow.com | March 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm | 12,023 views | No Comments

Former Drew Elementary principal Jacqueline Smith (photo via APS)Drew Model Elementary School principal Jacqueline Smith resigned earlier this month, just days after being arrested for driving under the influence.

Smith, a 53-year-old Arlington resident, was arrested on the 1100 block of S. Rolfe Street, in the Arlington View neighborhood, around 3:30 a.m. on Friday, March 7. Smith was observed by an officer stopping at a green light, weaving in and out of lanes and almost striking a parked car, according to Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The officer pulled Smith over and she subsequently failed a field sobriety test, Sternbeck said. Smith was arrested and taken to the Arlington County Detention Center. Four days after the arrest, Drew Elementary parents were notified that Smith was “retiring.”

“We wanted to let you know that Jackie Smith, Principal of Drew, has informed us that she plans to retire from her position with the Arlington Public Schools for personal reasons,” wrote Arlington Public Schools superintendent Patrick Murphy. “She will be on leave the remainder of this week, and will retire effective March 17. We wish her the best in the future.”

“I have been grateful for my 21 years in Arlington as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal,” Smith said in the letter. “The support I have received through the years from Dr. Murphy, APS administrators, the School Board, and the many dedicated teachers and educational leaders throughout the county has been greatly appreciated. I want to express my best wishes to the Drew Model School staff, students, and community, and I hope for their continued success as they work to provide excellent learning opportunities for our children.”

Asked by ARLnow.com if Smith had been fired, APS spokeswoman Linda Erdos said “that statement is not accurate.” Theresa Bratt, who retired from APS last year, is now serving as interim principal at the school.

Smith’s next court appearance is scheduled for May 19. Court documents indicate that, if convicted, this would be her first DUI.

Photo via APS

For Sale: Model of ACPD Car-Cab

by ARLnow.com | March 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm | 1,584 views | No Comments

Arlington’s half police car-half taxi cab has been made into a scale model.

The vehicle, which is used to help discourage drunk driving, is a Ford Crown Victoria painted as both a police cruiser and a taxi, with the slogan “Choose Your Ride.” A company called Ixo Models is now manufacturing a 1/43 scale model version.

The model is available for sale for $37.95.

Hat tip to John Antonelli

Police to Conduct DUI Checkpoint Friday

by ARLnow.com | March 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm | 8,936 views | No Comments

dui-checkpoint-abc7Arlington cops will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint Friday night.

The Arlington County Police Department and the Arlington Sheriff’s Office will jointly conduct the DUI checkpoint at an as-yet undisclosed location in the county. It’s part of the national “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving crackdown.

“Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers,” ACPD said in a press release. “Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.”

The maximum penalty in Virginia for a first DUI conviction is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.

File photo via WJLA

‘Soberman’ Tries to Save Clarendon Bar-Goers from DUI

by Katie Pyzyk | December 20, 2013 at 10:00 am | 5,008 views | No Comments

It started on Thursday night with numerous police vehicles zooming into Clarendon with sirens blaring. Drivers pulled over and pedestrians stopped in their tracks. Suddenly, revelers were met with a most unusual sight — a superhero in a cape and leotard emerging from the Chooser Cruiser. Arlington, meet Soberman.

While his getup produced many laughs, Soberman’s message was serious: don’t drink and drive. Speaking through a police car loudspeaker, Soberman told everyone to have fun and enjoy their adult beverages, but to make a smart choice when trying to get home by using a designated driver, taxi, public transportation or by walking.

Soberman’s appearance was coordinated by the Arlington County Police Department and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP). Attendees were reminded of WRAP’s free holiday taxi service through SoberRide, which runs through New Year’s Day.

WRAP President Kurt Erickson said this is a bit of a different tactic for getting people not to drink and drive. The idea is all about engaging people in a fun way to get Soberman’s message to sink in.

“The message for the rest of the year is that police have stepped up to apprehend drunk drivers. But this message is not about that. This message is hey, celebrate responsibly,” said Erickson. “It’s extremely well received. It’s just a little bit of a different message.”

Soberman repeatedly said that people should enjoy the holiday cheer and they don’t necessarily need to stop drinking, they just should be responsible after drinking. He said his mission is “not to be a buzz kill, only to make sure the buzz doesn’t hit the road.”

Drinkers and non-drinkers alike gathered around Soberman to chat with him and to pose for photos. Passengers leaned out of passing cars to snap pictures and people who spotted the commotion came out of buildings to get a better glimpse. Soberman yelled across Wilson Blvd to a number of drinkers who had just stepped out of bars and began cheering. He waved them over to his spot in front of Whitlow’s.

“Partiers of Clarendon, come over here! Soberman wants to talk to you about how you’re getting home!” he said. “You can win prizes!”

The anti-drunk driving superhero approached one man emerging from a bar and said, “Hello, Arlington partier. I am Soberman.” The bar patron promptly replied, “I am Drunkman.” Soberman congratulated the man for having fun and asked the all-important question,”Drunkman, how are you getting home tonight?”

Like all those who were able to prove they had a safe and sober ride home, the man received a Starbucks gift card from Soberman for making a wise choice. The man flashed a Metro card and said he had no intention of getting behind the wheel.

Soberman especially encouraged folks in Clarendon to use social media to spread the word about staying sober while driving. Those who took the message to Twitter have a chance to win a John Wall or Alex Ovechkin bobblehead.

Part of the campaign is to get drinkers to plan ahead instead of trying to come up with a way to get home once they are already impaired.

“People just need to plan ahead, but they often don’t,” Erickson said. “Leaving the bar is not the time to make an exit strategy. If you’re able to plan an evening out, you should be able to plan a safe way home.”

Soberman first appeared at the end of August but has been particularly active during the holiday season.

“My mission is to prevent drunk driving before it starts,” said Soberman. “Any way you get home safe after having adult beverages — by designated driver or bus or Metro or cab — is the safe and sober choice.”

Police Respond to Multiple Hit and Run Incidents

by Katie Pyzyk | November 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm | 3,312 views | No Comments

Police car lightsPolice had a particularly busy afternoon on Sunday (November 24) due to a number of hit and run DUI incidents.

The Arlington County Police Department responded to 14 DUI incidents this weekend. On Sunday afternoon alone, there were four DUI hit and run cases. Police say that number is more typical of a Friday or Saturday night, not a Sunday afternoon.

“This is not a typical shift, with four similar DUI hit and runs. We were able to locate the individuals and apprehend them a short time after the incidents,” said ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. “This is unusual for a Sunday afternoon.”

One of the incidents involved police receiving calls about a car on I-66 westbound with what appeared to be one missing tire. Officers checking out the reports saw the driver of the vehicle hit another vehicle and attempt to leave the scene. She then reportedly hit the concrete barrier, which stopped her car near Glebe Road.

Officers had to remove the woman from her vehicle because they said she was unable to stand or hold up her own head. She was taken to the hospital as a precaution but did not have any serious injuries. Blood drawn at the hospital showed the woman had a blood alcohol level of .36. She was arrested for DUI and hit and run.

All of the drivers in the other three hit and run incidents were also tracked down and arrested for DUI and hit and run, among other offenses.

ACPD cautions drivers that DUI incidents tend to increase during holiday weeks. The department will have addition patrols out this week checking for drunk drivers in light of the Thanksgiving holiday.

“If you’re driving, please don’t drink,” Sternbeck said. “If you do drink alcohol, please use a sober designated driver and wear your seatbelt.”

Crime Report: Drunk Man Crashes Car Into Fire Station

by Ethan Rothstein | September 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm | 2,486 views | No Comments

A Falls Church man crashed his car into Arlington’s Fire Station No. 9 earlier this week.

Yancy Carrera, 33, drove into the corner of the fire house at 4:05 a.m. Sunday morning, according to police. He was arrested charged with DUI and felony destruction of property.

A fire department official said no one was injured in the crash, which caused only cosmetic damage to the building. So far, there is no estimate on the cost of the repairs.

From this week’s Arlington County crime report:

FELONY DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY, 09/22/13, 1900 block of S. Walter Reed Drive.  At 4:05 am, an intoxicated subject drove his vehicle into the corner of Fire Station #9. Yancy Carrera, 35, of Falls Church, VA, was arrested and charged with DUI and felony destruction of property. He was held with no bond.

The rest of the crime report, after the jump. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty.

(more…)

ACPD to Conduct DUI Checkpoint Tonight

by ARLnow.com | September 20, 2013 at 10:00 am | 4,817 views | No Comments

The Arlington County Police Department will conduct a DUI checkpoint tonight (Friday).

The department does not reveal the location of the checkpoint in advance. From an ACPD press release:

On Friday, September 20, 2013, the Arlington County Police Department will conduct a sobriety checkpoint with assistance from the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office. This enforcement effort, called “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” is in support of U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) National crackdown program on drunk driving that focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.

Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers. Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.

The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.

NOVA Legal Beat: Refuse the Breathalyzer?

by ARLnow.com | June 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm | 3,415 views | No Comments

NOVA Legal Beat logo

Editor’s Note: This new sponsored Q&A column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC.

Q. One of my buddies was recently pulled over after having a few too many drinks — he lives 5 blocks from the bar and just made a bad call getting behind the wheel. He knew he was going to be over the limit — is it ever better to refuse a breathalyzer test than to take one when you know it will probably show you’re drunk?

A. Refusing a breathalyzer test may seem like a good idea if you’re facing the prospects of a breath test confirming what you already know — that you’re legally drunk and were driving. However, refusing a breathalyzer test is unlawful in Virginia and can have negative and severe implications. Additionally, most of the time there is already enough evidence to convict you of driving under the influence, so it won’t save you from being charged and convicted.

The penalty for refusal varies depending on your past record as it relates to DUIs. For a first offense, refusal is merely a civil offense but carries an immediate license suspension and up to a one-year license suspension from the court in addition to any penalties triggered by the DUI.

In addition to the suspensions, if you have a prior DUI conviction or refusal in the last 10 years then it turns into a Class 2 misdemeanor (punishable by up to six months in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000). If you have two or more such convictions in the last 10 years then refusal is a Class 1 misdemeanor (punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine up to $2,500). Those are pretty severe consequences for one decision, particularly in light of the fact that these penalties are on top of any you may receive for the DUI.

It is worth remembering that there isn’t a requirement that your blood alcohol content (BAC) be a certain level in order to be convicted of a DUI in Virginia. It is illegal to drive while showing any influence of alcohol or drugs that impairs your ability to drive. Evidence of your driving behavior, demeanor, field sobriety tests, and any odors of alcohol will become the basis of determining whether you are under the influence.

Additionally, the penalty you receive can be more severe in cases where there is a refusal and a conviction for driving under the influence. While you may be able to avoid the mandatory sentences that relate to higher BAC levels by refusing the test, you would simply be trading one set of penalties for another if you get convicted.

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Numerous Alcohol-Related Arrests on Saturday

by ARLnow.com | March 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm | 928 views | 42 Comments

Police car (file photo)Thanks in part to pre-St. Patrick’s Day revelry, Arlington County Police had their hands full with alcohol-related offenses on Saturday.

The day’s festivities included the Four Courts Four Miler race in Courthouse Saturday morning and the Shamrock Crawl bar crawl in Clarendon that afternoon and evening.

There were a total of 6 arrests for Drunk in Public on Saturday, including 5 incidents in the Clarendon area, according to ACPD spokesman Dustin Sternbeck. There were also 7 arrests for Driving Under the Influence on Saturday, he said. By contrast, a planned DUI checkpoint on Friday yielded no DUI arrests, according to Sternbeck.

There were also two significant fights reported on Saturday.

One incident happened just past 9:00 p.m., near the intersection of Wilson Blvd and N. Garfield Street in Clarendon. The incident started, police say, when the victim accidentally spilled a beer on a woman in a restaurant. An altercation ensued and staff at the restaurant had to separate the parties. At that point, altercation spilled outside the restaurant.

During the fight, police say, the victim’s head struck either a low wall or a curb, producing a significant head wound. The victim was found conscious but bleeding heavily, and was transported to George Washington University Hospital. Two Alexandria men were subsequently arrested and charged with Malicious Wounding by Mob.

From the ACPD daily crime report:

MALICIOUS WOUNDING BY MOB, 03/09/13, 1400 block of N. Garfield Street. At 9:05 pm on March 9, an altercation inside a restaurant bar, continued into the street. A victim sustained a significant laceration to his forehead and was transported to GW hospital. DC Danh, 28, of Alexandria, VA and Donny Danh, 27, of Alexandria, VA, were arrested and charged with malicious wounding by mob. They were held without bond.

Early Saturday morning, in another alcohol-related incident, two people were arrested for assaulting a cab driver and an apartment concierge.

MALICIOUS WOUNDING, 03/09/13, 900 block of N. Randolph Street. At 4:13 am on March 9, two subjects exited a cab without paying and once confronted by the driver, physically assaulted him by punching and kicking him repeatedly. A residence concierge witnessed the attack and attempted to aid the victim, but was punched as well. Ramnik Aulakh, 30, of Arlington, VA, and Elizabeth Arias, 29, of Bowie, MD, were arrested and charged with malicious wounding, defrauding a taxi and drunk in public. They were held without bond.

ACPD to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoint on Friday

by ARLnow.com | March 7, 2013 at 10:00 am | 6,086 views | 69 Comments

Arlington DUI checkpoint on St. Patrick's Day 2010 (via ABC7)The Arlington County Police Department and Sheriff’s Office will conduct a sobriety checkpoint tomorrow (Friday) night.

The checkpoint is part of ACPD’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” effort, which is funded through federal grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The effort “focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity.”

The checkpoint’s location is not announced in advance. According to an ACPD press release:

Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers.  Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication.

The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.

Man on Long Road to Recovery after Being Struck in Clarendon

by Katie Pyzyk | December 7, 2012 at 10:10 am | 3,534 views | 52 Comments

The man who was hit by a car while walking in Clarendon two months ago is making progress in his recovery, but there’s a long road ahead.

Just yesterday (Thursday), 27-year-old Michael Sizemore underwent another surgery to re-attach the section of skull that was removed to alleviate pressure on his brain. The accident had left him with a variety of serious injuries including a fractured skull, two broken legs and multiple lacerations. After being struck, Sizemore was in a drug-induced coma for days to give his brain time to heal. Sizemore’s father, Mark Sizemore, says yesterday’s surgery appears to have been successful.

“The injury to his brain was right above his left ear where the skull fracture occurred, and that’s your speech center,” Mark said. “The majority of the injury has affected him of course cognitively, and in his speech center. He is recovering his cognition and his speech is getting better every day.”

Doctors predict it will take about a year for Michael to rehabilitate his speech and his ability to walk. Mark said it seems as though his son understands what happened to him, but his focus is simply on getting back to living his life.

“Michael just wants to get back to living, is what he tells me. He’s not so much focused on what happened. I think that will come later,” Mark said.

Once he fully recovers, Michael is determined to return to his job as a lobbyist at the Virginia Association of Community Services Boards, which advocates for organizations that help people with developmental delays, substance abuse problems and mental health issues.

“He tells me that almost every single day. That’s what we’re trying to work towards with his rehab,” Mark said. “I think he’ll do it. I think he’ll rehab to the point where he can get back to that job. That’s what drives him.”

Mark says his son and the rest of the family don’t harbor anger toward Tyler Bruce Wills, the man accused of striking Michael. They believe that justice will be served in due time.

“He realizes it’s really a random event that happened to him,” Mark said. “Michael is not looking for revenge against this person, he’s looking for justice to take care of that.”

Meantime, Wills remains in jail on charges of DUI and DUI Maiming. Wills waived his right to a preliminary hearing, which was scheduled for last week, and awaits trial. Police say due to results from the alcohol test and multiple witness accounts, the evidence against Wills is quite strong.

As for Mark, he credits the doctors at George Washington University Hospital with saving his son. That’s where Michael was taken immediately after the accident, and where he had his surgery yesterday. Mark said the situation could have turned out far differently had the hospital and its head trauma experts not been nearby.

“Thank God it was there, because they saved his life,” Mark said. “If my son had not been close to that place, he would not have lived. It was a miracle.”

UPDATED: Police Investigate Critical Pedestrian Accident in Clarendon

by ARLnow.com | September 29, 2012 at 2:30 am | 26,262 views | 207 Comments

(Updated at 11:35 a.m.) Arlington County Police are investigating a serious pedestrian accident on a busy street in the center of Clarendon.

An adult male was struck by a Honda Civic coupe heading eastbound on Clarendon Blvd, near the intersection with N. Highland Street, around 12:30 a.m., according to initial reports. The man suffered life-threatening injuries and was transported via ambulance to George Washington University Hospital.

Police shut down Clarendon Blvd from Washington Blvd to N. Garfield Street while detectives investigated the accident. Crowds of Clarendon bar-goers peered from behind yellow police tape at the bloody evidence marked at the scene, including the victim’s shoes, pants and shirt.

The driver of the Honda, identified by police as 22-year-old Tyler Bruce Wills of Bowie, Md., was arrested on scene and charged with DUI and DUI Maiming. He’s currently being held without bond. Charges against Wills may change depending on the status of the victim, said Arlington County Police spokesman Dustin Sternbeck.

The victim, a 27-year-old man from Collinsville, Va., has been undergoing surgeries and remains in critical condition, according to Sternbeck. The victim suffered a fractured skull, two broken legs, a broken arm, numerous lacerations to his body, and a big laceration to his face. A friend was with the victim at the time of the accident and was able to notify his family, Sternbeck said.

Unconfirmed witness accounts suggested the victim was crossing just outside the crosswalk and was struck by the car, which was traveling through the intersection at what was described as a relatively high rate of speed. The victim flew through the air and came to rest, motionless, on the pavement, a witness said.

As of 2:15 a.m., a police accident reconstruction team was taking photos and using measurement devices to piece together a more definitive account of how the accident happened.

ACPD to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoint on Friday

by ARLnow.com | September 20, 2012 at 3:25 pm | 10,017 views | 78 Comments

Arlington County Police will be conducting  a sobriety checkpoint on Friday, Sept. 21 as part of the nationwide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” drunk driving enforcement effort.

Together with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office, ACPD officers will set up a checkpoint at an undisclosed location Friday night.

“Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers,” the police department said in a press release. “Any driver suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol will be directed to a safe area off the roadway for further observation and possible testing for intoxication. The maximum penalty in Virginia for the first conviction for driving under the influence is 12 months in jail, a $2,500 fine and a 12-month suspension of driving privileges.”

Fairfax Man Convicted in Ballston Hit and Run Case

by ARLnow.com | July 27, 2012 at 4:45 pm | 5,517 views | 73 Comments

A Fairfax County man has been convicted and sentenced to more than four years in prison for a hit and run pedestrian accident that left a young woman seriously injured.

John Reynolds was 24 at the time of his arrest in March 2011. He was accused of hitting a 22-year-old woman with his car while driving drunk on Fairfax Drive, near the Ballston Metro station, on December 30, 2010. Reynolds sped away from the scene of the near-fatal accident, but detectives were able to use debris from his car to track him down and arrest him.

Reynolds — who studied psychology and criminal justice at Old Dominion University — was charged with hit and run and DUI maiming. Following a three-day trial that started on Monday, an Arlington County jury found Reynolds guilty on both charges yesterday (Thursday) afternoon. Today the jury sentenced Reynolds to 4 years and 3 months in prison, plus a $2,500 fine.

Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jay Burkholder, who prosecuted the case with fellow Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Jennifer Clarke, said Reynolds’ “level of intoxication” played a role in the jury’s decision-making. Reynolds did not testify at the sentencing hearing, Burkholder said.

The victim of the accident suffered what Burkholder described as “very serious” injuries to her hip and legs. She also suffered nerve damage.

“Due to some fantastic doctors at Inova Fairfax Hospital she survived and is walking today,” Burkholder said. “She is doing much better, but will always face some physical challenges from this crime.”

Reynolds is being held at the Arlington County jail pending a formal sentencing hearing in September, when a judge will have the option of suspending part of his sentence.

Morning Notes

by ARLnow.com | July 26, 2012 at 8:48 am | 2,015 views | 42 Comments

Meriweather Pleads to DWI Charge — Washington Redskins strong safety Brandon Meriweather has pleaded no contest to the charge of driving while intoxicated in Arlington. As part of the plea, Meriweather was assessed a fine, a driver’s license suspension, and a 180 day jail sentence — though the jail time was suspended. ARLnow.com was the first to report in April that Meriweather had been arrested for DWI following a traffic stop on I-66 in Arlington. [Washington Post]

Heat Advisory Issued — A heat advisory will be in effect from noon to 8:00 tonight. Heat index values are expected to reach around 105 degrees, which brings the risk of dehydration and heat-related illnesses. [Weather Channel]

District 45 Special Election Scheduled — The special election to replace Del. David Englin, who resigned in June, will be held on Tuesday, Sept. 4. Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell announced the special election date yesterday. [Virginia.gov]

Green Pig Bistro Reviewed — Washingtonian Magazine reviews Clarendon’s Green Pig Bistro (1025 N. Fillmore Street) and dubs it a “hipster farmhouse.” In addition to the food, the restaurant’s staff also receives attention in the article: “That dude with the mohawk and baroque tattoos? That’s the sous chef.” [Washingtonian]

Flickr pool photo by Wolfkann

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