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by ARLnow.com — December 15, 2014 at 11:00 am 1,060 0

Unveiling of a half cab-half police cruiserSoberRide, the local anti-drunk driving program that offers free cab rides during certain festive occasions, has launched for the entire holiday season.

The program started up Friday night and will run through New Year’s Day.

Every night through Jan. 1, between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m., those in the D.C. area who have been drinking and need a lift  home can call 1-800-200-TAXI for a free cab ride up to a $30 fare.

Arlington’s Red Top Cab is among the local D.C. area cab companies participating. Organizers say SoberRide saves lives.

“Last December, nearly 1,900 (1,877) Greater Washington residents did the right thing and availed themselves of this lifesaving service rather than possibly driving home impaired,” said Kurt Erickson, president of the nonprofit Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP), which runs SoberRide. “For SoberRide’s hours of operation during just last New Year’s Eve, such ridership (463) translated into the removal of a would-be drunk driver from our shared roadways every 62-seconds.”

WRAP and the Arlington County Police Department unveiled a half-cab, half-police cruiser (pictured) in 2012 to help promote the SoberRide program.

by ARLnow.com — December 1, 2014 at 11:00 am 8,832 0

Police car (file photo)(Updated at 1:00 p.m.) A woman was struck by a car on Little Falls Road Friday night, in an accident eerily similar to one that claimed the life of an Arlington mother earlier this year.

The incident happened at 11:22 p.m. on the 6000 block of Little Falls Road, just a block or two from where the Feb. 24 crash occurred. Police say a woman was loading her small children into an SUV on the eastbound side of the road when a vehicle traveling eastbound swerved across the bike lane and struck the parked SUV, pushing it onto the sidewalk.

The woman, a 31-year-old Vienna resident, suffered serious but non-life-threatening injuries, according to police. Her children, ages 6 months and 2 years old, were not injured.

The SUV was legally parked, noted police spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.

The striking vehicle came to rest in the eastbound lanes, after a 180 degree spin. The driver, identified as 54-year-old Arlington resident Susan Geigan, is currently free on bond after being charged with DUI, Malcolm said.

Geigan was not injured. Additional charges may be pending.

“It’s the holiday season and unfortunately we see more people taking the risk of getting behind the wheel while intoxicated,” said Malcolm.

The crash is improbably similar to the fatal accident on Feb. 24, which occurred just down the street. In that incident, a dump truck struck a woman on westbound Little Falls Road, across from Nottingham Elementary, as she was loading her young child into a minivan.

The victim later died. The driver of the dump truck was charged with a traffic infraction – alcohol was not a factor, police said. Another difference: there was no bike lane between traffic and parked cars on the stretch of Little Falls Road in front of the school.

Police are working with the county’s Dept. of Environmental Services on potential safety-enhancing changes to Little Falls Road, according to spokesman Lt. Kip Malcolm.

by ARLnow.com — November 21, 2014 at 5:55 pm 2,709 0

SoberMan, SoberWoman's other half, poses with an unidentified woman in Clarendon

A new superhero will be hitting the streets and bars of Clarendon Saturday night.

“SoberWoman” is described as the “witty better half” of SoberMan (left), the anti-DUI superhero who tried to save Clarendon bargoers from poor post-drinking decision making last December.

“SoberWoman will engage with patrons at Arlington area restaurants and quiz them on how they plan to get home after partying,” according to a press release. “She will award prizes to those who have made advanced plans to get home safely by not drinking and driving. SoberWoman will pose for pictures and encourage bar-goers to share photos and her mission via social media, using hashtag #SoberWoman.”

SoberWoman is planning on stopping by Whitlow’s on Wilson (2854 Wilson Blvd), Clarendon Grill (1101 N. Highland Street) and Spider Kelly’s (3181 Wilson Blvd) between 10:00 p.m. and midnight on Saturday. She will be joined by Arlington County Police Department Captain Kamran Afzal and Kurt Erickson, president of the Washington Regional Alcohol Program.

The arrival of SoberWoman should attract some attention. She will “arrive in a police motorcade and use a P.A. system to announce her mission at the corner of Wilson Blvd and N. Filmore St., adjacent to Whitlow’s,” according to the press release. “She will repeat her police ‘sirens and lights’ arrival at the following bars before engaging bar-goers inside”

Organizers say SoberWoman’s superpowers — namely, “continued vigilance and heightened awareness about drinking and driving” — are needed because drunk driving fatalities have been on the rise in Virginia over the last two years.

by ARLnow.com — September 18, 2014 at 4:30 pm 3,853 0

Arlington DUI checkpoint on St. Patrick's Day 2010 (via ABC7)The Arlington County Police Department is planning to conduct a sobriety checkpoint somewhere in the county Friday night.

The police department does not announce the location of DUI checkpoints in advance, but often targets arterial routes used by those coming from restaurants and bars.

“This enforcement effort is in support of [a] national crackdown program on drunk driving that focuses on combining high-visibility enforcement with heightened public awareness through advertising and publicity,” ACPD said in a press release.

“Officers will stop all vehicles passing through the checkpoint and ask to see the licenses of drivers,” the press release continued. “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.”

The Sheriff’s Office will also participate in the checkpoint.

by ARLnow.com — March 19, 2014 at 2:30 pm 12,023 0

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

by ARLnow.com — March 18, 2014 at 12:30 pm 1,584 0

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

by ARLnow.com — March 4, 2014 at 1:15 pm 8,936 0

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

by Katie Pyzyk — December 20, 2013 at 10:00 am 5,008 0

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.”

by Katie Pyzyk — November 26, 2013 at 12:00 pm 3,312 0

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.”

by Ethan Rothstein — September 25, 2013 at 4:30 pm 2,486 0

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…)

by ARLnow.com — September 20, 2013 at 10:00 am 4,817 0

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.

by ARLnow.com — June 19, 2013 at 2:30 pm 3,415 0

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.

(more…)

by ARLnow.com — March 11, 2013 at 3:40 pm 928 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.

by ARLnow.com — March 7, 2013 at 10:00 am 6,086 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.

by Katie Pyzyk — December 7, 2012 at 10:10 am 3,871 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.”

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