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Arlington Police Plan DUI Checkpoint, Patrols This Weekend

by ARLnow.com December 7, 2010 at 8:25 am 5,413 74 Comments

On Saturday, Arlington police will send the message that “buzzed driving is drunk driving.”

Together with the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia State Police, Arlington Police will set up a DUI checkpoint at an undisclosed location in the county. All cars passing through the checkpoint will be stopped, and drivers suspected of operating a vehicle while intoxicated will be asked to pull to the side to perform further sobriety testing.

In addition to the checkpoint, police say they will be adding extra DUI saturation patrols for the remainder of the holiday season.

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

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    Any guesses where it will be? Surely not South Arlington, right? That would be racist™.

  • Courthouse Res

    Why would it be in South Arlington anyway? It will most likely be in the B-R corridor as that’s where most of the bars are located. So easy to pop people coming out of one of the many bars in Clarendon.

  • JamesE

    Be on the lookout for intoxicated Alexandria police.

  • TGEoA

    If you get stopped, REFUSE to do the field tests. Tell them you have a leg injury and you aren’t going to play their games.

    If you submit to a breathalyzer and fail, they will haul you in to do another test at the station or hospital. REFUSE that test. That is the test that counts. Any good lawyer will get your field test tossed.

    Refuse to play the po-po’s games.

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      Somehow I don’t think that would work…

      Plus, they’ll likely draw blood at the hospital. I think refusal of that = automatic license suspension.

      • TGEoA

        True, but a license suspension is better than a DUI.

      • A

        Exactly. You might somehow avoid a DUI conviction, although the chance is small if the cops can testify that you had alcohol on your breath and appeared drunk, but convicted or not if you refuse the test you will lose your license for six months minimum.

    • mehoo

      Or just don’t drive drunk and endanger lives, huh?

      • +1

      • SoArlRes


      • Darwin


        • mehoo

          Dammit! Now I have to start over.

        • Smartman


          • mehoo


      • Arlingtonian

        +6987 A girl I knew died in an accident with a “buzzed” driver. Zero tolerance.

        • Skeptical


          Ireland pulls your license for the first drunk driving offense, last I checked. We’re talking IRELAND.

          Well heeled people, especially lawyers, get off with a wrist slap around here.

          How hard is it to stay sober when you are out and/or do your drinking at home?

  • DudeGuy

    Or you just take a cab home or walk… or metro or sleep at a friends house or dont drink or go to IHOP until 5am… or pass out on the benches outside the Arlington Library.

    • Arlingtonian

      The IHOP option is my favorite 🙂

    • ArlFireman

      Please don’t pass out on benches, that’s when they call US. Find a dark alley or a loading dock

  • Darwin

    Thanks for the heads up! I’ll wait until the weekend after next to do all my drunk driving!

    • Politically Incorrect

      That or make sure your Desingated Decoy leaves the parking lot first and swerves all over the place.

  • VASQ

    The last DUI checkpoint they did earlier this year was on Fairfax Drive in Virginia Square, right by the FDIC. It seemed to be targeted at the crowd that leaves Clarendon and then drives down Fairfax Dr. to get to I-66.

    • PurpleFlipFlops

      Or the crowd that drives from Clarendon to VA Square. Its a cold, dreary walk in the winter. Even C2H6O doesn’t help that much on those cold January nights drinking.

  • rft

    Doesn’t pre-announcing that there will be a checkpoint kind of defeat whole purpose?

    • Arlington, Northside

      They do not give away the location. By making the announcement they are hoping folks will think before they drink this weekend.

    • el fat kid

      Kind of, tho i think the purpose is to limit the number of drunk drivers and the publicity/threat of checkpoints theoretically dissuades more drivers from driving home drunk than they could possibly arrest. they’re probably correct.

      Also, a side note in response to TGEoA’s comment on refusal – refusing the breathlyzer rarely, if ever works. Unless you’re a DWI/DUI attorney or willing to drop $20,000 on defense, don’t refuse. If you can prove that there was no cause for the search or administering the breathlyzer, you can avoid the automatic 1 year suspension, but that’s nearly impossible to do in general and completely impossible at a checkpoint. Personally, i believe public checkpoints constitute an illegal search w/o cause but the courts don’t seem to agree w/ that.

      • Arlington, Northside

        Courts have said that driving is a privilege, not a Right, as such the DUI checkpoints have passed muster with courts throughout the land. Now if they had had checkpoints to get you walking down the street for public intoxication, then the courts and I would agree with you.

        • rft

          what is this privilege nonsense? I don’t even see the word privilege in Michigan State Police v. Sitz.

          The Court found that burden on the driver of being detained briefly at a DUI checkpoint was far outweighed by the state’s interest in protecting the public safety by catching DUIs. As a result, even though there is a search & seizure, it is reasonable (and thus constitutional) despite the lack of reasonable suspicion or probable cause.

          But, note, such stops are not reasonable when used for general law enforcement purposes, such as drug interdiction or license checks, because there isn’t the imminent public safety concern. But, in practice this means that police departments who want to do a checkpoint for license checks or drug interdiction merely need to call the checkpoint a sobriety checkpoint, and if at the checkpoint they develop probable cause, they can then search the car for drugs, guns, etc.

          • Zoning Victim

            I fail to see where the constitution made room for that and it’s an extremely dangerous precedent. A lot of people think it’s in the interest of public safety to get rid of illegal aliens, people who beat their kids, people who carry weapons, politicians (j/k), etc. Given that criteria, one could easily see this expanding to where you can do a lot of searches and seizures without a warrant. I wonder what isn’t a privilege in our lives, anymore. Is riding a bike a privilege? You can get a DUI for doing so drunk, so maybe we need checkpoints for them, too. How about a horse or a skate board? Is swimming a privilege? What about being confined to a wheelchair; is that a privilege? I’ve heard of one case where a man was cited for DUI while in his wheelchair. Maybe talking on the phone is a privilege now and everyone should expect to have roving Big Brother wire taps periodically to make sure they are not doing anything that could be construed as an eminent public threat. Maybe we can just label everything as a privilege and then search anyone at any time for any reason. I’m sure everyone who reads this could easily come up with 20 things that are a privilege to be able to do.

            There are more murders every year in the US than there are drunken driving fatalities (16,000 murders versus about 11,000 alcohol related deaths); so it seems far more likely that the driver being pulled over at a sobriety checkpoint is driving somewhere to murder somebody than it is that they’re drunk. Maybe we should have roadside murderous lunatic checkpoints in addition to road side sobriety checks and phone wire taps. That way we could strap a polygraph to them and ask them a bunch of questions without obtaining a warrant; err, I mean stop people from murdering each other.

          • rft

            Fourth Amendment prohibits “unreasonable searches and seizures.” You might have a different definition of reasonable than the Court does, but it is at least plausible to argue that periodically asking drivers to stop to speak with an officer for 30 seconds is reasonable. On the other hand, you’re right that you would probably be surprised if you knew all of the various warrantless searches and seizures that were deemed to be reasonable.

            I don’t understand why people keep bringing up the world privilege. Privilege v. right has nothing to do with it. For fourth amendment, the analysis is simply this: Is the interaction with the police a search or seizure? If not, fourth amendment doesn’t apply. If so, is it reasonable? Reasonable includes a warrant issued on probable cause, but it includes a lot of other warrantless interactions too. E.g. pulling you over for speeding is a seizure, but it is reasonable in most cases despite the lack of a warrant.

            A different analysis would apply for different rights, but I can’t think of any where the concept of privilege matters. Perhaps in determining whether due process is required when denying a government benefit (like a welfare check), but even then I think the privilege concept has been superseded by a new framework.

          • Zoning Victim

            When you are pulled over for speeding, there has already been probable cause established. So far as I know, sobriety checkpoints constitute the only avenue in the US where you can detain someone and interrogate them without any probably cause whatsoever. It’s not akin to pulling over a speeder, it’s akin to pulling over everyone and asking them if they did speed or administering a test to you or your vehicle to check and see if you were speeding.

            The reference to privilege is because that’s how the government originally sold the drawback of our 4th amendment rights with regards to roadside checkpoints. The argument was that it’s a privilege to drive, not a right, so if you exercise your privilege to drive you are also basically signing off on the fact that your 4th amendment right doesn’t apply. It’s kind of the same thing as saying “if you don’t like the TSA looking at your naked image or searching you in a pat-down, then you don’t have to fly.” Now that everyone is used to having roadside checkpoints around, they can just say it’s not an unreasonable search because there is a public safety concern. I think both arguments are bunk and fail to see where this couldn’t be applied to almost anything since most laws are all about public safety.

          • UrsusMajeure

            RFT has the constitutional analysis right.
            Also, I don’t think the ‘murderer checkpoints’ argument works. To conclude on the basis of those numbers (16,000 murders and 11,000 drunk driving-related fatalities) that murderer checkpoints are more justified and/or would be more effective than DUI checkpoints, you’d have to believe that (i) every instance of drunk driving results in a fatality, and (ii) the police could always (or nearly always) detect a murderer based on a traffic stop…

          • rft

            I agree that there are a lot of idiots on the internet saying “if you don’t like the TSA looking at your naked image or searching you in a pat-down, then you don’t have to fly,” but that is not the constitutional analysis. The constitutional analysis is the same for airports as it is for any other interaction with the authorities.

            First, is it a search or seizure? Yes, airport screening is a search; you have an expectation of privacy in your person and effects. Second, is the search reasonable? Well, the Court hasn’t looked at the most recent TSA procedures, but the analysis will be to balance (1) the importance of the government’s interest with (2) the invasiveness of the search. But the concept of “if you don’t like it then don’t fly” is not part of the constitutional analysis.

    • JamesE

      Statistically speaking checkpoints are actually fairly poor at getting dui arrests, but they are very good at getting people for other violations like stickers and outstanding warrants.

      • Arlington, Northside

        When pre-announced, they are very good at getting folks to have a DD.

        • Zoning Victim

          I’d love to see proof of that because I seriously doubt that it’s true.

          • Westover

            I do not know who has done the studies that have been done, but there is a lot of anecdotal evidence that is easy to find. http://vermontdailynews.com/2009/09/police-at-dui-checkpoint-find-more-designated-drivers/

          • Westover

            A major component of the checkpoints, beyond taking dangerous drivers off the road, is to increase awareness of the consequences of impaired driving and to encourage using sober designated drivers. A DUI checkpoint is a proven effective method for achieving this goal. By publicizing these enforcement and education efforts, the Arlington County Police Department believes motorists are deterred from drinking and driving.

          • Zoning Victim

            Westover, anecdotal evidence is hardly reliable when trying to establish cause and effect. The checkpoint article you provide is anecdotal evidence that sobriety checkpoints are horribly inefficient ways to bust drunk drivers: 840 cars pulled over for two arrests is a pathetic showing. Those are Barney Fife numbers. In regards to there being more designated drivers now; I don’t think that can be attributed to roadside checks, which actually do nothing to let the general public know the consequences of driving drunk, IMO. I’d say the targeted advertisements over the last five years that spell out the average penalty in this country for getting a first time DUI are a more likely cause for that. In fact, DUI’s have declined ever since the formation of MADD.

            I’d argue that it’s so easy to get around in this town on the cheap that anyone driving drunk has already decided that not being “inconvenienced” to have to preplan alternative transportation every time they go out or go back and get their car when they’re too drunk to drive is worth the risk of getting caught. With that being the case, I have a hard time with the thought that announcing roadside checkpoints equates to fewer drunk drivers. If I believed that, I’d be wondering why they don’t do it every night whether they actually set one up or not.

          • Westover

            California Office of Traffic Safety did the study that determined that check points and their accompanied publicity increase the number of Designated Drivers.

  • Glebe

    don’t drive drunk, but still avoid if possible. Last one I saw was southbound on Glebe approaching Rt. 50.

  • Darwin

    Will officers be checking immigration status? LOL!

    • Arlington, Northside

      Yup, if theperson is arrested for DUI. 😉

  • Clarendude

    I think in Virginia you can legally have open alcohol containers in the car with you (like a beer in a drink holder), yet it is illegal to be walking down the sidewalk with an open beer.

    • Courthouse Res

      I think you’re wrong. You can only have alcohol in your car if it’s in a closed container, like you just bought it at the store. You can’t have an open beer in a drink holder in VA!

      • mehoo

        I think you’re right.

        • Westover

          In the Commonwealth of Virginia, those not driving may have open alcohol containers in a vehcle, the driver may not have an open container and may not consume alcohol while driving. If you are the only one in the car, there better not be an open container in the car.

          • PurpleFlipFlops

            Does Arlington have any local ordinances against passengers having open containers (containing alcohol?)

      • TGEoA


        Virginia has no open container laws.

    • Clarendude


      The passenger can have open container and be drinking. An open container may create a “rebuttable assumption” if the driver is also found to be acting in a manner consistent with drinking.

      § 18.2-323.1. Drinking while operating a motor vehicle; possession of open container while operating a motor vehicle and presumption; penalty.

      A. It shall be unlawful for any person to consume an alcoholic beverage while driving a motor vehicle upon a public highway of this Commonwealth.

      B. A rebuttable presumption that the driver has consumed an alcoholic beverage in violation of this section shall be created if (i) an open container is located within the passenger area of the motor vehicle, (ii) the alcoholic beverage in the open container has been at least partially removed and (iii) the appearance, conduct, odor of alcohol, speech or other physical characteristic of the driver of the motor vehicle may be reasonably associated with the consumption of an alcoholic beverage.

      For the purposes of this section:

      “Open container” means any vessel containing an alcoholic beverage, except the originally sealed manufacturer’s container.

      “Passenger area” means the area designed to seat the driver of any motor vehicle, any area within the reach of the driver, including an unlocked glove compartment, and the area designed to seat passengers. This term shall not include the trunk of any passenger vehicle, the area behind the last upright seat of a passenger van, station wagon, hatchback, sport utility vehicle or any similar vehicle, the living quarters of a motor home, or the passenger area of a motor vehicle designed, maintained or used primarily for the transportation of persons for compensation, including a bus, taxi, or limousine, while engaged in the transportation of such persons.

      C. A violation of this section is punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor

      • bouncinggorilla

        That effectively makes it illegal, unless you want to deal with the courts and establishing an affirmative defense that you were not drinking.

        • Westover

          Only for the driver. If the driver has nothing on his/her breath, the cop is going to let them go.

  • PurpleFlipFlops

    I wonder what kind of reaction they have when they see a firearm on my passenger seat (or a small arsenal on my backseat) as I pass through one of these “checkpoints.”

    Legally, nothing wrong has been done as open carry is legal in the commonwealth.

    • Lou

      You know how I know you don’t own a handgun?

    • Rover

      Better tell them as soon as they approach the window that it is there and the status of it (loaded or unloaded). Be prepared to listen to directions, including exiting the vehicle with your hands where they can see them. Be prepared to be asked if they can search the vehicle. Do not, under any circumstance, be anything but polite and obedient to the officer. You will just be asking for big trouble.

      That said, it is your right to open carry in VA. It is also your right to conseal carry if you have a permit.

    • mehoo

      You sure seem obsessed with showing off how you can carry a gun if you want to. Good for you.

    • el fat kid

      if you open carry, you’re not concealing much…

  • Just the facts

    The goal of DUI checkpoints is not mass arrests. In fact, despite of the high traffic locations, ACPD rarely arrests more than 5 people at any given checkpoint. More arrests are made by officers that are on routine patrol. But, checkpoints get more publicity. In fact, publicity is required. VA has guidelines for how these things are performed. And these requirements include reporting to local media outlets, such as TV, radio, internet, newspapers. Billboards are also utilized for several days prior to the checkpoint. The checkpoints are generally paid for by federal grants. The officers typically stop all cars, which is another requirement, rather than selective stopping. And they often hand them a pamphlet outlining some pertinent statistics. The only people stopped are those showing signs of impairment. Drivers are not asked for ID or car registration, just a short interview to determine possible impairment. Courts have ruled that this is a legal practice, and no idiot posting in the above comments section can tell you otherwise. If you do not agree with the practice, how about you do not drink and drive. In the DC area, we have an abundance of mass transit and cabs, as well as an abundance of education about the dangers of drinking and driving.
    As for driving thru with a weapon in plain view, that has been done before. Feel free to try it again. The police are certainly allowed to stop you just as they have the cars preceeding you, and just as they will the cars that come behind you. But, you will be scrutinized, within the confines of the law, and don’t be surprised that you have additional officers assisting the officer that stops you. The world is full of attention getters out there, people that just love to have the spotlight. This can be due to boredom or political views, etc. My advice? Get a hobby, stop trying to be the guy that people talk about on websites like this.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    In Fairfax, VA: More than 170,000 vehicles have gone through DWI checkpoints over the past two years, netting a total of 247 arrests for DWI and 169,753 people, (99.85%) stopped for no reason. Taxpayer cost $1,000,000+

    • mehoo

      All that matters is the cost vs. arrests. 247 drunk driving arrests for 1 mil, sounds about right.

  • The Pope of South Arlington

    In the 1998 Congressional session, 84 Representatives and Senators were stopped for drunken driving and released after they claimed Congressional immunity. It should be noted, however, that there is a big difference between being stopped for “suspicion” of DUI and actually being charged with the offense. More than one police officer, however, told Capitol Hill Blue they are not allowed to charge members of Congress.

    “I’ve stopped Senators who were so drunk they couldn’t remember their own name,” says one Fairfax County police officer. “And I was ordered to let them drive home.”

    During late-night Congressional sessions, Representatives and Senators often spend time between votes in the private Republican and Democratic clubs or any of a dozen other Capitol Hill watering holes. One Capitol Hill police officer says he has had to jump out of the way more than once to avoid being run down by a drunken member of Congress roaring out of a House office garage.

    “But there’s not a damn thing I can do about it,” he says, “Not if I want to keep my job.”

    Sgt. Joe Gentile of the D.C. police admits city police do not issue traffic tickets to senators and representatives while Congress is in session. Alexandria and Montgomery County claim members of Congress receive no special treatment for traffic violations, but records show 47 members were released without tickets last year. Arlington and Prince George’s county refuse to reveal their policies, but records show members are rountinely released without charge in both counties.

    Members of Congress feel no compulsion to obey the law. District of Columbia police issued 2,912 parking tickets to cars owned by members of Congress in 1998. None were paid. The financially strapped District, which actively pursues and “boots” cars belonging to ordinary citizens, does not go after members of Congress.


    • el fat kid

      Dear Pope – none of the ‘facts’ you cite are true.

      CapitolHillBlue is a joke. They’ve been discredited repeatedly. A couple idiots who pretend to know something about politics/journalism/research who just make shit up. Seriously – these numbers are entirely made up and a little common sense should tell you that, if not the google will.

      • The Pope of South Arlington

        Well, I asked the Google and he told me this-

        Approximately 720 motorists were stopped in the westbound lanes of Arlington Boulevard near the intersection of Annandale Road. Four arrests were made for DWI and three summonses were issued for traffic offenses. (99.45% stopped for no reason)


        “A couple idiots who pretend to know something about politics/journalism/research who just make shit up”

        That covers just about ALL of the news/media organizations in North America.

        The 5ft 80 pound Sally soccer mom in her 8 door 5 ton SUV with her 5 pint starbucks coffee slurpee poses a bigger threat to the public than even the most flammable Mexican! Do I even need to mention the smartphone zombies with their head’s in their laps?

        • el fat kid

          yeah, those numbers are great but they have nothing to do with the completely made up and false crap you were talking about regarding members of congress being arrested.

          here’s a link in case you need some help… http://www.factcheck.org/2009/04/an-unlawful-congress/

          • Lou

            The mistake in the numbers was probably because they were all attributed to Patrick Kennedy, not ALL members of Congress.

          • el fat kid

            not fair, funny or accurate.

          • The Pope of South Arlington

            You sound like a precocious 5 year old with pictures of your favorite congressmen on your wall over your bed – “hey man don’t talk about my congressman, that’s not fair!!!!” A couple of know nothing-never done nothin-never been anywhere, janeane garofalo types sitting behind a monitor at Annenberg’s factcheck just aint gonna do it for me son. How much investigating can you do with your ass glued to an office chair in Pennsylvania? What you get at factcheck is deductive reasoning, not investigation. Maybe i’ll ask them if Santa Claus is real?

            The catch & release policy for drunk congressman and their staffers is an open secret in DC, take my word for it. Same goes for the congressman pulling a George Michael at Lady bird johnson park and Roosevelt Island. I dont need a website to know these things.

          • Westover

            You don’t need a website to spread populist lies, but here you are doing it.. Pope, are you also one of those that believe that Congressmen get their full salary as a pension even if defeated after one term? You can believe the stories, but the truth can be more fun if not as damning.

    • mehoo

      Your silly claims about members of Congress was discredited long before this goofy website stole it.

  • Henry Spencer

    Haven’t seen one in a while, but WB Rt 50 in the pulloff for Lubber Run park is another favorite spot for a checkpoint.

  • Zack

    There was a big one a few months back on N. Glebe across from the car wash between 50 and Ballston. Don’t drink and drive, take a cab!

  • Arlington is cool, not

    Last time I saw one it was on South Glebe just South of Ballston Mall. Be careful people..

  • SB

    The one this weekend was on s. Glebe right at the post office south of Columbia Pike. I drove through around 1am. They did not stop me; I think it was because the lot was completely full of people already stopped and there was no more room.

  • Westover

    Anyone know how many arrests the check point made?


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