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‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ on Friday

by ARLnow.com September 20, 2011 at 9:30 am 9,993 103 Comments

Arlington County Police and the Arlington County Sheriff’s Office will be conducting a sobriety checkpoint on Friday as part of a national DUI crackdown.

The checkpoint will be set up at an undisclosed location in the county.

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

“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,” police said.

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

  • CW

    Informal survey – will the undisclosed location be in the north or the south?

    My money is on south.

    • Henry Spencer

      It’s been a while since there has been one on Rt. 50 @ Lubber Run, which would be neither north or south.

    • Sarah

      It’s in the north. Washington Blvd between N. Quincy and N. Nelson. Drove through as they were setting up.

  • Pablo Escobar

    Pablo Escobar is most disappointed with the name of said enforcement effort – “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.” This is the best we can do? Where are the wordsmiths of DARE-yesteryear? Why not:

    Sober Drive Do or Die
    Random Friendly Chat Time
    Quick Farts Can’t Cover Booze Smell

    • Tabby

      Speak for your own farts, Pablo. Mine would make the officer’s eyes water.

  • charlie

    it should be in front of the American Legion Post. older drunker people with american-made metal.

  • Alison

    How is this legal, considering the constitutional protection from unreasonable searches?

    • CW

      Because “unreasonable” is trumped by “probable cause”, and somewhere in some body of common law some judge deemed being out in a car on a night when people tend to drink to constitute probable cause.

    • Andrew

      Do a search for Michigan Department of State Police v. Sitz

    • UnlimitedCustoms

      Perfect venue to discuss this. Arlnow is full of legal scholars (or wannabees…)

      I’ll start. It’s not legal, but based upon the actions our government has taken over the past 30 years, especially with the war on drugs, it doesn’t matter.

      • brif

        The U.S. Supreme Court says it is legal and the fact is sobriety checkpoints save lives.


        • GreaterClarendon

          If I recall law school correctly, you have a right to make a legal U turn to go the other way if you are stopped in the check point line, and leaving is not probable cause to pull you over. But I didn’t go to law school in VA – so not sure about that here.

          • GreaterClarendon

            Of course, the police may set it up so there are no legal U-Turns.

          • UnlimitedCustoms

            Wow, talk about police state.

          • charlie

            cool picture. it warms my cockels.

          • hank hill

            that is a pic of Fairfax police

        • Boom! Roasted

          If we banned stupid people from driving, it would save lives.

          If we banned old people from driving, it would save lives.

          If we banned women from driving, it would save lives.

          If we banned everyone from driving, it would save lives.

          In fact, we shouldn’t allow people to drink ever because it would save lives.

          I need a better reason than that.

      • Andrew

        Per my previous post, the Supreme Court has ruled that stops such as these are legal (or at least they are not unconstitutional).

        • Jon

          Actually, as I recall, Clarence Thomas wrote the opinion and basically said, in so many words, “It’s unconstitutional, but we’ve got to do something to stop drunk drivers- so it’s okay by me.”

          • Tabby

            Is that a pube on your Coke can?

          • drax

            Clarence Thomas wasn’t on the Court yet.

            The opinion most certainly did not say “it’s unconstitutional, but so what?” Really? You think they would actually write such an opinion?

          • Josh S

            Clarence Thomas would.

            If Scalia told him to.

      • Legal or not, you likely waived the right to challenge it when you got your drivers license.

        • Josh S

          Uh, no. Credit card companies may have you sign away your life in the fine print, but I don’t recall any fine print when I got my license. Also, I’m not sure you COULD waive your right to challenge the consitutionality of government practices. They’re sort of – what? – oh, inalienable.

          • Out of curiosity, I pulled what the Virginia Driver’s Manual says about Alcohol and the Law:

            “If you are arrested for drinking and driving, the penalties are
            severe. If the police have probable cause to stop you and
            suspect that you have been drinking or using drugs, they will
            ask you to take a breath or blood test. Under implied consent
            laws, if you operate a motor vehicle on Virginia’s public roads,
            you agree to take a test upon request. If you are involved
            in a motor vehicle crash and a law enforcement officer has
            probable cause, you can be arrested for DUI within three
            hours of the crash without a warrant and at any location.”

    • Arlwhenver

      Thing is, I couldn’t recite the alphabet backwards, walk in a straight line heel to toe or stand on one foot, even if I hadn’t had a beer in months. Yet there would be no probable cause to stop me because I drive safely and soberly, without weaving, and at the speed limit or below. I am sick and tired of the police state around here — this will come to no good end.

      • Personally, I agree with you Arlwhenver. Why should I be subjected to a search because someone else may be doing something wrong? I feel that way about random drug testing too. Yet, I understand why it is being done and that it does generally improve the safety of the community. That said, how far is too far? What else will they be looking for during this stop? If they come across an undocumented alien, will they be arrested as they should be or let go?

      • Sounds like a personal problem, Randy.

    • Really guys?

      I understand everyone is allowed their opinion and I respect yours, but your first response to an article about this is how is this legal? Honestly, even if it is illegal id be okay with it. Get the drunk idiots off the road and hey if it causes me a minute or two extra to get home Im perfectly okay with it. Half the danger is sober people on the road being hit by drunken idiots.

      This saves lives, and people in Arlington question its legality, amazing.

      • Evil


        • Boom! Roasted

          Also, think of the children!


      • Alison

        Lots of things could save lives but they’re totally contrary to the spirit of our country. (Why not search everyone for weapons when they enter a grocery store, otherwise?) Patriotism demands that we ask questions.

      • J

        Really, we shouldn’t question something’s legality? Try doing your civic duty and not discouraging discussion about the appropriate role for police, rather than trying to shame people who raise legitimate questions. You’re the one who’s a bad citizen.

        • Illegal immigrants openly question and demonstrate against the legality of the laws, despite breaking them. You should not feel as if you have to blindly go down the path determined for you. Yet, you should realize when a path has a benefit.

      • Josh S

        I think it’s your duty to wonder about any use of government force to detain citizens, even if only briefly.

        It’s scary when citizens find this sort of thing normal and unobjectionable.

        • Really guys?

          I never said that we should not question anything at all. I have no problem with approaching things with skeptism, however something so benefical to the society as a whole being questioned is just unbelieveable to me.

          • Josh S

            Well, I’d just say that, for example, southerners argued that slavery was “beneficial to the society.”

            Yes, it’s an extreme example but the point is the same. Benefits to society should not always trump your rights and to simply dismiss the issue after presuming those benefits is not helpful to maintaining them.

      • yes, really

        Hey “really guys?” I suspect there are drugs in your rectum. We’ll be doing a search. Don’t complain, after all, whatever it takes to get drunk idiots off the road is worth it, right?

    • Evil

      Assuming you are all legally licensed to drive in the state of VA, then you have already agreed to these types of stops.

      While you can refuse to partake in a checkpoint stop, you can not refuse a breath/blood test once there’s probably cause to your driving under the influence… and cops have distinct clues to look for.
      Refusing a blood/alcohol test btw is an automatic suspension of your driver’s license.

      I’m amazed at how many people complain about things like checkpoints and then in a different article will complain about the lack of police presence around the community.

      These checkpoints do a great deal of good for the community – by catching drunks, unlicensed drivers and various other law breakers.
      At the very most, they’re a minor inconvenience to the rest of us law abiding citizens.

      • Jon

        “At the very most, they’re a minor inconvenience to the rest of us law abiding citizens.”

        So is quartering troops for most of us who have couches or spare beds. That doesn’t make it outrageous and wrong.

        • drax

          I’ll take a brief traffic stop over a bunch of smelly Redcoats sleeping in my living room any day.

      • How can you refuse to participate in a checkpoint stop? I know I’ve seen people turn around as they approach, only to be stopped by a waiting officer who is sitting ready to pull over those avoiding the stop.

    • drax

      The drivers aren’t being searched, just stopped and observed. If they smell alcohol, etc. then they may have cause to do a search.

  • John B

    I’d love to see it on Fairfax Dr or Clarendon/Wilson Bl. Unfortunately it would snarl traffic so I think it’s unlikely to see it there. Lee Hwy would be another good spot.

    But as far as your survey goes, probably south, down by Four Mile Run.

    • John Fontain

      I’ll go with the southbound lanes of Washington Blvd just south of the intersection of 10th Street North starting at about 12:30pm. That is one of the prime exit routes for the non-local drunks leaving Clarendon at night.

      • UnlimitedCustoms

        Agreed. Maybe the on-ramp to 66 West from Fairfax as well.

      • Ben

        If I remember correctly – last time they had one it was on Fairfax Blvd in front of the FDIC building / GMU Campus.

        Wouldn’t be surprised if it’s there again.

    • Anon

      They’ve done them in the past on Fairfax right by the FDIC. Catches the people heading back to 66W in Ballston from Clarendon.

    • Aaron

      The only time I’ve been through one it was on eastbound Wilson Blvd, between Adams and Veitch, pretty much the perfect location for catching Clarendon partiers heading back to the District. We can just keep pretending that the poor southies have it so bad though.

  • This is a very good thing and I thank the Arlington police for their efforts.

  • Bluemontsince1961

    They should have a day for “Drive Undistracted or Get Pulled Over”. I’ve had more close calls and scares from drivers texting, yakking on their cell phones, or otherwise focusing on their tech toys instead of concentrating on driving than I’ve had from DUI drivers.

    • I’m with you Bluemont. I think there are many more distracted drivers than drunk, and they come at all hours of the day or night. Using any device, gadget, or reading a book while driving should hold a stiff penalty.

    • I agree. The only serious car accident I ever had was with a person talking on a cell phone. Rammed into my car when I was stopped at a red light and caused thousands of dollars worth of damage and numerous medical expenses.

      Like your idea. This may be more productive than a drunk pullover. Very good suggestion.

      • Coach Taylor

        “Eyes on the road, Hands on the wheel, Can’t Lose Your License”

      • Lee-n-Glebe

        I think it would be interesting to do a non-scientific study of distracted driving in Clarendon. Hang out by the Wilson/Washington light for an hour or so and count the number of cars stopping at the light where the driver appears to be tech-ing. Maybe I’d refine it (because I’m the one pulling the idea out of my posterior, I get to make the rules!!) and exempt hands-free phone talking (but not hand-held).

        • Novanglus

          I do that survey every afternoon, while trying to cross Wilson on the crosswalk at Wayne. More than 50% of drivers are distracted by tech. That makes it very difficult to cross there without a light.

          It would be great if a plain-clothes cop did the “survey” and motioned people to pull over (although it’s unlikely they’ll see him motion). Could be stressful work, but he could follow it up with an undercover visit to a massage parlor.

    • Clarendon

      Sort of related to lots of the discussion – is why not just enact real punishments for the behavior rather than pre-emptively assuming everyone is guilty?

      So, if you are in an accident that is your fault (regardless of reason) suspend the license to drive for a year. Another offense and you lose your driving privledge.

      Now, the only real penalty is higher insurance.

      The reason they don’t do something along these lines is that driving is a prerequisite for life for so many. And, that is the real problem.

  • FedUp

    Apparently, ALL vehicles will get pulled over. So I would call this “Drive Sober AND get pulled over”. Strange to announce the program like this. What happened to suprise check points?

    • The announcement deters people from drinking and driving, thus saving lives. It also adds to general awareness.

      Now, if they’d only do something about the bigger problem: texting and driving.

      • FedUp

        Right, so it will deter people for one night. Smart!

    • SomeGuy

      I was going to write the same thing FedUp wrote. Everyone who routes into this checkpoint is getting pulled over. EVERYONE. Not just the non-sober.

      And of course, sobriety is subjective, despite the law’s adoption of a uniform standard.

  • cheeseeater

    Last time it was at the post office at s. glebe road and columbia pike.

  • Arl Resident

    Glad they finally stopped announcing in advance where the checkpoints were going to be. Seemed to be a bit counter-productive to give partiers a heads up on where not to drive that night.

  • Matt

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

    I’m well familiar with Michigan State Police v. Sitz. But this plainly exceeds the scope of what was deemed consistent with the 4th amendment in that case. In the checkpoint at issue there, police didn’t check licenses unless signs of intoxication were noted. I hope that anyone caught driving without a license or caught driving with an expired license will contact an attorney and fight the hell out of this one.

    • Evil

      And this is what’s wrong with society today… you think you have the right to sue when you in fact are doing something illegal!

      Why don’t we just get rid of all laws, let everything be a free-for-all, do-as-you-please society.

      Give me a break!

  • Tgeoa

    Refuse the test

    • NoVapologist

      in Virginia that gets you a mandatory one year suspension of your license and they still charge you with DUI.

      • John B

        My understanding is that you get charged with a refusal to blow which is not quite a DUI. Or that you get charged with a DUI but it doesn’t necessarily result in a conviction. You still get a year suspended licence either way. I may be wrong though.

        • NoVapologist

          They are two separate charges. If you refuse to blow you will get charged with Refusal and get a one year suspension (with no exemptions for driving to work or the like). You will also likely still be charged with DUI, but the cops won’t have a slam-dunk case, as they would if you did blow.

        • Aaron

          I don’t think that’s quite right either. The way I understand it is that if you have been pulled over (for whatever reason) but not arrested, the police cannot force you to comply with their request for a breathylizer test. However they can immediately remedy that by arresting you on suspicion of drunk driving, at which point you cannot legally refuse a BAC test.

          It’s a no-win situation for the most part, as are most cases of trying to assert your rights (e.g., refusing to allow a police officer to search your vehicle without a warrant).

          • Lou

            I think you are essentially correct. Unless the police have detained you, they have very little if any power to compel you to do anything. That’s why before agreeing to do anything the police ask you should ask if you are being detained, and then they will have to express their probably cause for detaining you. If they say you are not being detained, you just turn and walk in the opposite direction or drive away.

    • Take the test and challenge the accuracy of the device in court. Make them show recent calibration documentation on the device. If it isn’t very recent, make them show documentation on how the testing device is stored and handled. If they can’t, then it could be inaccurate due to improper storage and handling. Ensure the provided documentation serial numbers match that on the device.

      • I would also recommend putting your voice recorder in your cell phone on when you are waiting in line to get to the checkpoint. That way, everything the officer says to you is record should it be needed in court.

        • NoVapologist

          Alternatively, you could exhibit some character and personal responsibility and either A) not drive drunk, or B) accept the consequences that you were well aware you would suffer if you were caught.

    • me

      You cannot refuse the test, without getting your license revoked, however according to a friend of mine, their lawyer advised them to say something like this”Officer, I am not refusing the test, however, I have been advised by my attorney not to take any tests or answer any questions without him present. If necessary, I will contact him, and he will come here to be present during the administration of the test or any questioning.”
      *Roughly paraphrased, he had it on a card.
      They cant just pull your license, as you are not refusing the test and you are acting under attorneys advisement, so they are limited in what they can make you do.
      However, if you need to resort to this, you rare the one that is the problem.

  • NoVapologist

    I have been through a few Fairfax County checkpoints and I don’t recall that they ever asked to see my license, except for the one time I acknowledged having a couple of beers.

    • Uh. Big mistake.

      • NoVapologist

        Not really. It was like 2:00AM. I had a couple of beers with dinner at 8-ish. I figured if they went as far as to make me blow, I would get pretty close to 0.00. Instead, I was told to pull into a parking lot, the cop looked at my license and registration, asked me a couple of questions, and I was quickly on my way home.

        I have had great success being completely honest with the po-po.

        • Evil

          You expect these people to be honest! They actually think they have a right to act illegally.

          But yes, that’s usually how it goes with checkpoints.
          They are trying to arrest innocent people.. if you haven’t done anything wrong – you’ll be sent merrily on your way.

  • John

    The location is as of yet undisclosed. I’m fairly certain they must disclose the location to the public at some point beforehand to get around the 4th amendment. Usually they bury it online or in the newspaper. At least this used to be the case.

    You don’t have to answer any of the officer’s questions, other than provide license and registration.

    You are allowed to perform any legal maneuvers to change your vehicles direction. If you don’t use a turn signal, they can pull you over however.

    You can and should always decline/refuse the field sobriety tests. It’s a judgement call by the officer of whether or not you will pass. You are required to take the breath/blood test if asked.

  • All_about_ME

    If they set up infront of Spider Kellys it would be like shooting fish in a barrell!!!!!

  • Josh S

    Why were all three of my comments deleted?

    • Not sure what you’re talking about. No comments have been deleted.

    • Josh S

      Never mind.

    • Lou

      I have to hit ctrl-f5 now to get his site to do a full refresh and update comments, etc.

  • Steve

    Kind of dishonest to be called “drive sober or get pulled over” when you pull EVERYONE over regardless of being sober or not.

    • InCounty


  • Steve

    Can you imagine just if one of the multitude of incompetent arlington drivers rams into the checkpoint like they do with buildings?

    • If they kill a police woman and her police dog, do you think they will get 200 hours of community service?

  • DudeGuy

    It is pretty simple. Keep a 22oz can of beer in your car this weekend. When you get pulled over and the cop gets to your window make sure he sees you POP open the can and start chugging. Make sure the car is in Park with the ebrake on. BAM! can’t prove you were driving while drunk since you just opened a can in front of him and chugged. When they BAC you then they can’t prove you were drinking before hand. No driving just parking and drinking a beer. Much less crime with open container.

    • drax

      Here’s my sneaky way of weaseling out of a DWI:

      Don’t drive drunk.

      • DudeGuy

        Nothing sneaky about that.

    • ArlForester

      Yeah, um, good luck with that. You shouldn’t listen to urban legends.

    • charlie

      wrong. if you are behind the wheels and keys are in the vehicle you WILL BE CHARGED.
      but go ahead…

  • Clarendon Cruiser

    I wonder if Arlington Now can track down this story. I witnessed this after the accident occured.

    On saturday night (17 SEP ~1900) a black SUV GMC drove straight through the ‘T’ intersection of S. Hudson and 11th Street, Clarendon and plowed into the telephone pole. The vehicle became inoperable since it drained its engine oil. The Air Bags deployed. This is right next to the fire station and post office loading dock.

    The owner(?) / operator abandoned and fled the scene before the police showed up. The police simply towed the vehicle after searching it.

    I thought it was pretty sneaky the driver fled the scene of the accident. I hypothesized that he fled the scene so that he would not have to submit the BAC test immediately and could always deny that he was driving the vehicle later.

  • charlie

    in the last two years there was one on Fairfax Drive in front of Rio Grande as people were headed to 66 and Manassas.

  • Hank

    If the DWI checkpoint finds an Illegal alien will they be prosecuted or just look the opther way?

    • Stephen

      Yeah, or what about an oil executive who cheats on his taxes?

      What basis would you make for a driver being an illegal alien? Brown skin? Spanish speaking? Purple tint on an ’87 Corolla?

      County police do not investigate federal crimes like illegal immigration at DUI checkpoints. If the illegal alien doesn’t have a valid driver’s license, he will be charged with that crime. The County may refer his case to ICE, but they do not have jurisdiction to prosecute federal crimes in County court.

  • Allthatglimmersisnotgold

    If you refuse all the tests (field tests and BAC test in the jail) the officer can write a search warrant for a hospital administered blood test to get your BAC. I speak from experience having gotten a Dui in my college days. Like many of you I “thought” I knew the law before actually going through the process. Refusing got me nowhere except for a full year suspende license and thousands in fines. Also a trip to the hospital surrounded my guards ready to hold me down…needless to say i cooperated fully sitting on a bed with handcuffs on. Luckily no jail time. It was a life changing experience to say the least.
    Since then I have found that honesty works best when it comes to dealing with police.

  • ArlLawyer

    I believe that I have a “right” to fly in a commercial aircraft without fear that I will get blown up by a terrorist. Therefore, I willingly submit to the TSA searches at airports even though I and 99% of those searched with me are not terrorists and I am inconvenienced by needing to get to the airport much earlier than I would prefer.

    I also believe that I have a “right” to drive/walk/bike on Arlington County streets without fear that I will be killed or maimed by a drunk driver. Therefore I willingly submit to the police DUI checkpoints even though I and 99% of those stopped with me are not drunk drivers and I am inconvenienced by needing to spend two or three minutes demonstrating to a police officer or deputy sheriff that I am safe to drive.

    Yes, the police are required to notify the public that there will be a sobriety checkpoint (the date alone is sufficient) and the location (the county or city alone is sufficient). Obviously that has been done as witnessed by this discussion.

    Yes, you can refuse to take the breath test, but, if the officer has any reason to suspect that you are drunk or on drugs, loss of your license for 12 months is virtually automatic in court. Plus, the officer can then get a blood test that is even harder to defend against than a breath test.

    If, after all of the warnings that the police and this Website have sent out, you still decide to drive drunk and you get caught, remember that I and any one of several other lawyers are ready to help you get the best deal possible (which seldom includes acquittal) for about $5,000.

  • no more for me, thanks

    grabbing supper and a beer before heading to Kettler for the Caps Alumni game. Think I’ll skip the beer.

  • ThisIsNotRussia

    The location of the trap is on Washington Blvd between N Quincy St and N Nelson St. Basically between by the Virginia Square Giant and Washington and Lee High School.


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