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ACPD to Conduct Sobriety Checkpoint on Friday

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.

  • ph7

    If you ever find yourself in a sobriety checkpoint, the officer will ask you “how much have you had to drink tonight” (not, “have you been drinking tonight?”). The correct answer is ALWAYS “Nothing, Sir!” Any other answer will lead to an automatic sobriety test. If the officer doesn’t believe you, he may order you to pull over for a test anyway, but he’ll need probable cause. The moment you tell him “just a beer with dinner” or some other clever answer drunk people think up, you’ve given him probable cause to conduct the test, and it WILL be performed.

    I’ve been through this situation twice – once as a passenger, once as a driver (spare me your judgments), and both times “Nothing, Sir” got us waived through the checkpoint, despite having spent the entire evening drinking in a bar.

    Now, take this advice and sin no more.

    • Arlington Chris

      I’ll spare you the judgment.

      Obviously, the fact that you could have killed someone as an impaired driver after the “entire evening drinking in a bar” is not worth mentioning or judging you about.

    • Hank

      Simply declaring “spare me you judgments” doesn’t give you immunity. Please don’t do stupid sh!t like drive drunk. There are eight gillion transportation options in this town and driving drunk is lazy and disregards other people’s safety, not to mention yours.

      • Ricky Bobby

        “with all do respect…”

      • ph7

        Of course, I wasn’t asking for immunity. I understood my advice would be unpopular with the scolds and finger waggers. Their admonitions are simply wasted, so should be spared, unless they are simply just getting off on delivering themselves a jolt of superiority.

        • H2SO4

          Ah right, and the family of the guy run down in Clarendon by Tyler Bruce Wills back in September – you’d call them a bunch of scolds and finger waggers? He must not have had mad drunk driving skills like you do hotshot. Cheers to you getting picked up sooner than later – you’re not as smart as you think you are.

          • ARL

            From the ArlNow update on the victim’s recovery:

            “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. ”

            Only scolds and finger-waggers care about that though.

        • ARL

          I think the only option at this point is for us to all hope ph7 goes out and kills himself without killing anyone else. That would be okay by me.

          • Hank

            I certainly hope ph7 doesn’t kill himself. I’d rather he not put himself in the position to kill himself in the first place.

          • ARL

            Yes, but do you think he’s smart enough for that? Clearly not. We can only hope he kills himself first, or at least gets arrested and serves enough time with Bruno the large, friendly cell-mate to grow up.

          • Arlington Chris

            That is a terrible thing to say. I don’t agree with ph7 either but this is just a terrible comment.

        • QTR

          I love how you call people who object to your awful decision to drive drunk as “scolds” and “finger waggers”. And then you accuse THEM of acting superior. Wow.

      • Bob

        Relax puritan.

        • ARL

          There’s nothing puritan about opposing drunk driving. It’s stupid and dangerous. It’s not the same thing as opposing drinking.

    • H2SO4

      And hopefully the officer has at least 2 or 3 functioning braincells to see through your bullshart… If you’ve been drinking don’t drive, period, and you won’t have to worry about practicing your lie. Even if a cab ride is $100, it’s cheaper than the thousands in fines you’ll pay, court time, community service, DMV issues, etc. getting a DUI or god forbid killing somebody.

    • drax

      If you ever find yourself in a sobriety checkpoint, don’t be drunk.

    • GuinnessPhish

      Exactly right. The ONLY correct answer is: “Nothing, officer.”

      Or you could try this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ILqc0DMh84k

    • BlueSkies

      Your concern should be not killing or injuring someone else, not trying to save your own butt. Not judging, of course.

      I wonder if announcing the checkpoint in advance for a certain night is a good idea, as it may help people evade it better. Thinking a surprise checkpoint may be more effective.

      • Doug

        Its hard to evade when you dont know where it is. I always think it is better to announce. Ignoring the cost for a moment, if people knew there was going to be a DUI check point every single Thursday-Saturday night somewhere in Arlington, I suspect far fewer people will chance it and drive drunk or even buzzed for fear of driving into a checkpoint.

      • Kush

        Yes, but then you’re only catching people that already chose to drink and drive. By announcing it, if you get people to think twice and don’t do it in the first place, that’s the outcome you want. And if they still do it anyway, they deserve getting the hammer.

      • Just the Facts

        Announcing w/ out giving the location achieves some level of deterrent without giving up the element of surprise.

    • ARL

      Irresponsible people like you, ph7, are why we need checkpoints in the first place.

    • JP

      Thank you jail house lawyer. Where did you get your law degree and when did you pass the bar? “Sin no more” You’re a joke!

    • happy cyclist

      And they call us scofflaws for slowing down at stop signs and not putting our feet down.

      • cyclist

        Every drunk driving death is a bicycle’s fault, somehow.

        • Pedestrian

          From the comments on this site, you’d think there was never a more persecuted group in history that people who choose to ride bicycles.

          • happycyclist

            I agree that say, Roma, or bahais, are more persecuted. The context here is modes of transportation.

          • cyclist

            From the comments on this site, you’d understand why.

    • Sandra

      I’m not a lawyer, but it seems to me that saying “nothing Sir” when you’ve been in a bar drinking all night, amounts to perjury. If there is a lawyer out there, seems to me ph7 could have been charged with DUI and making false statements to the officer. If you’ve been drinking all night and don’t have a designated driver, I agree with the person who said there are many options for transportation in Arlington. There are no excuses. Don’t hit my car or me because of your lack of judgement.

      • spr1

        It is not perjury because you are not under oath. I know there is a federal law against lying to a federal investigator (cf. Martha Stewart), but I’m not sure if such a law exists in Virginia.

        • Just the Facts

          In Virginia it’s only illegal to lie to a cop about crimes committed by another person, not yourself.

          § 18.2-460. Obstructing justice; penalty.

          D. Any person who knowingly and willfully makes any materially false statement or representation to a law-enforcement officer or an animal control officer employed pursuant to § 3.2-6555 who is in the course of conducting an investigation of a crime by another is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

      • Alec B

        I’m no lawyer but I play one on TV

    • Joe

      I appreciate the lookout ph7, do not take negative comments below seriously, those hall monitors are the same people that stay in petting their cats every weekend.

      • drax

        Hey Joe, you need to grow up too. Drinking is aweseome, drunk driving is deadly.

      • Plutofan

        Hey winner! I can only imagine what you stay at home “petting” on weekend nights. Actually I’m pretty sure everyone already knows.

    • Just the Facts

      There’s at least one big flaw in your master plan: if an officer does develop reasonable suspicion (the required standard for a traffic stop–NOT probable cause, which is higher and is required for an arrest) to pull you out of line (say, the odor of alcohol on your breath as you deny drinking alcohol), the fact that you initially lied will be evidence against you in either a probable cause hearing or a full trial.

      And just because you were present in successfully pulling this off twice (maybe the officer didn’t detect anything further, maybe s/he was lazy) doesn’t mean it will always be successful.

  • Ballston Resident

    Thank you ACPD for doing this.

    • Chris M.

      So no one in this “progressive” county supports the great liberal justices Brennan and Stevens in their dissenting opinions in the case that allowed this awful abridgment of the 4th amendment.

      Justice Brennan: “That stopping every car might make it easier to prevent drunken driving…is an insufficient justification for abandoning the requirement of individualized suspicion”

      Justice Stevens: “The findings of the trial court, based on an extensive record
      and affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals, indicate that the net effect of
      sobriety checkpoints on traffic safety is infinitesimal and possibly

      • drax

        Um, one Ballston Resident doesn’t equal every single person in this “progressive” county.

        • Chris M.

          Um, great substantive response.

          I replied to one supporter, but the comment was addressing all of people in the comments showing support and not raising what I see as a critical problem with the entire concept of a sobriety checkpoint.

          Progressives just seem not to care about civil liberties nowadays. Please Google “Rand Paul filibuster.”

          • drax

            Oh, I see, so you’ve still got the same warped logic.

            Just because someone doesn’t say something doesn’t mean they believe the opposite.

            I’ve never once seen you post about how you don’t like to stomp puppies – does that mean you like to stomp puppies?

          • Chris M.

            What makes you enjoy devolving conversations into snark? Are
            you a lawyer who just likes to make minor tangential points in order to make yourself feel smart?

            This is a bit more than not saying anything:

          • QTR

            Maybe “progressives” as you call them care about their safety and the safety of their families, and judge the cost/benefit of sobriety checkpoints differently than you do. Not sure that means they “don’t care about civil liberties.” Don’t I have a “civil liberty” to live without being killed by a drunk?

          • drax

            The problem is that the Constitution is the judge of the checkpoints too. If they are unconstitutional, no benefit justifies them. I don’t know if they, are, but that’s the point of invoking “civil liberties”.

          • QTR

            They are. The Supreme Court has said so. Thus, the “civil liberties” argument is irrelevant, as it’s just one crank’s opinion.

          • Chris M.

            Ok, so I should not have used the “”, sorry.

            I tried to make the point above that this is not about safety. The stats say so. It allows police to look like they are doing something. It’s security theater. Of course I think you care about your family’s safety, we all do. Insert Ben Franklin’s quote about safety and security here.

      • progressive or statist?

        We don’t live in a progressive county. We live in a statist county.

        Arlington has a population of 300k and one gay bar. Birmingham, Alabama (3, 200k) has a higher gay bar to population ratio.

        And good luck finding a politician that supports drug legalization that can win in this County.

        People in Arlington believe the solution to every issue – no matter what it is – is more government and higher taxes. That is not progressive. That is statist.

        • drax

          Arlington cannot be compared to Birmingham or any other region, because we’re a suburb, not the whole region. We have plenty of gay bars, they’re just located in DC. And that’s not even beginning to consider your definitions.

          Meanwhile, a politician who represents Arlington sponsored a bill to study legalization of marijauna recently: http://www.theweedblog.com/virginia-delegate-david-englin-wants-to-research-marijuana-legalization/

          And it’s not like Birmingham is teeming with politicians who want to legalize drugs.


          “People in Arlington believe the solution to every issue – no matter what it is – is more government and higher taxes.”

          That’s false.

          • modsocdem

            Why do I have to be a “progressive” in the spirit of say Salon magazine, on the one hand, or a “statist” on the other? Can I just be a liberal, whose concern is more with socioeconomic results than with legal and cultural issues, but who views the state as a means, not an end? If someone else has already appropriated the word ‘liberal” can I be a moderate social democrat instead?

        • ph7

          Maybe the gay bar difference can be attributed to the fact that Arlington has an inclusive culture and gays do not feel discrimination in Arlington bars, whereas in Birmingham gays bars are necessary because they face discrimination in other bars.

  • Rankin

    Your papers, please.

  • BO

    Can somebody comment about the laws about DUI in Virginia? If they stop you at a DUI checkpoint, do you have to be over the legal limit (0.08) to be cited for DUI?

    • Arlington Chris

      Here’s a flyer from the Virginia DMV.


      For a first time offense, you might be charged if

      – you are over the 0.08% limit, OR
      – if your ability to drive is impaired, regardless of blood alcohol content

      • BO

        How would they know if your driving is impaired? If you crash into the cones at the checkpoint?

        • drax

          If YOU are impaired, they can assume your ability to drive is. If you’re speech is slurred or you can’t balance. etc.

        • Arlington Chris

          Crashing the cones probably is enough to charge you, yes 🙂

        • Joe Hoya

          You’re just going to have to trust their judgment. Cops wouldn’t exaggerate or make things up just to get an arrest, would they?

        • lying in arlington

          Under Doug Scott’s reign of terror….cops in ACPD don’t need to ‘know’ if you are impaired or even have probable cause. Under Scott, officers are free to lie to magistrates, on reports, to the CWA, and even in court. This ‘police dept’ should be investigated by VA Attorney General….and people wonder why they lost their accreditation.

  • A sober driver

    a lawyer’s website says: Police are not permitted to stop every vehicle that passes through a Virginia sobriety checkpoint. Instead, authorities employ a mathematical formula to determine which vehicles will be stopped (such as every 4th vehicle, and so on).
    Another requirement of sobriety checkpoints is that police must strive to minimize the delay time for each vehicle that passes through. Therefore, you will not automatically be asked to step out of your vehicle if you are stopped at a sobriety checkpoint.

    How does that square with ACPD’s announcement?

    • Just the Facts

      Not true. It can be every car, every other car, every 12th car…it just has to be systematic so as to remove from the equation an officer’s discretion in choosing cars to stop.

      From Wright v Commonwealth, declaring properly run vehicle safety checkpoints are constitutional: “The [checkpoint] guidelines were constitutionally sound as they were pre-approved, controlled the checkpoint’s placement, imposed a two-hour time frame on the checkpoint, listed the specific officers assigned to the checkpoint, provided for an on-site supervisor, ordered pre-checkpoint briefing for all patrol officers, and REQUIRED OFFICERS TO STOP EVERY VEHICLE PASSING THROUGH THE CHECKPOINT.” (my emphasis)

      Alert the news media: a lawyer’s website has bad info!

  • jorge

    As someone who has been lucky enough to walk away from being hit by a drunk driver, I welcome sobriety checkpoints. It’s too bad that the penalties for dui are weak in this state, I support mandatory jailing and doubling the sentences for first-time offenders, and much longer sentences for those who weren’t smart enough to learn from their mistakes. If you’re reading this and have had a dui, please kiss my a**.

  • Alex A..

    Wouldn’t it make more sense to do this Saturday after the St Pats Bar Crawl? Think of the lives they’d save…and revenue for Arl.

    • DCBuff

      Exactly. God forbid ACPD turns up nothing on Friday night and then Saturday evening something happens after this pub crawl.

    • dymydarlin

      ACPD’s administration is too stupid to think of such a rational ideas. Looking at D. Scott, M. Dunne, and D. Murray…….its like watching a retarded verison of the 3 Stooges. I’m just shocked at least two of them haven’t already moved to NY so they can get married.

  • Guest

    Driving drunk through Arlington is a right of passage for any graduate of an Arlington County High Schooler.

  • Theguywithahelicopter

    I’ll make sure to fly my helicopter Friday night

  • carrie nation

    Why don’t they do it on Saturday, after the huge bar crawl?

  • rolling my eyes

    taxation without representation
    Pretty much sums up arlington Dems domnation

  • harassment

    Harassment checkpoint is at Columbia Pike and Glebe, for anyone checking this.


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