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The Revival of Prohibition in America

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Fairfax County Police in Virginia are showing up at bars, taking patrons outside, and giving them sobriety tests. If they fail, they <a href="http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?newsid=6551084&BRD=1898&PAG=461&dept_id=126522&rfi=6">are arrested on charges of public drunkenness.</a> That's right, you could just be sitting in a bar, minding your own business, not driving a car, and not even intending to drive a car, and you can still be arrested

    Richie Prisco was the general manager on duty at Champps in Reston's Plaza America on Sunset Hills Road on Thursday, Dec. 19, when he said police came into the bar and started taking patrons outside.
    "They were talking to one of the guests, then physically pulled him off the barstool," Prisco said. "They were really aggressive and nasty."

    Many states have a .08 limit now, and <a href="http://www.drugs.indiana.edu/druginfo/statebac.html">yours could be one of them. </a>

    Is the goal to prevent drunk driving or to prevent drinking in general?

    It sure looks like the latter to me. I thought Bloomberg was crazy, but Virginia takes the cake.
  2. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    Banning smoking can be justified with some kind of logic, although many people won't agree with that logic. Drinking however, I see no justification for doing this and see it as a waste of resources...
  3. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    If you said a source of revenue rather than a waste of resources, you'd probably be closer to the truth.
  4. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    Doh! I thought they just imprisoned them, never thought about the nice money they can make in bail and fines...
  5. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    I don't think it's enforceable, myself. I think the practice will be slaughtered on appeals.

    In any case, on its face, it's not an indication of good law enforcement. Certainly we haven't all the history behind this story; perhaps a few dozen citizen complaints of illegal activity required some action. It's been my experience when issues like this pop up, there's always another side of the story, and a few details conveniently omitted. So my suggestion is that we let the courts do their job and not rush to judgement ourselves.
  6. John

    John Registered User

    Well this is just a case of corrupt cops. Drinking inside a bar which is privately owned is not illegal. That's like taking a drunk person and putting them at the wheel of a car so you can arrest them. And I agree with cop, there may also be more sides to this story.
  7. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    Corrupt cops? No way. Enforcing an unpopular ordinance-yes. As Copzilla says, let the courts do the job of sorting it out and let the police and politicians that ordered the cops to carry out the raids face the consequences if its decided they erred.
  8. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Well, case law holds a bar to be a public place, and consequently subject to public intoxication laws. This much is true. Test it... Go get stupid drunk and see if you can't get arrested inside a club. You most certainly can.

    To call a police department that enforces it with a heavy hand "corrupt" is a bit over the top. To say you believed it "imprudent" would probably be accurate.

    Rushing to judgement would also be imprudent.

    After all, they still have the option of jury by peers. That would be regular folks like any of us deciding if the police were imprudent, and deciding with their verdicts. God bless our judicial system. It's not perfect, but dang, there's always the jury of our peers...
  9. John

    John Registered User

    So I am assuming that the fact that they brought him outside made no difference? Would they be able to come into a bar and give breathalizer tests and arrest accordingly? I was assuming a corrupt act was committed when they physically pulled him outside the bar in order to make him guilty of a violation. If it makes no difference, then "corrupt cops" is not the case.

    And again I am going by the side of the story that was posted here for the sake of debate, if there is indeed another side of the story then so be it, we are not the final word anyway.
  10. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Breathalyzer test is not required for P.I. Taking someone outside would be to just get them into the cop's best setting for interview. Taking him outside would not subject him to any other "public place" standard. It's the same as inside.

    Oh, and I understood completely that this was debate, no nefarious methods were noted or intended on my part. I'm just offering what the legalities are from a practitioner standpoint.

    Remember, in all the inevitable injustices that occur to the populace, we have this one fallback - jury of our peers. Ordinary people like you, me, Aria and her whip (;)), deciding whether someone deserves the charge. The cop is just the conduit to that setting, the messenger.
  11. MisManager

    MisManager Runs With Scissors

    It's not enforceable, actually. Virginia's statutes on this are unique among American states: rather than prohibiting "drunk and disorderly" conduct they prohibit "drunk" conduct. Also, by statute, bars are considered public places.

    However, here's the problem: the 5th Amendment gives you protection against self-incrimination. When you apply for a driver's license, you sign away that right for the purposes of determining your level of impairment <b><i>while you are driving</i></b>. That's the key here. The police cannot force you to incriminate yourself by submitting to a breathalyzer test unless you are driving a vehicle. Sitting in a bar, you can refuse the test.

    Of course, doing this would probably get you sent to jail, and you'd have to wait for your court date to make your point. However, it's pretty iron-clad here, and the charges would ultimately be dismissed.

    Given that I live in Reston, VA, and Jimmy's Bar is 3 miles away, I might have to pop in for a drink. :)

  12. Violet1966

    Violet1966 Stand and Deliver Staff Member

    I wonder if the reason they do this, is because the bars there are extra crazy and people are known to always get drunk and then drive. Maybe they're trying to prevent people from doing it anymore because nothing else is working.

    I know up here, drunk driving is such a common and serious situation. There's some bars which just draw in the drunk driver, habitual type of crowd and it might not hurt to have the cops there trying to keep these people from ruining their lives before they drive. I'd rather have a public drunkeness ticket myself, then have the dwi ticket if caught later on.

    I don't have a drinking problem though so I can't really comment on what it must be like to be able to sit in a bar and drink till over the legal limit, then wait it out till you're under the limit then drive.

    If I was with a designated driver or had walked to the bar, I'd be really po'd though. who the hell are they to tell me that if I wasn't driving, I can't get shite faced? ;)
  13. MisManager

    MisManager Runs With Scissors

    Not particularly. Fairfax County is dominated by government employees. It's a workaholic place, for the most part, and pretty quiet for a county of its size.

    Most of us here are trying to figure out what got this started. Rumors abound, but there are few facts. The police aren't saying anything other than that they're arresting people who are legally drunk. They haven't commented on why they're doing this.

    Perhaps that's what is happening here, though I don't know. At issue here is the methodology more than the enforcement. If the police want to wait outside the bar and test people as they get into their cars, fine. But entering the bar and selecting people for breathalyzer and coordination examinations strikes me (and most other folks here) as beyond what is appropriate.

    That's been mentioned as well. Several groups have predicted that this will harm the who 'designated driver' movement - what's the point if they're going to arrest you inside the bar? Why bother with a driver? Why not just everyone get plastered?

  14. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I suspect that there is much more to this story that is being conveniently left out. I think we should wait until more details are released before rushing to judgment. With the information that has been released so far, it certainly does seem like a very extreme measure by law enforcement. It's so extreme that there MUST be more to this story. If there isn't, people will demand that they stop doing this.
  15. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    The insurance companies up here in Vt actually encourage drinking and driving. How so?

    A couple of friends of mine own a bar outside of town, to far to walk to town. They wanted to start a shuttle survice so people don't have to drive home. Their insurance won't let them. They are forbidden to even drive customers home. They are not allowed to even call for a taxi for a drunk customer. A designated driver program? Nope. And it's not just this bar, it's all of them in this area. I guess the insurance companies need more fatalities from DWI.
  16. MisManager

    MisManager Runs With Scissors

    Here's the story:

    For what it's worth, people have been demanding that it stop. For now, it has, with the authorities saying that they will "evaluate" the program before continuing. Around these parts, that tends to translate into "whoops!".

  17. Copzilla

    Copzilla dangerous animal Staff Member

    Sitting in the bar, they won't even offer you a breath test. Again, as I stated before, it's not required for the offense of Public Intoxication. So I don't understand why people keep alluding to it.

    It's necessary for people to understand the distinction between the two offenses of PI and DWI. These people were not charged with DWI. The offense of PI may well be applied inside a bar... without a breath test.

    The offense which is, BTW, a Class C misdemeanor - same as having a tailight out - not a life altering event.

    MY GUESS, again, is that this was a problem establishment for an extended period of time, and the law finally decided to take a more heavy handed approach. When that happened, the crocodile tears started flowing. Let us permit the judicial system to handle the case, and not automatically assume the system has failed.
  18. Sam

    Sam Cute and cuddly!

    I don't know about other states but here in Texas there are very strict alcohol related laws, and TABC is cracking down hard on bars and their customers. Trying to cut down on alcohol related deaths that are very high right now.

    1. Due to case law a PI is not a ticket. The officer has to arrest or not file charges at all.
    2. A bar, the owner, bartender, waitress or who ever is not, by law, allowed to serve someone who is known to be any of the following: intoxicated, insane, or an habitual drunkard.
    3. There is no breath, blood, or urine test to prove PI. The law does not put a BAC on PI it states:
    A person commits an offense if the person appears in a public place while intoxicated to the degree that the person may endanger the person or another.

    Yes a bar is a public place. Even if it is considered a private club. Furthermore the owners and employees of the bars are well informed of these law and of the hefty fines and jail time if they break them.

    I am not just speaking from one side of the fence here. I was a bartender for ten years before I became a cop. I tried to ensure my customers knew the consequences of their own actions!

    As an officer I promise you if I arrest someone for PI, I was not responsible for getting them drunk in the first place.

    People say: " That damn cop arrested me for PI. "
    What they should say is: " I got drunk in public and was arrested for PI. "

    In other words, stand up be a man and take responsibility for your own actions.

    Sorry if I pissed anybody off. I am rather passionate about the subject of people blaming the cop who caught them screwing up, for them screwing up in the first place.:mad:
  19. Steve

    Steve Is that it, then?

    Sorry, Sam and Copzilla, I think you're both way off-base, here. I understand where you're coming from, but I think these police were wrong.

    Police cannot randomly detain people. They need a probable cause. Sitting in a bar, having a drink, is not probable cause.

    Loud, slurred speech.....swaying or staggering.....belligerence....those are good probable causes.

    Sitting at a table eating a meal and having a drink with the meal is NOT probable cause. Sitting quietly at the bar, watching TV or talking with a friend is NOT probable cause.

    The fact that they coerced some individuals into taking a Breathalyzer test indicates to me that they had no other proof or probable cause to suspect PI because, as you've pointed out, the standard for PI is much lower than DWI/DUI and a breathalyzer test isn't needed. So why give one?

    Frankly, I see an expensive civil rights lawsuit coming up soon.
  20. Sam

    Sam Cute and cuddly!

    There could be any number of reasons for that.
    The laws could be and likely are different where that happened.
    Department policy.
    City ordinance.
    Who knows.

    And who is to say they did not have probable cause prior to taking them outside and they wanted the breath test to confirm their suspicions and make a stronger case for the prosecution?

    The accused never give the whole story. They only give the parts that make them sound like a victim instead of a violator.

    And most departments have strict policies in place that will not allow an officer to talk to the press or public to get the other side of the incident out. That is what court is for. But in the interim the cops just look heavy handed cause the public doesn't know what really happened.

    It can be rather frustrating for the Police but it helps ensure the accused get a fair trial.

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