Under the limit, under arrest

A recent story from my area illustrates the importance of keeping your record clean.

A driver had a green light when a pedestrian walked in front of him. He wasn’t “legally drunk,” much less drunk drunk, and now he’s facing prison and permanent loss of license for DUI homicide.

His mistake was having a prior conviction for DUI. Once police saw that they were looking for an excuse to give him a second. Police here have to arrest a driver before they can demand a breathalyzer test. If the test comes back “sober” they don’t have to drop the charges. Laws limiting plea bargaining DUI make it hard to drop charges no matter what the evidence says. D.C. authorities used to continue prosecuting even if the test came back 0.0%.

A few years ago a police officer pulled me over on Route 128 and opened with “the left lane is for passing!” I answered, truthfully, that I was passing and he saw me passing. He went back to his car, saw I had a clean record, and let me go.

I think he misremembered his script and I threw him off. He was probably supposed to be reciting NHTSA’s “it’s a passing lane, not a fast lane” nonsense, and forgot the second part.

But the deciding factor was my good record. And maybe an innocuous black sedan not being driven by a kid who obviously disrespects authority because they all do at that age.

I know somebody who got a ticket for driving slower on the same road. The license plate check came back with a long history indicating a serial speeder owned the car. So the officer picked that one car out of the flow of traffic and added one more ticket on the pile.

The best way to avoid a second ticket is to avoid the first.

The opinions expressed in belong to the author and do not necessarily represent those of the National Motorists Association or the NMA Foundation. This content is for informational purposes and is not intended as legal advice. No representations are made regarding the accuracy of this post or the included links.

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