Don't get a buzz on in Fairfax County!

According to an article in this morning’s Washington Post, police here in Fairfax County raided bars and arrested patrons who were minding their own business.

The police claimed that the raids were an attempt to prevent drunk driving, and to be fair, four of the men arrested were on their way to their cars. But the remainder were arrested for nothing more than being buzzed in a bar, which is the whole freaking purpose of going to a bar in the first place!

Oh crap…and I thought the smoking in bars ban movement here was bad news.

Dumb Legal Question: After they spent the night in jail, did they still have to go to court or anything? Do they have a record now?

What does the appicalble public drunkenness statute actually specifiy? Did it authorize the use of the standard Highway Patrol Field Sobriety Test? To me, it would seem that there would be a different, higher standard for operating a motor vehicle than there would be for just being in public.

err… Aren’t bars private property? If one can be arrested for “public drunkenness” (is that the way it’s officially filed, I wonder?) in a bar, why not from your back porch on Labor Day?

In Virginia, the applicable law is § 18.2-388, which provides in full:

Now, in the case of motor vehicle operation, the law imposes a presumption of intoxication at a BAC of .08. But a person may be convicted of DUI without a specific BAC; other evidence may be used to show intoxication.

Under § 18.2-388, there is no presumption – that is, no specific BAC that constitutes “intoxicated” for the purposes of guilt. It would be up to the finder of fact to determine, by considering all the evidence, if the accused was intoxicated within the meaning of the law.

Revtim: the “night in jail” - or night in the drunk tank - does not erase the charge; the law permits the officer to arrest and process, or to place the accused in a detoxification center in lieu of arrest, but the charge must still be answered. In Virginia, the penalty for a Class 4 misdemeanor, which this is, is a $250 fine. The “night in jail” is likely a result of either the detoxification center stay, or, if arrested, the normal time frame between a night arrest and a bail hearing before a magistrate the next morning. For a Class 4 misdemeanor, the magistrate will usually approve an unsecured bond release.

  • Rick

I just read the article too and it doesn’t seem exactly clear on why they were arrested. I’m wondering if the people arrested were arrested because they were acting disorderly at the bar. At least one of the arrestee’s was questioned because their was a disturbance at the bar she was at and she matched the physical description of the perpetrator.

Public, in these cases, means “open to the public” - while they are private property, the general public are invitees. By the same token, you can be arrested for DUI in a supermarket parking lot. Even though it’s private property, it’s an area open to the public.

  • Rick

But in the part I excerpted, the article stated that the ABC and the police sent 20 undercover agents looking for bartenders overserving patrons-in other words, they are trolling the bars for people over the limit.

The part of the statute I noticed was:

Need I say more?

Apparently, they carried out these enforcement actions in a kind, gentle manner ( :rolleyes: ). The following, from The Reston Times:

The manager of another bar said:

I can only conclude that all serious crime in Fairfax County has been eliminated, so the police are left with this nonsense.

(BTW, for those of you not familiar with this area, this part of the county could be characterized as upper-middle-class suburbia. We’re not talking about sleazy dives, where people end up knifing each other in the parking lots after a night of boilermakers.)

Well, to be fair, ABC really doesn’t have much else to do…

Yes, that does appear to be the case, the thing that I noticed is the reporter says “ultimately”, as though it might not be strictly related to the undercover agents.
But then again I’m super-paranoid about reporters anyway (I was a Communication Major), so I am probably deluded.:smiley:

I was in Ned Devine’s (one of the bars targeted) on Friday and asked a waitress about it- she said that they were mostly targeting the “sloppy drunks” (and trust me, Ned Devine’s has plenty o’ those) but did hassle some other patrons. She didn’t seem to mind them hassling the sloppy drunks (I’m guessing they get so blotto they forget to tip) but seemed pretty pissed about the police intrusion

But … of course nobody is allowed to get drunk in Reston! Reston is a Special Place. A Family-Friendly Place, where everybody is happy and nice and paints their house only in pre-approved colors, and nobody is ever allowed to die because there are no cemeteries or funeral homes in town. Death, you see, is Unattractive. Drunkenness is also Unattractive, and the entire purpose of the Reston Association is to fight Unattractiveness. (As a side note, clotheslines are also banned despite their environmental benefits, and bullying in the schools is generally assumed to be the victim’s fault.)

Grew up there. Moved away as soon as I could afford it. Will never live there again.

Under Virginia law, a restaurant or bar is a public place, and public intoxication is a low-level misdemeanor punishable by a night in jail and up to a $250 fine.[/q]

Does this really say going to a bar and getting drunk is against the law? Isn’t that partly what bars are for? Do I misunderstand ‘intoxicated’?

We are always grateful for small favors. :wink:

We lived in Reston when we first moved out here 6 years ago. Then we moved to City of Fairfax, and now we’re in Centreville.

All of which is Fairfax County.

Fortunately for us, we don’t go to bars.

I feel so embarassed just for living here, after reading that :X

There’s a difference?

What, no Scream fans in the house?

Uncle Sam wants YOU
The Army…
The Navy…
The Air Force…
The Marines…
The Argentine Navy…
The Fairfax County Police!

(You can hear the first half of this line by previewing “Your Wars/Killer” here)

Come to think of it, it’s the twentieth anniversary of that fine album. I may get older, but the Fairfax County Police remain assholes.