Today Mayor Vincent C. Gray, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the Office of Chief Medical Examiner (OCME) announced that the District is scheduled to resume its Breath Alcohol Testing Program this Friday, September 28. When processing an arrest for impaired-driving offenses, a trained MPD operator will administer tests to measure breath alcohol content. Standard field sobriety tests will continue to be conducted at the scene. Urine testing equipment will remain available at all patrol districts.
“Ensuring we are doing everything possible to protect public safety is a priority for this administration, and I am extremely grateful that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration provided a $150,000 grant to help resume the program,” said Mayor Gray. “I am also pleased with the teamwork that has been demonstrated by the MPD, OCME and OAG to ensure that the new software would be compatible with the new legislation.”
OCME will provide oversight of the proper use, maintenance and certification of the evidentiary equipment. MPD decided to suspend its breath alcohol program in 2010 and worked with OCME and OAG to develop state-of-the-art software for Intoximeter instruments. During the development process MPD continued to rely on urine tests, and OAG continued vigorous prosecution of impaired-driving cases.
As of August 1, the District started to get tougher on drivers impaired by alcohol or drugs under the Comprehensive Impaired Driving Act of 2012. The law provides for higher penalties for first-time drunk drivers and more severe mandatory minimum sentences for repeat offenders and drivers with very high breath alcohol scores. It also gets tougher on drivers of commercial vehicles and vehicles for hire and people who drive while impaired with children in the vehicle.
“I want to thank everyone who worked so hard to ensure that we have a world-class program,” said Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier.
Attorney General Irvin B. Nathan said, “We are happy that MPD and OCME have worked so hard with us to restore their breath testing program. It is an important tool in our joint efforts to combat impaired driving and maintain public safety in the District. With the new statute and the new, state-of-the-art equipment, we are now well positioned to combat impaired driving.”