Secret Service Tickets Barry
Monday, September 11, 2006
D.C. Council member Marion Barry was detained and ticketed by the Secret Service early yesterday, after uniformed officers stopped him near the White House for running a red light and detected the smell of alcohol, authorities said.
Tom Mazur, spokesman for the Secret Service, said Barry's car ran a red light at 16th and H streets NW. The officers administered a field sobriety test and took Barry to the U.S. Capitol Police station, where he was given a breathalyzer test.
Mazur said police could not get an accurate reading on the breathalyzer, so Barry was asked to submit to a urine analysis, which he refused. Barry was then ticketed for running a red light and failing to submit to a urine analysis, the spokesman said.
Barry, in a telephone interview yesterday, said he was not intoxicated and had not run the light. He said he passed the breathalyzer when the test registered a 0.02, far below the legal threshold for intoxication, 0.08. The former four-term mayor accused federal authorities of trying to "embarrass and discredit me."
This is the second time this year that police have questioned Barry's sobriety. In May, he was involved in a minor fender bender, and he passed a breath test, although the police report indicated that he appeared to be impaired.
Barry is on probation stemming from a tax-related conviction, and Frederick D. Cooke, Barry's attorney, said it is unclear whether the latest citation would affect Barry's legal status. Cooke said he could not comment because he did not have enough details.
Barry (D-Ward 8) was sentenced in March to three years' supervised probation after pleading guilty in U.S. District Court to misdemeanor charges of failing to file federal and local income tax returns. He tested positive for marijuana and cocaine use in a court-required screening in November, soon after his guilty plea, and underwent drug treatment and counseling.
The former mayor also was convicted of a misdemeanor count of cocaine possession in 1990 after being arrested in a downtown D.C. hotel.
Barry, 70, said he was released yesterday with a citation. He said he believes he was the victim of racial profiling because all the officers involved in the incident are white.
On Saturday night, Barry attended a Ward 8 rally for mayoral candidate and D.C. Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4), whom Barry has endorsed in tomorrow's Democratic primary.
Barry would not discuss his refusal to submit a urine sample but said it was clear that if he had been drinking, "it wasn't much of anything." He said the breathalyzer test was successful and registered his blood alcohol content at 0.02.
"How is that unsuccessful?" Barry said. "They didn't get their desired results."
Barry said the incident occurred after he saw Secret Service officers gesturing at him as he drove near the White House. He was giving a brief tour to an out-of-state elected official, whom he would not identify, when authorities stopped him.
Barry said he had met with two elected officials in the lobby of a hotel about 12:30 a.m. after one of the officials called him at home to say he could not attend a scheduled breakfast meeting.
Barry agreed to drive one of the officials around town after he mentioned that he had visited Washington on many occasions but had never actually seen the city.
After driving past the John A. Wilson Building and the Washington Monument, Barry said, he was approaching Lafayette Square near the White House. The officers pulled him over, and before he gave them his license and registration, six of them surrounded the Camaro he was driving. He said the vehicle is on loan from a dealership while his car is being repaired.
"I was outraged," Barry said. "They were looking for something to deal with me on. I asked, 'Why?' and they wouldn't tell me."
Barry said he took the field sobriety test and was asked to blow into the breathalyzer twice at the station.
A similar incident occurred in March 2002, when the U.S. Park Police said they found traces of marijuana and cocaine in Barry's car while he was parked in a remote area of Southwest Washington. No arrest was made, but it derailed Barry's plan to run for an at-large D.C. Council seat.
Barry later ran for the Ward 8 seat in 2004 and overwhelmingly defeated former ally Sandy Allen.
In the May incident, Barry was ticketed for failing to yield the right of way after a minor accident on First Street SE. That offense is punishable by a $50 fine.
Both the red light violation and the urine analysis citation are considered administrative offenses and not criminal, meaning they typically would be heard before a Department of Motor Vehicles examiner and not a Superior Court judge.
Staff writers Henri E. Cauvin and Martin Weil contributed to this report.