By Henri E. Cauvin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
D.C. Council member Marion Barry pleaded not guilty yesterday to charges that he was driving under the influence in September when he was stopped by police near the White House.
Appearing in D.C. Superior Court for the first time since the incident, Barry (D-Ward 8) stood next to his attorney, Frederick D. Cooke Jr., as Cooke entered Barry's not guilty plea to four charges. In addition to the DUI offense, the D.C. attorney general's office charged Barry with operating a motor vehicle while impaired, driving an unregistered vehicle and misuse of temporary tags.
The former mayor, 70, was stopped by uniformed Secret Service officers in the early hours of Sept. 10 after he allegedly ran a red light at 16th and H streets NW.
Officers said they smelled alcohol, and after conducting a sobriety test at the scene, they took Barry to a Capitol Police station where he was given a breathalyzer test. In an interview after his arrest, Barry said that he had registered .02, below the .08 legal threshold for intoxication. Yesterday, outside the courthouse, he said once again that he had registered a .02.
But police said they could not get an accurate reading with the breathalyzer equipment and ordered Barry to provide a urine sample for testing. Barry refused.
Cooke said that prosecutors had made a plea offer and that he hoped the case will be resolved without a trial. "Hopefully, we'll be able to work something out," he said outside the courthouse. Cooke said Barry is also contesting a red-light citation with the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles.
Magistrate Judge Michael J. McCarthy set a follow-up hearing for Jan. 8.
The traffic stop was the second time this year that police checked Barry for signs of driving under the influence and was the latest in a series of run-ins in the past year with authorities.
In May, Barry was given a breathalyzer test after he was involved in a fender-bender. He passed the test, but police said in their report that he appeared to be impaired. He was cited for failing to yield the right of way.
Last fall, Barry pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to failing to file local and federal income taxes. While awaiting sentencing, Barry tested positive for marijuana and cocaine use. In March, the judge sentenced Barry to three years of probation on the tax charges.