Mayor Marion Barry proposed a series of tough drunk-driving laws yesterday, including mandatory minimum fines for drunk driving, allowing police to require a driver to take a breath test and permitting arrest without a warrant for driving while intoxicated.
It would be illegal for drivers or passengers to drink alcohol while riding in a car, under a proposed prohibition against carrying open alcoholic beverages in a vehicle.
Barry declined to take a position on a bill introduced in the D.C. City Council to raise the drinking age for beer and wine in the District from 18 to 21.
Virginia and Maryland have raised the drinking age to 21. Officials in those states have complained that the District has become a haven for young people who get drunk and then risk their own lives and others' by driving home.
Barry's proposals include:
* Establishing mandatory minimum fines of $300 for the first offense; $1,000 to $5,000 for a second offense within 15 years, and $2,000 to $10,000 for the third offense. In addition, penalties would include up to 90 days in jail for the first offense and up to a year in prison for a second and third offense.
* Changing the current voluntary status of the breath test.
* Allowing impoundment of a vehicle if a driver is arrested for drunk driving.
* Requiring a person going into a diversion program to pay a fee to cover the cost of his or her arrest and processing.
"These measures will strengthen public awareness of the seriousness of driving while intoxicated and will give police the enforcement tools they need to get drunk drivers off the road," Barry said in a statement.