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Former D.C. Mayor Marian Barry Cleared of DUI Charges

Posted on Jan 12, 2009

A District of Columbia Superior Court judge found Marion Barry not guilty June 13 of DUI and three other charges.

"I am not convinced beyond a reasonable doubt for a guilty verdict,” said Judge Richard Ringell regarding the charges against the D.C. Council member after he was stopped and arrested by U.S. Secret Service officers early on the morning of Sept. 10, 2006.

Barry Faced DUI, Three Other Charges

Barry was charged with DUI, operating a motor vehicle while impaired, driving an unregistered vehicle and misuse of temporary tags. Arresting officers said Barry stopped at a green light and later drove through a red light. The officers testified Barry smelled of alcohol, was stumbling, had red eyes and slurred speech. Their testimony that Barry was intoxicated was based on opinion, not the Breathalyzer test that showed only a .02 alcohol level. The legal intoxication level in DC is .08. That test result was a key point in the closing argument of Frederick Cooke, Jr., Barry's attorney.

"I know my balance is off," Barry testified. "Age is one of the things ... to your eyes and balance." He is 71. Barry once served six months in prison after being videotaped smoking crack cocaine in a D.C. hotel during a 1990 Federal Bureau of Investigation sting. At the time, Barry was serving his third term as D.C. mayor.

Former Mayor Was On Five Medications When Arrested

"I had only one glass of wine, and there weren't chemicals in my body," Barry told the court last week. He said he was taking at least five medications for his diabetes, high blood pressure and knee pain. "I don't think I was impaired or under the influence," Barry testified.

Barry said he tries not to drink during his recovery from substance abuse. But on Sept. 10, Barry was having a celebratory drink after learning he won an award from the Congressional Black Caucus. Barry would not name the lawmaker, a woman, who was with him in the car when he was arrested.

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Bob Battle
100% of my practice is devoted to serious traffic defense and criminal litigation in state and federal courts