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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Brooklyn Judge throws out drinking in public summons because of no laboratory testing

At least for one judge in Brooklyn, Noach Dear, the police can no longer rely on their training and experience in determining when someone is drinking alcohol in public.  The judge said that a laboratory test would be required in order to determine that a beverage contained more than 0.5% of alcohol per volume as the law requires. Given that the cost to perform a laboratory test would greatly outweigh the $25 fine that's usually associated with this offense, it would cripple police officer's ability to enforce this law.  It seems in my opinion, that was exactly the intent of the judge. It's rare for a judge to issue a written decision in such a seemingly minor case. It's even more odd for the judge to look at the racial application of the law in forming his decision but that's exactly what he did.  Judge Dear had his staff pull the records for a months worth of drinking in public summonses in Brooklyn and found that only 4 percent were issued to white people. While one month isn't exactly a large sample size, consider that there were nearly 125,000 summonses issued in New York City last year, which would likely still mean a lot of summonses in each borough on a monthly basis.  How other judges will treat these summonses in the future remains to be seen but I am more curious if the NYPD will take a look at how this law is enforced given the Judge's findings.

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