The District of Columbia is unique for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that there are dozens of police departments whose officers regularly patrol the city. Between the Metropolitan Police Department, the United States Secret Service, the Metro Transit Police, the United States Park Police, the Capitol Police, the myriad university police forces and more, D.C. residents can practically be pulled over or arrested anywhere by any force at any time. That being said, it is always helpful to have an understanding of the different federal and local police forces which have jurisdiction in Washington, D.C. and to know their jurisdictions. Here is an overview of some of the most prevalent police forces in D.C. who can pull you over and potential arrest you for a DC DUI or DWI:
1. District of Columbia’s Metropolitan Police Department (MPD)
The Metropolitan Police, or MPD, is the local police force for the District of Columbia, and its jurisdiction covers the entirety of the District. MPD operates like any other city police department and serves the city as its local police force. MPD is probably the most common agency to make arrests for DUI’s in DC and many of the MPD officers are certified to administer the standardized field sobriety tests and operate breathalyzer machines.
2. United States Secret Service (USSS)
It is no surprise that there is an abundance of Secret Service agents in Washington, D.C. considering its status as the nation’s capital and the home of the White House. What may be surprising, however, is the fact that the Secret Service has jurisdiction over more than the immediate surroundings of the president and his family. As a federal agency, the Secret Service is allowed to investigate both threats against any people under its protection and also financial crimes. Secret Service agents also have the power to arrest civilians who are committing or are reasonably believed to have committed federal crimes. While its less likely Secret Service police would arrest you for DUI, they do have the power to make traffic stops. If a Secret Service police officer pulled someone over and believed them to be intoxicated, they’d likely call in an MPD officer to do the SFST’s and possibly make the arrest.
3. Metro Transit Police Department (MTPD)
The MTPD is also a local police department which operates specifically on behalf of the Washington Metro stations and its users. MTPD police offers boast a tri-state jurisdiction (Maryland, Virginia and D.C.) to reflect the 1,500 mile “transit zone” which the Metro covers. MTPD officers also have the power to arrest citizens who are breaking laws “in or against Transit Authority facilities.” Because MTPD’s jurisdiction in the metro system, its unlikely for them to make a DC DUI arrest.
The U.S. Park Police serves all of the United States’ National Park Service areas, including those outside of D.C. There are several subdivisions within the Park Police force, but as a whole, the jurisdiction of this federal police branch extends to any of the designated National Park land. In D.C., this land includes the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park, the George Washington Memorial Parkway (Arlington Cemetery area), the National Capital Parks—East (Greenbelt area), the National Mall and Memorial Parks, the Potomac Heritage National Scenic Trail, the President’s Park (White House area), and Rock Creek Park. The Park Police make a significant amount of arrests for DUI. They have many officers certified to administer the SFST’s and operate a breathalyzer machine at their DC station.
This specialized police force is also a federal branch, designated to the protection of Congress, including its buildings, parks, streets, members, and its members’ families. Capitol Police has concurrent jurisdiction with MPD and the U.S. Park Police, meaning that it shares those jurisdictions. Because of this, you can be criminally charged by Capitol Police even if you’re nowhere near the Capitol itself. Capitol Police also make many DC DUI arrests, have officers who NHTSA has certified to administer the SFST’s, and operate a breathalyzer machine.
6. University Police
With seven universities existing in and around the D.C. Metropolitan area, there is no lack of university police officers who can also make arrests. University police forces include those of:
• American University Police Department
• Catholic University Department of Public Safety
• Gallaudet University Department of Public Safety
• George Washington University Police Department
• Georgetown University Police Department
• Howard University Campus Police
• University of the District of Columbia Police Department
In most cases for a potential DUI arrest, University Police would likely radio in an MPD officer to investigate the DUI and potentially make the arrest. Finally, this list is not exhaustive as additional federal and local law enforcement agencies have jurisdiction in DC.
If you find yourself facing criminal charges from any of these police departments or arrested or charged with DUI or any other criminal offense, contact Scrofano Law PC today for a full case evaluation.