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7/16/2007
DC Sunday School Teacher Ticketed for Driving with Open Container of Coffee
Sunday school teacher in Washington, DC wins battle against a traffic ticket for driving with coffee.

O Street
A Sunday school teacher in Washington, DC was acquitted last month of driving with a cup of coffee. DC motorist Emily Miller had faced a $100 fine for violating the so-called "Distracted Driver Safety Act (Coffee Cup)" while on her way to church to instruct five-year-olds on Sunday, March 18.

At 9:55am that day, DC Metropolitan Police Officer Victor Haskins witnessed Miller stop her car at the intersection of Wisconsin Avenue and O Street in Georgetown while allowing someone in front of her to turn. Looking more closely into her sedan, Haskins noticed the blonde teacher held a Venti Drip full caff in one hand and the steering wheel in the other. The policeman waited until Miller executed a turn before hitting the lights and pulling her over.

"I said to the officer, 'Sir, I haven't done anything wrong,'" Miller explained in an interview with TheNewspaper. "He just repeated, 'License and registration, ma'am.'"

Miller wasn't about to just pay the fine, so she prepared a legal defense and contested the ticket on June 22. Under examination before DC Hearing Officer Pamela B. Washington, Haskins admitted that the Sunday school teacher had obeyed all traffic laws and maintained complete control of her car. The officer insisted, however, that because Miller's arms were "really stretched out" that it was a violation. Washington, herself sipping coffee, was not convinced. She dismissed the case, ruling that it is not illegal to drive with a coffee cup if the person has not committed another violation. Miller was relieved by the decision.

"It was a great victory," Miller said. "That officer had no soul."

Source: PDF File Notice of Infraction and Hearing Record (District of Columbia Adjudication Services, 6/22/2007)

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