Everton v. District of Columbia

993 A.2d 595 (2010)

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Everton v. District of Columbia

District of Columbia Court of Appeals
993 A.2d 595 (2010)

RW

Facts

The District of Columbia (plaintiff) prosecuted Baker N. Everton (defendant) for violating a 1925 statute enacted to protect public safety by regulating traffic. The statute read in part: "no person shall operate or be in physical control of any vehicle... while under the influence of" any intoxicant. The statute defined “vehicle” as "any appliance moved over a highway on wheels or traction tread, including street cars, draft animals, and beasts of burden." Other District of Columbia statutes were more narrowly worded so as to apply exclusively to motor vehicles. The trial evidence established that Everton rode his bicycle on a busy public street while under the influence of alcohol, and almost hit a small child in the street's crosswalk. Everton lost control of the bicycle and fell into the street. The trial court convicted Everton and he appealed to the District of Columbia Court of Appeals, contending that the statute did not apply to bicycles. Everton argued that the court should not give the statute a broad interpretation because, if read literally, the statute would have the absurd result of prohibiting an inebriated pedestrian from holding onto or walking next to his bicycle.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Ruiz, J.)

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