Bottled Water Arrest Criticized

When the state’s Alcoholic Beverage Control Division goes out to interdict those attempting to purchase alcohol who shouldn’t, they often do not wear uniforms. Uniformed officers would tip off those under 21 trying to purchase alcohol. But a recent incident involving University of Virginia student, 20-year-old Elizabeth Daly, points out how the method can go wrong.

According to The Daily Caller, Ms. Daly and her friends were “swarmed” by a half dozen, plainclothed policemen after they left a supermarket. Daly was carrying what appeared to officers to be a 12-pack of beer. It wasn’t. Instead, it was a carton of bottled water.

The incident escalated when the three girls got in their car and police attempted to get them out. According to Daly, she didn’t recognize they were police at all and pulled the car out of the lot, only then calling 911 to report the incident. Outside of the parking lot, Daly was pulled over by a marked police cruiser, and she complied with uniformed officers.

Daly was arrested on charges of eluding police and assaulting a law enforcement officer (one was brushed by the car as she pulled out). Daly was jailed, but this week, all charges against her were dropped.

Agents from ABC have been trying to stem the flow of alcohol onto the UV campus and will stake out a location suspected of selling to underage customers. These operations are often conducted at night under poor lighting conditions. With charges dropped, it appears the matter will fall under the category of “unintended consequences.” Perhaps officers will alter their methods, making an interdiction before suspects get into their cars, or perhaps they will purchase equipment which will allow them to distinguish bottled water from beer.

There have been no reports of a lawsuit for false arrest, and Ms. Daly apologized for the her part in the incident.

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