Rankin points to the recent case that galvanized The Loophole: The People vs. Julio Figueroa. In May, Figueroa poured a beer into a paper cup in his Greenwood Heights home then walked down the block, when he was stopped by three police officers in a cruiser. “It’s not like I was staggering,” Figueroa told the Times. Nevertheless, police wrote him a citation based on their own “smell test” (the same Dadalyzer technology that fathers have been using on their teenagers for centuries) and even searched the trash for a beer can as evidence.
But Figueroa’s ticket was tossed by Brooklyn Judge Noach Dear, who wrote in his opinion, “While the arresting officer’s professional training and sense of smell may be sufficient to support his conclusion that defendant was drinking beer, such does not support the conclusion that the beer contained more than one-half of one percent of alcohol by volume.” Judge Dear also analyzed drinking citations in Brooklyn and found that 85% of them were issued to blacks and Latinos. “As hard as I try, I cannot recall ever arraigning a white defendant for such a violation,” Judge Dear wrote.
So as a check on the NYPD’s policy of relentlessly ticketing a disproportionate amount of black and brown people, the state must either write down the brand or prove that what you’re drinking is alcoholic. Raise your glass of nondescript “liquid” to Mr. Figueroa!