In a move meant to curb the use of expletives in public areas, Arlington County announced its decision to come down tough on “f” bombers, who do not think twice before using profanity in public. The lapse could be habitual or circumstantial, but throw a cuss word around in Arlington County and you will be charged with a misdemeanor.
No, they won’t be marching you to the state penitentiary for your verbal indiscretions, but expect to pay a massive fine of $250 for your misdoings. The rule is not new. Arlington County was already fining people $100 for the use of profanity in public. They just decided to bump up the fine to deter individuals from going overboard with adult lingo outside their homes.
In fact, the ruling not only applies to the use of profanity but also public intoxication. So, a person found to be intoxicated in a public place will also be slapped with a Class 4 misdemeanor, whether the impaired state is brought on by the use of alcohol, drugs or any other type of intoxicant. While the new fine increase gives Arlington County the distinction of taking the toughest stand on the matter, similar laws have been enacted in other places across the country as well.
The authorities of Arlington County have defended the change by saying that the hike in fine was in response to the 660 plus arrests which were made in 2014 for public intoxication and profanity. However, many are crying foul saying that such restrictive laws were steeped in a history of racism and may still have racist overtones.
The fact that 28% of those arrested for disorderly conduct were African Americans while they only make up for 8.9% of the population does show that those against the ruling do have a point. Nobody is going to push those who are unable to pay the fine into chattel slavery. However, in Virginia, misdemeanor arrest are no laughing matter as the defendant’s driving license can be suspended if he cannot pay the fine imposed on him.