News & Politics

There’s Such a Thing as Being Too Drunk to Ride Metro

Metro says that if you’re so drunk you can’t stand up, don’t bother trying to get on a train.

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has a New Year’s message for people who might be depending on it for a ride home tonight: don’t drink (too much) and ride.

Public transit is, of course, an excellent option for anyone who needs to get home after a night of boozing, and preferable by far than driving. But it’s not without its risks. As a pre-holiday warning, Via NBC4, Metro released video yesterday of heavily inebriated customers stumbling down escalators, tipping over parapet walls, and falling onto the tracks. Such incidents are uncommon—six people have taken a drunken spill since November—but always alarming.

The most recent incident happened early Sunday morning when a man on a platform at L’Enfant Plaza who was trying to prop himself up between a trash can and a wall spilled backward onto metal grates. The man, who was hospitalized, had a blood-alcohol content level three times the legal limit to drive, Metro spokesman Philip Stewart tells Washingtonian.

In a Christmas Day incident, also at L’Enfant Plaza, an intoxicated man tumbled over an upper-platform railing and sustained severe head and neck injuries from his fall to the lower platform. In another moment captured by Metro’s security cameras, a woman walks up to the edge of the platform and drops right onto the tracks.

Stewart says Metro has recorded at least two-alcohol related deaths in 2013, including a man who was found dead on the tracks at the Judiciary Square station in October and a George Mason University student who was struck by an Orange Line train while walking along the tracks. None of the incidents shown in the newly released video were fatal.

“This is about riding responsibly,” Stewart says.

There are, however, plenty of options for New Year’s revelers who overdo it and probably shouldn’t attempt to navigate their way down a long—possibly out-of-service—escalator and toward electrified rail tracks. Besides hailing cabs, there are services like Uber (though with “surge pricing”) and the SoberRide program, which is offering $30 of free cab fare to anyone who calls 800-200-8294 between 10 PM and 6 AM.

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.