February 12, 2004

DUI Feel Lucky, Punk?

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The problem: you’ve spent Saturday night boozing your brain out at the bar. You’re feeling pretty shitfaced. But, as 1 a.m. rolls around and patrons start spilling out onto College Ave., you and your buddies are ready to keep partying. But how to get to afterhours at that sketchy fraternity on West Campus? Buses aren’t around and you sure as hell aren’t trekking through the cold.

The solution: order and watch former Tennessee police officer Tim Stone’s controversial video, How to Avoid A DUI: A Casual Drinker’s Guide. This 50-minute video — bordering on the amateurish (Stone’s mother has a cameo) — is sold online (www.howtoavoidadui.com) for $24.95 plus $6 shipping and handling. It’s broken down into eight topics: the law, physiology, avoidance, roadside examination, field sobriety testing, arrest (uh oh), breathalyzer and effects.

Only appropriately, some buddies of mine bought some beers and plopped down on our living room’s couch. This ought to be good.

After a long-winded warning including, “For educational purposes only,” and a disclaimer that information offered in the video was “not legal advice” (no kidding!), we were introduced to Officer Stone, a somewhat stereotypical backyard, beer-swillin’ Southern barbequer. Stone first explained the law to us: drinking makes you drive bad. When you drink and (attempt to) drive, you swerve and could hit objects like cows, road signs or mailboxes. Each of us has a different tolerance to booze, so if you’re an 80-pound female, you’re not going to be drinking the same amount as the 250-pound football player before you’re dancing on the bar.

Then we got to the meat and potatoes. In avoiding getting pulled over, Stone explained that you should keep you car in tip-top shape. Equipment violations will likely draw undue attention to yourself — that broken tail-light really can screw you. If and when you’re pulled over, Stone advises that you should have your documents ready. Don’t fumble around looking for your driver’s license and registration (hint: Stone recommends keeping everything in a clearly marked envelope in your glove compartment). Most importantly, once pulled over, Stone advises that you do not show aggression, be rude, be apologetic or be overly emotional. Basically, act sober. But also keep in mind: every action you now take and every word you speak is being closely monitored by that friendly police officer. So, the less you say, the better.

Say you’re a blabber mouth or aren’t able to hide the mountain of empties in your backseat. It’s time for the roadside examination. You’re not screwed yet, though. Field sobriety tests, Stone explains, monitor your ability to follow instructions and complete a set of tasks. Now chances are likely that you’re under the surveillance of the police cruiser’s convenient dash-mounted camera. But, stay calm. Field sobriety tests include the one-leg stand, the walk-and-turn, and the finger-to-the-nose. For each of these tasks, it’s important that you follow closely the officer’s instructions. As many of us know, it’s hard to stand up — let alone, balance on one leg — when we’re blackout drunk. But these tests are also monitoring your ability to complete two tasks simultaneously. So, while you’re touching your nose, you’ll also be counting backwards. Relax, take a deep breath, try to pull your shit together, and concentrate.

Failed the tests? Bummer. You’re under arrest, buddy. But maintain your composure, don’t go ape-shit. And remember, what you say can and will be used against you. And your trip to the slammer won’t come without its costs: thousands of dollars in fines and legal fees, skyrocketing insurance rates (assuming you’re driving again anytime soon) and possibly suspension from work or school. Shit.

In the end then, maybe waiting for the bus from Collegetown or braving the walk to West Campus isn’t so bad after all. You certainly won’t kill anyone. Or yourself.

Archived article by Marc Zawel