How to Drive Home Drunk

Written by Brian Newman

Okay, let's face it. Drunk drivers are the lepers of the modern day. Yet driving 'over the limit' happens perhaps to us all. We go to a party, we have a beer too many and we drive home.

The trick, of course, is getting home. Hopefully uncaught. Ideally, in one piece.

Drunk driving, however, is the major sin of the decade. The police are out to catch you, the courts are out to punish you, and public disapproval is at a media intensified all time high, but people still do it. And with good reason, too. Some people get completely smashed and then have the balls to drive home.

Now, lets say you had one too many. I'm talking `the ugly girl over there still looks ugly, but I feel somewhat tipsy' type of drunk. How to get home safe should be a real concern. It can be indeed difficult to judge ones 'limit' and even an average good time can make you 'legally drunk. The courts themselves define that limit with different levels of intoxication. In some places a mere .06 reading can get you in trouble, while other places allow you .12. Generally a .08 or a .10 makes you over the legally drunk. If you are ever over the limit, with no cab fare home, and you need to keep your driver's license, the following may just be the advice you need.

Most police forces combat drunk driving in two ways: 1. They rely on the regular officer on patrol pulling over a 'suspicious' car. 2. There are also special programs to set up spot checks, on certain roads, at certain times, to check for drivers who have been drinking. Let's deal with these possibilities one by one.

You are rarely at risk at being pulled over by a regular patrol if you don't do something obvious that the police specifically looking out for. Don't speed, don't weave. Wear your seatbelt. Red lights are for stopping. Stop signs are for stopping. While it would seem that some people have trouble understanding that concept even when completely sober, you should avoid directing any attention to you by not following the rules after you have been drinking.

Also, before you head out for the night to go to the bar, give a quick check to your car. Do not drive a car that has a burnt out headlight, or taillight. Doing so considerably increases the odds of being stopped. It is not worth the risk. A noisy muffler, a cracked windshield, or obvious body damage makes your car stand out, and will increase the odds of that random check. If you have a leaking tire, get air before the visit to the bar, not after. Make sure you have enough gas to get home. Any unnecessary stop could become a problem.

You know those folks you see driving at night with only the parking lights on? That is almost a sure sign of a drunk driver. Police pay extra attention to those cars, just for that very reason. So make double sure, you drive with your lights on! Do not drive with your bright lights on either.

And while letting your 'friends' yell out the window might seem like fun, those flashing lights behind you may be a good party pooper. Avoiding simple mistakes virtually eliminates a random stop by police.

The police also use special roadside stops to catch drunk drivers. Usually these crackdowns are announced well in advance. Watch the local newspapers, and know when they are coming.

At any special holiday season, expect more roadside checks. Both New Year's Eve, and St. Patrick's Day are prime time for extra spot checks. The locations of those spot checks are often easy to figure out. Most towns and cities have areas that are known for having lots of bars, and spot checks are often the major roads leaving just those places. Police often pick a street that had no turn off areas, and they like a location somewhat hidden behind a curve in the road. In talking to friends, one car hear the exact locations of pervious spot checks. Those checks often return to those same spots. Can you avoid streets like that, and get home via a secondary road?

Now, lets say you have been at a bar all night, and as you drive home, you see a road check ahead. You may be contemplating gunning down the block, crashing through the barrier and ending the long enduring car chase in a glorious ball of flame. Relax and realize that is not worth it. You want to go out drinking tomorrow, don't you? Fear not, all is not lost.

As soon as you see the roadblock, tab a stick of gum, and/or a cigarette I was once saved by taking a bite from an apple I had in the car! If going out on the town, why not put a n apple in the car? And have gum ready. The road stop involves a short conversation, with the police officer looking for signs of impairment, and trying to smell booze of off the driver. Open your car window. Put the car's fan on, to move the air. Pull up smoothly to where they want you to stop, and do not panic.

The police often start with an explanation of why they are stopping you. Never argue, always be polite and refer to the nice man in uniform as `Officer'. Being rude only ensures that they will be rude to you. And they have the power to cause you real trouble and inconvenience.

They will often peer into the car, looking to see any open bottles. Never, ever, have open alcohol in the car. Not only does doing so magnify the smell of booze, it gets you an automatic further check, and in most places, an automatic ticket or charge. Should you have prepared with a bite of that apple, or the gum, never swallow that while the cop is talking to you. That is a sign, to him, that you are trying to get rid of something. Drugs, he suspects! You will be asked if you have had anything to drink. The best answer is No. Unless it is more that obvious that you have had been drinking. Often that simple no gets you a polite wave through the road block.

Sometimes, the police ask where you have been coming from. You must have a sensible answer ready. If you say the name of a bar, they automatically assume you have been drinking. If you claim to have just come from work, they will ask you where you work.

Coming from a job that has usual business hours will obviously raise more questions. Saying that you are coming from, or going to, a girlfriend's place is a common and innocent answer. There are times, however, when you have to admit you have been drinking. Especially if you have been followed from a bar's parking lot, or if that spot check is within sight of the bar. Sometimes it is better to answer in half-truths or, if you prefer, half lies. But be prepared, because anyone who admits to have been drinking will receive the immediate question: 'How many have you had?'

Almost everyone who answers that they have indeed been drinking says the exact same thing about the amount: two drinks. The police hear that so much, the no longer believe that. So, saying something different may be to your advantage.

Admitting drinking anything is dangerous, should you have a short explanation to go along with it. You explain your one beer with the statement that your buddy did not show up, so you left the bar. Or, that the place was too expensive, too busy or that you got a call to meet friends elsewhere. Or, you explain your three drinks with the fact that you also had dinner there. If there are well behaved buddies in your car, you can just say that you are the `designated driver' and you're taking your friends home. Any statement of more than three drinks is almost a guarantee of more questions, and of a test of your soberness!

As always, be calm and polite. Do not mention your friends on the police force. Concentrate on answering the questions, and getting through the check point. If you find that difficult, just think of the alternative!

Roadblocks and most random checks happen in, or just past, bar hours. Knowing a nearby coffee shop or twenty four hour restaurant, and stopping there is very much in your favour. The coffee and the food help you sober up, but the time spent might just be what saves you. As such places attract people who have been drinking, they often see disputes of various kinds. Do not get involved. Do not stir up a fuss. Be polite. Leave a tip. Workers there often get low pay, and have been known to report drunks to the police themselves. You do not need that. Keep your car keys out of sight.

Oddly, many people are charged and convicted of 'drunk driving' and they have not actually driven. Laws are often written that having the car running, or even keys in the ignition, can be enough to convict you. Do not warm the car up, or fall asleep in the back seat, with your keys in the ignition. That could cost you the same penalty as the drive home even though you have been very safe.

Now, it should be pointed out that it is never a good idea to be well blitzed, and try and drive home. Especially after reading these ideas meant to save you. However being one beer over the line is an easy thing to do. Acting smart may just save you a lot of time and trouble.