Wednesday, November 23, 2011
THE DUI DIARY: Chapter One
[ONE FINAL NOTE: I’ve decided to not give my lawyers’ full names. I’m not sure if they would view this as good publicity or not, but I want to play it safe. I will only be referring to them by their first names. If I have learned anything over these last few years, it’s not to fuck with people who deal with the court system on a daily basis. If you really, really want to know who they are, and you can’t figure it out from the context, contact me. Contact me if you ever need DUI help at all. I will send you in the direction of my team of bloodthirsty lawyers, and they will help you.]
Even I have to admit that it must have looked bad. There I was, reeking of alcohol, wearing my MODERN DRUNKARD t-shirt and a string of beads with the Dos Equis symbol at the end. Yeah, the police officer probably thought I was ripe for the picking. Maybe he was right.
Let’s rewind a bit, back to Mullen’s in Lisle. It’s a horrid bar where the service is rotten and the drinks are overpriced, but it’s pretty much the only place Fitz goes out to (I can never get him to the Spring Inn, a wonderful bar where the service is golden and the drinks are priced just right). Maybe he likes it because the waitresses are extremely hot. I don’t know. But it is also host (on Friday nights) to Brandon’s DJ company, and Brandon is an awesome guy. If not for him (and, of course, the hot waitresses), Mullen’s would have nothing to offer to the world. [For those of you thinking litigiously, I hereby label this paragraph as a “restaurant review.”]
Before I headed out to Mullen’s, I pre-gamed a little at home, I pre-gamed some more at Fitz’s place, and then I was ready to rip out throats at the bar itself. There were rumors that Sherman of Q101 fame would be there giving out swag and concert tickets, and as it turned out, they were not rumors. There he was, up on stage with Brandon, trying to convince people to get up and sing. He was bribing them with concert tickets, a free pint of Dos Equis, and the Dos Equis beads. I wasn’t interested in any of it, except the free beer. I’m not a Dos Equis guy, but what the hell? A free beer is a free beer.
But I was only interested in my performance. I filled out the slip and handed it to Brandon. Not long later, Sherman was calling my name, and I took to the stage.
I should explain that Mullen’s was pissed off at me for events of the previous weekend. They did not appreciate my duet with a blow-up doll, and they really didn’t appreciate me dancing with her to other people’s songs and ultimately making out with her when enough people had pointed and laughed at me. [Speaking of which, when are you going to get off your ass, Derek? You need to post my performance on YouTube! I know you’re reading this! Do it! Now!] [NOTE: This was written a long time ago. The footage was indeed posted to someone’s Facebook, but not by Derek. THE FOOL!] But the management at Mullen’s were pussies about it. They didn’t say a word to me, they didn’t cut me off, they didn’t 86 me. But they bitched and complained to Brandon after I was gone. Fuckin’ scum. Well, they are essentially Brandon’s paycheck, so I promised not to bring the doll out again, and to also keep it relatively clean.
Which is a shame, because I was planning on bringing my Halloween costume dildo out of retirement, even though it was broken. But, what the hell? I could still be suggestive.
I took the microphone from Sherman, and I proceeded to belt out Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-a-Ling.” Instead of the dildo, I wore two bells on a string, which was tied around my belt. I’d hidden the bells in my pants, so I had to get them out by reaching into my zipper. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Brandon blanch, but when he saw it was merely the bells I was pulling out, he seemed a bit more reassured.
The song was a hit. Everyone loved it, even with me shaking my bells in a rather suggestive manner. I got everyone to sing along with me on the chorus. How often can you get a roomful of people to sing a song no one has thought about for three decades? I’m not in the karaoke business, but I’m willing to bet it’s a rare event.
At the end of the song, I got my beads and the tickets, but most importantly, I got my free beer and took to my seat. How much did I have to drink? It doesn’t matter. I was buzzed, but not drunk. I cheered a lot and was quite loud, so I imagine that onlookers must have thought I was stark raving hammered. I wasn’t that far, but I probably would have been by the end of the evening. The truth is, I would have acted like that even if I was stone sober. It’s just what I do. People are going up on stage to risk their dignity, and I just want to encourage those who are willing to do this.
I went up to the bar to get another drink when the bartender said, “You’re cut off.”
“Because you puked all over my bathroom last week.”
Let me state, for the record, that I have puked twice (maybe three times) because of alcohol. It’s a matter of pride for me. When it comes to booze, I have a strong stomach. I later learned that one of the bouncers claimed that I was puking in their bathroom. Maybe I was in there when some other guy was heaving his guts out, and he made a mistake. Or maybe he was lying to get me kicked out with my brother (who was 86-ed that night for going behind the bar to get his own drink). But the simple fact of the matter is, I did not puke in his bathroom. The worst thing to pass my lips in their men’s room was a horrendous belch.
I told him that I hadn’t puked in his bar, and he said that he knows I did, and I was cut off. No more booze for me. [NOTE: It has since been proven, by people other than me, that this bartender is a scumbag. Shortly after this incident, he was fired because he sexually harassed a co-worker.]
This angered me. I’m perfectly willing to own up to my crazy shit, no matter how embarrassing it might be, WHEN IT IS TRUE. I take great offense at having someone spread vicious lies about me. I went back to my table and explained what the whore-faced, piece of shit, dick-headed, puppy-stomping, douche-bag of a bartender said to me. Fitz suggested I should leave, and I told him that was exactly what I was doing.
I took to the road. I was pissed off, but I was still a responsible driver. Besides, I’m a better driver when I’ve had a few. A lot of people say that, but in my case it’s actually true. When I’m sober, I drive like a maniac. I break all sorts of laws. I’m a speed demon. I cut people off when they’re not going fast enough to suit me. But when I have some booze in me, I am the world’s most careful driver. I go the speed limit. I come to a full stop at all stop signs. I respect the drivers around me. Why? Because I DON’T WANT TO GET CAUGHT.
I was eastbound on Ogden when I crested a hill and saw below me what police officers jokingly call a “safety” check. There was no way out of it. I had to drive into the camp of the enemy. But that was all right. I was in perfect control of myself. I was certain I would be able to pass the field sobriety test, and then I’d be on my way.
The cop smelled the alcohol immediately, and he asked me if I’d had anything to drink. I admitted to having one beer, which I explained that I’d won in a karaoke contest. He nodded and asked me to get out of the car, which I did. I wanted to cooperate and get this over with so I could get home, where I was planning to have a few more drinks while watching a movie.
And then he started conducting the field sobriety test. The klieg lights overhead baked down on me, and as if that wasn’t enough light, they had the high-powered door lights on. I was practically blinded by the starkness of it all. I felt like I was on an episode of THE X-FILES, looking up into the lights of hovering UFO’s.
I know I did well on one test: the one where he moves his finger and asks you to follow it with your eyes. That one was a breeze. I kind of fucked up the alphabet thing. No, I didn’t have to do it backwards. I had to start with E and stop at U. I forgot to stop at U, mostly because I had the alphabet song we all learn in kindergarten going through my head.
The ones I failed worst at were related to my feet. I’m not a very coordinated guy. I have shitty balance. My right foot is angled to the right, and I cannot straighten it, not even to walk. The officer asked me to straighten my foot, keep my arms at my sides, and lift my left foot so it hovers off the ground in front of my right foot.
I have tried doing this 100% sober, and I just can’t do it.
He asked me to walk a straight line with my hands at my sides. Again, I have tried doing this completely sober, and I can’t do it. The heel has to go directly in front of the toes of the other foot, and you have to keep your feet straight. Other people can clearly do this. The officer, who was a young man in tip-top shape, who has probably done this a million times, was able to do this rather well.
But I failed. He asked me if I was sure I’d had only one drink. I told him that I’d won a Dos Equis for singing Chuck Berry (and I explained, at that point, why I was wearing bells on my belt), and that I’d bought one beer after that.
He nodded and told me I was under arrest for driving under the influence. He then turned me around and cuffed me. As he led me to his cruiser, he asked me if I had anything in my car that I shouldn’t, and I thanked my lucky stars that this hadn’t happened the previous week. If it had, I would have had a blow-up sex doll in my back seat, and that would have been very hard to explain. Later, when I got my car back, I discovered they’d gone through everything and left it all strewn about the inside of my car. They didn’t search the trunk, though. If they had, they would have opened the boxes of TABARD INN I have back there.
I had a bit of difficulty getting into the back of the cruiser. Have you ever tried getting into a car with both hands behind your back? Anyway, as soon as I was in, he made like he was going to close the door . . . without fastening my seat belt. It was fine for him if he got into a crash. He had a seat belt on his side, and no doubt an air bag. In the back seat, I’d be fucked.
Yes, in the state of CLICK IT OR TICKET, a police officer was going to neglect my seat belt. I asked him to fasten it for me, and he complied.
Then, we were on our way. He brought me to the Lisle police station, which was a fairly nice place. Better than Elmhurst. When I worked for Elmhurst’s Public Works, I got to see a lot of the police station, and it was a dump.
They asked me to put all my belongings into a plastic container, including my belt. The officer inspected my shoes (and I had to explain the gel insert in the heels) before he gave them back to me. My cuffs came off, and they searched me. After they came up with nothing (and thankfully they neglected to inflict a body cavity search on me), they put me in a cage. I prepared to make myself comfortable.
I asked, “Do you guys have anything I could read to pass the time?” Because there is nothing I hate to do more than sit around and do nothing.
One of the other cops said, “What do you think this is? THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION?”
I sighed. It was going to be a long night.
Actually, I was only locked up for two hours, and the time seemed to pass by pretty quickly. They processed me, and then asked if there was anyone who could pick me up. I said my grandparents could do that, and they let me out to use the phone. After I did this, I asked if I could use the bathroom. The officer pointed it out. Out of habit, I went to close the door behind me, and the officer quickly reminded me of where I was.
There was puke on the toilet. I thought about the bartender at Mullen’s and grimaced.
When I was done, they took my mug shots and fingerprinted me. I expected to get a bunch of ink on my hands, but they’ve made a lot of technological advances in that department over the years. They sprayed my hands and scanned my prints into their computer. I noted how cool that was, and the officer nodded in agreement.
I was led back to the cage where I was Mirandized. I thought it was kind of weird that they hadn’t done that before, but whatever. The officer then told me that he wanted me to take a breathalyzer test. After he said this, he read from a statement, notifying me that if I did not blow, I would have my driver’s license suspended for a minimum of a year.
Think about that for a minute. I can hear some of you saying, “Well, if you have nothing to fear, why not blow?” Perhaps you’re unfamiliar with the definition of blackmail. It’s a scare tactic meant to put the Fear into people who are so drunk they can’t make their own decisions. They hear that they will definitely lose their license, so they decide to roll the dice with the breathalyzer.
Not me. First of all, I was not drunk enough to fall for their Nazi gibberish. Secondly, while I was not drunk, I thought I might blow over .08. Lastly, I had a moral objection to breathalyzers. They do not, and I repeat DO NOT, measure how drunk a person is. They measure a person’s blood alcohol content (BAC). Some people can handle .08 and more (and I am one of those people) while others can’t. No two people process alcohol in the same way. There are too many variables.
So I told the officer, “I can’t do it.”
He asked, “Why not?”
“I have a moral objection.”
He lifted an eyebrow, but he didn’t pursue the issue, which I think is a very good sign. They could have sent me to the hospital to take blood from me, and then I’d really be fucked. And it wasn’t like these cops weren’t willing to play hardball. There were a couple of guys in the next cell. One of them had accepted his fate and had blown a .23. The other, I suspect, was in for cannabis, considering how the cops were yelling at him, trying to scare him into a piss test. They really laid into him. They threatened to slap a catheter on him. When he finally agreed to piss, he went into the bathroom but said he couldn’t go.
“You’re playing games! Stop playing games! Just piss in the cup and get this over with!” And they threatened him with the catheter again.
I never got to find out how that turned out. My grandparents arrived at that point, and the officer started processing me out. I got my stuff back and had to sign a few forms. Hell, I even got my driver’s license back. It was going to be suspended after 46 days, but it isn’t common for DUI cases to get their physical license back; usually they have to drive on a ticket. Another good sign.
Despite how things appeared, it looked like I wasn’t entirely fucked. Why? It wasn’t just because I was cooperating with everything (except the breath test) or even because I was very polite. It may have been a combination of two things: my record and my conduct. I have a spotless record. There were a few youthful indiscretions that have long since been expunged, and while I have done many illegal things over the course of my life, I’ve never been caught at any of them. (And I doubt I’m alone, America. I challenge any of you to tell me that you have never done an illegal thing.) And as for my conduct, not only was I taking everything solidly and without complaint, I was also joking around with the officer a bit, trying to lighten the mood. I was conversational. I complimented him on his station and marveled at his fingerprinting technology. I’m willing to bet that I was the nicest guy he arrested that night, and for that, he wasn’t treating me like a criminal. He was actually a very good guy.
Think I’m giving myself too much credit? I didn’t have to pay a DIME to bail myself out. My grandparents paid nothing. The officer thought I was such a responsible person, he decided to let the State of Illinois bail me out. (This is good. In Illinois, you can bail someone out with only 10% of the full bail money. In my case, I would have had to pay a minimum of $300. I had it, as it was pay-day, but I wouldn’t have enjoyed surrendering it in such a fashion.)
When I was done signing the papers, I asked about my car. He told me it was with the towing company, and I could pick it up tomorrow. He gave me the brochure to the place. Why they towed my car to fucking Carol Stream, I have no idea, but I guess that was the way the dice fell.
“How much will it cost?” I asked.
“A hundred-ten,” he said. “There’ll probably be a storage fee, but they say one-ten.”
He then led me out to the lobby, where I hugged my grandparents and they drove me home. The next day, my grandfather and I drove out to Carol Stream to get my car. Would you care to guess how much it cost? Hint: it was more than $110.
Give up? $195. The other fees were for storage and after hours pick up. Fuck. I paid up and got the hell out of there.
On the way back, I thought about my case. I thought I stood a more than decent chance of getting out of the DUI. They didn’t have concrete evidence against me. Everything else was circumstantial. It looked bad, but it was nothing that couldn’t be explained away. I was confident that I could beat the charges. It was the suspension that I thought I wouldn’t be able to get around.
I needed a lawyer, and I thought about just taking a public defender, as I don’t have a lot of money. Then I started thinking about maybe getting the ACLU involved. I would present this case as a constitutional case, and honestly it is. These roadblocks are in violation of the 4th Amendment, after all. If I could get the ACLU to take an interest, I’d be able to get one of their lawyers for free. There was even the very, very slight possibility that the arresting officer wouldn’t show up for court, and my case would be thrown out. It wasn’t likely, but I wouldn’t entirely count it out, since I’d left such a good impression.
But I wasn’t certain about either of these tactics. I decided to ask Fitz for help. He’d been through something similar, and he would probably be able to give me good advice. I got in contact with him, and he recommended that I call his lawyer, Don.
“Does he like the taste of blood?” I asked.
“Dude, he fucking loves it. And it says on his website that you should never take a breathalyzer, so you’re already down the right path. But it will cost.”
Yeah. But it would be worth it.
I was excited. I knew I was in the right, and I had a good case. I couldn’t wait for my trial. I couldn’t wait to have my enemies’ torn throats in my mouth. Don is one of the best DUI lawyers in the state, according to several newspapers. I was confident that not only would he get me out of the DUI, but he would also get my suspension down to three months instead of twelve.
I had to remind myself that I shouldn’t let myself get too far ahead; I should at least contact the lawyer first. [As an aside, if you ever get into trouble with a DUI, call 1-800-DIAL-DUI. They’ll put you in touch with a lawyer who specializes in DUI anywhere in the country.] I gave him a call and set my free consultation . . . .
TO BE CONTINUED ON MONDAY!