Don’t be an idiot!
There we stood in an empty field next to a church, the with half a bottle of Tanqueray in our stomachs. It was this past Memorial Day and my friend Chris, his girlfriend at the time Rachel, and I decided that we should celebrate America and honor her troops past and present with a bottle of gin and a session of streaking. We felt as though we were on top of the world (when in reality we were only on top of York) looking down at our fair hometown with a sense of exaggerated glory. Eventually the time came to put on some clothes and move the celebration to Rachel’s house. We stumbled into my car and headed back ignoring the simple reality that not one of us, more importantly me the driver, was the least bit sober.
I pulled onto the block where Rachel’s house took address and the feeling of “home free” began kicking in. That feeling however, was quickly replaced by fear and angst when the treacherous lights of the police began flashing right behind us. We hurried to put our remaining clothes back on as we were still partially nude, a clear red flag. I only managed to get my shorts back on by the time the officer made it to my window while Rachel, riding shotgun, only had on a shirt that could have easily been mistaken as a bib or napkin.
His first question was the one I feared most: “Have you been drinking tonight?” I told him no even though I was certain he knew. After a brief discussion about where we were and what we were doing he walked backed to his police car to process our IDs. A few short minutes later a second squad car showed up at the scene with a third one appearing shortly after from what seemed out of nowhere. I began looking for my cigarettes and was immediately questioned about what I was doing for fear that I was looking for a weapon, even though I’m certain you would need to have a Bond-like accuracy with a gun or a death wish to pull a weapon on 3 cops.
I had never actually seen a breathalyzer in real life before this night. I would have liked to keep it that way, but on this night I forgot to bring my luck with me. All I could do was hope that the breathalyzer would somehow malfunction in my favor and report nothing but zeros in my bloodstream. I was not so fortunate as the cop turned the tool around to show that my fate was sealed. The cuffs came on and I was thrust into the back of his vehicle and forced to watch my two friends get interrogated and my car searched.
Consequences of drunk driving have never been a concern of mine before this unfortunate incident. What I failed to realize though, is that when you drive after drinking it only takes one miscalculation or the tiniest folly to allow the law to meddle in your life, and wallet, as much as they please. This happened, as I said last Memorial Day and it’s still ongoing with no clear end currently in sight. Between the court fees and the fines added to the price tag of my lawyer the financial burden has crossed the two-thousand mark and is still climbing.
Three months after my arrest my friend Chris told me of a get together one of our friends was having at her house. I told him there was no way I would be driving that night and he agreed. Off we went thinking I had made the only responsible choice that would be necessary that night. The booze was flowing and the laughs were roaring while thoughts of legal repercussions were gone from my mind with the comforting feeling that my keys wouldn’t be necessary. Around 1 in the morning I ran out of cigarettes and Chris was getting hunger pains so we decided to make a trip out for smokes and Mickey D’s. I wasn’t keeping track of how much liquor had been entering Chris’s system and when asked if he was able to drive his response, “of course,” was enough for me.
I regained consciousness to the sound of Chris screaming my name and noticed that I was on the ground staring up a tree. Disoriented and confused, I laid there a minute more before yelling back and looking to the right of me and seeing the undercarriage of the jeep we were in. I got to my feet and gazed at the scene before me. Chris’s jeep was on its side with a tree a quarter ways through it. Debris from inside the vehicle was scattered all across the road including a tire, a sound system, and my friend Chris. I found him on the opposite side of his car, sitting next to it covered in blood with his forearm broken in a 90° fashion. I began wondering what I must have looked like as Chris looked as though he had just been attacked by a bear, or perhaps the tree we had just collided with. He was on the phone when I found him, telling his girlfriend that we would not be making it back to the party.
Still in a hazy state of confusion I looked around and noticed that about half-a-dozen people had come out of their nearby homes to see what had happened and if everything was okay. One of them asked me if my friend and I were alright and if I had a cell phone to call for help. I let him know that we were at least okay and handed him mine. Fifteen minutes later Chris and I were put on gurneys and shipped to the hospital.
I was unable to walk for two weeks and Chris ended up getting steel rods put in his then perpendicular forearm. Still to this day neither of us can adequately explain how I ended up in the spot I awoke at; though we both agree that the roll cage had to have narrowly missed squashing my head like a grape. If we each got a dollar for every time we were told of how lucky we were to be alive we could have easily paid our staggering medical expenses without help from our insurance companies. We also got our fair share of legal repercussions as well: Chris got slammed with a DUI and I received an underage drinking charge to add insult to injury. More court fees, more fines, and more checks written out to my attorney. As a result, I now spend most of my nights downtown with a large red light on behind me.
Alcohol is around for many reasons: it’s fun to consume, it makes things interesting, and helps keep rehab centers in business. But there are a number of regulations on it for many reasons as well, and a couple of them make sense. We all see the signs and warnings against drinking and driving. We hear it from our worried parents and drab health teachers from years past. I tell my tales of DUIs and drunken near-death experiences not as another one of these superficial warnings, but to warn you what is really around the corner if you drive around it impaired.