Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Mothers Day

I'll tell the last story first. Sunday night, after hosting Mother's Day Lunch, I attended Pangea Day at The Traveller's office. His organisation was holding an event to see this 4 hour broadcast of film. I invited myself and my friend Marilyn (for support). The event had started when I arrived and I sat with Marilyn. It was a fully catered for event, with waiters passing food and drinks. We got tucked into the champagne. Charity and champagne go together, yeah?

Once settled, I saw The Traveller sitting in another part of the room. But this is not the story I'll be telling right now. So I'll fast forward to the end.

Marilyn and I were the last to leave (we're good at that) and went for another drink and some food at a pub near her place. We shared stories about the night and I took her home, almost.

Two streets from her place a Police car flashed his headlight at me. I couldn't think why. Then turned the corner and realised my headlights weren't on, only to see the Police car, full lights on, behind me. I pulled over.

"You were driving without your headlights' he said. "Have you been drinking? " he asked.

"Yes", I replied, " I've had a few champagnes " Marilyn started telling them were we'd been..unfortunately she was quite drunk and slurry, so this alarmed the officer.

'We'd like to breath test you" he said, "but we don't have a breath analyser here. We're calling for one to be brought over. Would you mind waiting here"

It took about 15 mins for the machine to arrive. I thought of all the champagnes I'd drunk that night & knew I wasn't' bad, but wasn't good. Still sitting in the car, I blew into the machine. They conferred and said I was over the limit ( .05 ). Shit.Fuck.

Get out of the vehicle, he said. 'We are arresting you for drink driving"

Marilyn was trying to ask them for my reading. But they wouldn't give it. Maybe because she was wobbling on the footpath.

We're taking you to the station for a further reading. They called for a paddy wagon.

Why not in a police car ? I asked. Procedure.

The paddy wagon was running late because they were taking prisoners in it.

I had to remove my belt, take only my essentials. I took all my jewellery off and placed it my handbag, then in the boot. I had my phone, my credit card and some cash.

When the wagon arrived a female office had to search me, then I got into the back.

Have you ever envisage what it's like in a paddy wagon ? I thought it was metal with two bench seats. This one was like a fridge. All white fiberglass and two benches, front and back. Slits for windows and a strong gust of air from the front. The seats were only 10cms high. I wedged my feet against the front and placed my hands on the space next to me. There were no seat belts, no handles. I thought of the last passengers, the prisoners.

I would have taken a photo, but they had my phone. How would that look on facebook?

The wagon drove to Waverly Police Station where they have a more accurate machine for breathe testing.

I could see via the front window the car driving into a garage. I was entering via the prisoner’s entrance. When it stopped I could see them all standing outside. When the door opened I was lead, not touched, to the ‘holding dock’ until the machine was ready.

The holding dock was like a clear phone box, with one bench seat. The whole front was clear Perspex and I faced the main desk, on which lay my personal things. I saw them fill out forms, check details and discuss me, while I sat behind plastic examining all the scratch marks and shoe marks on the walls.

I wanted my phone. I wanted to call people, go on-line, distract myself from reality.

I envisage myself from the outside. Me sitting there in a blazer, jeans and dress shoes. Two hours ago I was in the boardroom of a top 5 law firm, enjoying their hospitality while watching a program on world peace issues. Ah, juxtaposition.

Should I do star jumps ? get the blood moving and get the alcohol out of my system? What if the next reading is also over. I was arrested for being over the limit, DUI – driving under the influence is the code. However, I had to take another test, with a more accurate machine, before they could charge me. So I was under temporary arrest, pending the results of the next test.

Procedure continued with my rights being read, forms to sign and questions to answer.

They I was lead into the testing room.

“Can I use the bathroom?” I had drunk a lot of water while waiting in the car.

“No, not until after the test”

Two officers sat in a room, one taking notes and another setting up the machine. It was taking a long time.

“You’re coming down’ said the Detective Inspector “ and it’s to your advantage that this takes time to test you. If this reading is under, then you are free to go home. We will drive you back to your car “ I chatted to them about Pangea Day, for two reasons, one to show I wasn’t that drunk and two, I believe charm and good manners go a long way.

More time passed, more forms, more people coming through. I was first tested at 10:30pm. I was now 12:10am.

"Your first reading was .067"

They could take as long as they liked.

The machine was ready. It was a three part machine with printer, dials, led display and a cash register ticket thing. I liked it’s 1970 IBM look. Old technology was comforting me.

I blew. It beeped, whirred and chugged out paper.

The testing office looked at the results, turned to me and stuck out his hand. We shook. I knew what that meant. The reading was .04. My road side reading was .067. The D.I. said they get regularly abused by the public while waiting for the test.

My things were returned.

I quickly texted Marilyn “I’m free! They are driving me back. I have a certificate to prove my sobriety. God what an experience ! Now stop laughing and go to sleep” time: 1.10am

I ‘m horrified at what happened. But I’m sobered by the experience. And truthfully, I’ve driven DUI and could have not blown under both times. I just didn’t get stopped.


Chic Rugby said...

Wow! And I wonder if they were deliberately delaying testing you again to give your blood alcohol level time to go down? It must be more hassle than it's worth to pursue someone (wearing vintage Ferragamos and a natty blazer) for being only a little bit over the limit.

But don't do it again!

k said...

Oh wow! Well, lucky you!
I agree with chic rugby and by what the police said to you - there was a reason they were delaying you. Frustrating, but lovely at the end!

Anonymous said...

Don't you feel ashamed? You even said in your post that this is not the first time you have driven drunk. Imagine if you injured or killed someone? On mothers day? It would be bad enough sober, but being drunk? Don't downplay this extra risk of impaired judgment. In the dark streets of Surry Hills you didn't even know your headlights weren't on.

Cat's Experiment said...

Ah, all the catholic guilt is coming out of me. I do feel ashamed & it's a real lesson.

The Police said when they see someone driving badly, or with no headlights, they often find they are drunk.