(Photo by Kati Garner)
Hot girl’s house. Open bar. Neighborhood located at Hiller and Greer.
It was just another night of heavy drinking. Drinking to the point where I even tried to sneak a fifth of vodka and four Mike’s Hard Lemonade for my walk, and arrival home. I say tried, because I was obviously unsuccessful, which is a good thing because this hot girl was a pretty good friend of mine, and I didn’t need to be hording her mother’s booze.
I left the premises with one Matt Richard. Although our levels of intoxication contrasted, it was in the best interest for us both not to drive home. After all, we were just a few miles down the road, and everyone enjoys a leisurely drunk stroll to wind down a nice evening.
Richard was particularly excited about the stroll, primarily because he had his roller blades in the trunk of his car. They were a recent purchase of his of which he was extraordinarily proud of. Often I would hear about a new stretch of fabulous black top pavement that he had discovered and couldn’t wait to blade on.
With beers in hand, feet in shoes, and blades on foot, we began our late night stroll back to Willow Farms. While approaching the light a squad car drove by, Matt dumped his beer, I wasn’t as sharp, flashers and sirens blew, we were being pulled over.
“Lamb, you’re wasted, let me do the talking.”
The officer approached, and asked us for our identification. 22 at the time, we gladly complied.
“What’s the story guys?”
Rather than letting Richard do the talking, I immediately plead our case (far less eloquently I imagine.)
“We’re leaving a friends from that neighborhood. We live just down the street. We could have been driving but we’re responsible.”
The officer made me ditch my beer, returned our IDs, and told us to get home without any trouble. Only once in my lifetime had I been pulled over on foot before. It was my freshman year in college, at High Point University, and I was stumbling home after being removed from a frat party. They kicked me out because I was a baseball player, fortunately and unrelated I had already stolen a handle of vodka which the cop made me dump out.
Immediately following his departure Richard tore into me for acting like an idiot.
“I told you to let me do the talking! Why couldn’t you have just shut up!? You’re lucky he let us go!”
“He let us go, didn’t he? I handled it fine, Richard. You’re not the authority on talking to police just because you think you’re better than everyone!”
There we were, roughly 2:30 in the morning, pretty sauced, arguing with one another because, well, that is what me and Richard do. Not three steps were taken, or in Richard’s case bladed, before a second squad car flashed it’s lights and pulled us over.
“It’s almost three in the morning! I could hear you yelling from down the street, what is going on here!?”
I let Richard handle this one. We gave him our IDs, again, he checked us out and let us go with a warning.
“When I get back to this corner, if you’re still here, I’m bringing you in.”
That was all we needed to hear. We diligently advanced down Greer in mutual disbelief that we had been pulled over twice in the span of 10 minutes, no more than 10 yards from the neighborhood we departed from.
Richard recommended we cut through Hidden Lake, a neighborhood in the area avoiding the main road and any further run-ins with the law. I was confident that the odds of us being pulled over a third time were as likely as him getting a DUI on roller blades, so we briefly voiced our conflicting opinions, and parted ways.
No further trouble faced our individual return trips. To this day I ponder the wonder that could have been if only the officer had issued Richard a DUI on roller blades. I have heard of several instances involving bicyclists being charged for driving under the influence, so I decided to look into the matter further.
To no surprise my first discovery occurred in the town of Columbus, Ohio. Jeff Brown was walking his bicycle — across his front lawn — when a cop stopped him. The cop began to cite him for not having a headlight on the bike, then said,
“I smell the presence of alcohol on your breath”.
Jeff was stunned — and refused to take a breath test. Result: convicted of drunk driving — with four days in jail, a 6-month driver’s license suspension and a criminal record. So Jeff decided to appeal…and started looking into why the Ohio Legislature in 2004 had changed the drunk driving laws from driving motor vehicles to include operating such “vehicles” as golf carts, lawn mowers, farm tractors and bicycles — and from driving on public roads to include driving on your own private property. He found the reasons for the new laws were based on supposed fatality figures from MADD and the federal government….figures which were, to say the least, deceptive.
San Francisco police arrested one Tyrone McDonald and charged him with “driving” a horse under the influence of alcohol. McDonald had become intoxicated and stolen a horse from a local racetrack, thereafter riding into oncoming traffic where he was met by a truck. McDonald was charged with grand theft, cruelty to animals and drunk driving. You can’t make this shit up.
Shocking as it may be, in another horse-riding-while-under-the-influence case, the Judge threw out the case in realizing that the term “vehicle” in the drunk driving statute did not really mean “horse.” The prosecution appealed however, and one justice on the Court, however, insisted that a horse was, in fact, a vehicle and wrote a dissenting opinion in which he (no joke) wrote the following poem:
“A horse is a horse, of course, of course, but the Vehicle Code does not divorce its application from, perforce, a steed as my colleagues said. ‘It’s not vague’, I’ll say until I’m hoarse, and whether a car, a truck or horse, this law applies with equal force, and I’d reverse instead.”
All of a sudden it’s not so far fetched that one of two officers could have given Richard a DUI on blades. I have a told him on a few occasions,
“Imagine the possibilities, I could have made you a star, Leno, Letterman, I would have had you on every late night show, coast to coast.”
Yet another shot at semi-stardom lost, however brief its duration, I’ll take my 15 minutes.
The lesson learned: be weary of all means of transit when intoxicated, from blades to horse, front lawn to sidewalk, consider yourself warned.
This story was originally published on Supraterranean in April 2009.