The driver who turns up a fifth of Jack Black while singing Sweet Home Alabama at the top of his little redneck lungs, is obviously driving while under the influence of alcohol. But what about the driver who chugs only three or four drinks before sliding in behind the wheel? What makes a patrol officer zero in on that guy? And, what if our redneck driver eats an onion after consuming his alcohol, or drinks a bottle of mouthwash? Will those tricks fool the officer’s breath-testing equipment?
Let’s start with some of the signs officers look for when scanning the roads for inebriated drivers. Here are a few dead give-aways:
1) Stopping in the middle of the road for absolutely no reason. Believe it or not, this maneuver is often performed in front of a marked police car.
2) Driving the wrong way on a one-way street. The drunk driver is often seen flipping-off approaching drivers.
2) Driving in the center of the road, straddling the center line. This, too, often occurs in front of a police car.
3) Failing to dim headlights when meeting an oncoming car. Officers have to be careful here, because this driver is not always intoxicated. Older drivers, for example, can sometimes be seen stomping the left floorboard of the car. You see, that’s where the dimmer switches were located forty or fifty years ago…and I remember it well. Actually, I’ve owned a car or two with dimmer switches on the floorboard. And, I remember how difficult it was getting used to the switch on the steering column.
4) Traveling well below, or above, the posted speed limit.
Note: Exception to this rule is an old guy wearing a John Deere hat. They always drive well below the posted speed limit. May or may not be drunk. This one’s a coin toss.
Exception number two—three-foot-tall women over the age of eighty.
5) A car that strikes stationary objects on either side of the roadway as it passes by. Has the appearance of the silver ball inside a pinball machine.
6) My personal favorite is the drunk driver stopped beside the officer at a red light. First comes the casual sideways glance toward the officer, followed by a nod and the mule-eating-briars grin. Then, they just can’t help themselves. Down comes the window so they can tell the officer (you) what a fine job you’re doing. And, the idiot cannot stop himself at this point. He informs you that his third cousin twice removed on his mother’s side of his daddy’s grandmother’s family was the chief of police in Doodlebunk, Kansas. Therefore, the two of you must be related. Well, it’s pretty obvious he’s stoned out of his gourd. Of course, the bag of dope hanging out of his shirt pocket doesn’t help his case, either. Pull over, buddy.
As for the onion trick. No way. Attempting to fool breath-testing equipment is a waste of time. The machines don’t measure the amount of alcohol in the air, or in the suspect’s breath. Still, the concentration of the alcohol in the air that’s deep in the lungs is directly related to the concentration of the alcohol in the blood. The ratio of breath alcohol to blood alcohol is 2100 to 1, so the alcohol content of 2100 milliliters of exhaled air will be the same as for 1 milliliter of blood. In short, the devices do the calculations, providing results to the testing officer.
So, eat an onion if you like, you’re the one who’ll be sleeping in a jail cell with bad breath.
Better still, don’t drink and drive. Your family needs you.