The media often popularizes driving under the influence (DUI) arrests, using them as plot points in comedies, action films, and crime mysteries. You have probably seen or read about fictional DUIs before, but experiencing a DUI in person is much different. Still, we can learn what not to do from examining famous fictional arrests.
The Arrest: In the Adam Sandler comedy, The Longest Yard (2005), police arrest Paul Crewe after a police chase and car accident. Crewe mocks one officer for his large ears and reveals an open container of beer. A televised police chase ensues, ending in Crewe crashing the Bentley and getting arrested.
The Lesson: If police pull you over, be polite and comply with their commands. Never insult an officer or try to make light of the situation with jokes. This will only incense the officer against you. Crewe made his situation go from bad to much worse by fleeing the scene and resisting arrest.
The Arrest: Brady tries to bribe the officer with a $100 bill. Then he admits to drinking “five or six small-batch bourbons.” When the officer asks him to comply with a Breathalyzer test, Brady runs away. Brady then steals the police officer’s vehicle (thinking it was his car) and returns it after realizing his mistake.
The Lesson: Don’t try to bribe an officer. It will not work, and will only make your situation worse. Remember, police vehicles have cameras recording your every move. The officer can use this footage later to demonstrate your intoxication. Do not admit to drinking before driving. Never try to run from an officer at a DUI stop or resist arrest. Stealing a police vehicle could result in major criminal charges on top of your DUI.
The Arrest: Brian the dog drinks liquor from his flask in the movie theater during a guy’s night out. He’s too drunk to drive but gets behind the wheel. A police officer Joe stops Brian for swerving and places him under arrest. Brian thinks that because Joe is his friend, he will not get a DUI, but the courts convict him.
The Lesson: Even if you are friends with a police officer, you cannot get away with driving under the influence in California. Do not think that friends in high places will help you avoid a DUI conviction or the penalties.
The Arrest: The fiction novel While It Lasts by Abbi Glines involves a high school teen getting a DUI and losing his free ride to junior college on a baseball scholarship. Cage York was driving home after taking tequila shots, something he’s done before. He doesn’t think he was swerving, but the cops pull him over and arrest him for DUI.
The Lesson: You may think you are sober enough to drive home from a bar or party, but you aren’t. Driving while intoxicated can give you a false sense of confidence. Odds are, you are swerving in your vehicle or passing through stop signs. It’s not safe to drive after even relatively modest alcohol consumption, and you may not be consciously aware of the degree to which your judgment and driving abilities have become impaired.
The Arrest: A heartbroken James gets into a car accident after a breakup with his girlfriend. While drinking from a bottle of his father’s booze and driving, he almost strikes another vehicle, swerves, and hits a shrub. He gets out of his vehicle, throws up, and passes out. In the movie, James is required to pay only the property damage.
The Lesson: Never drink after a draining, dramatic episode with a friend or family member. (In fact, driving while angry or overly emotional – even while sober – can lead to poor decisions and slower reaction time to events on the road.) If you know you are in a bad state, cool off before getting behind the wheel. If you turn to alcohol to cope with a problem, recognize the misguided nature of this strategy; then arrange a ride home with a safe designated driver or a ride share service like Uber or Lyft.
The Arrest: A suspected DUI driver needs emergency surgery after suffering catastrophic injuries in a car accident. A police officer demands she takes a blood alcohol content (BAC) level before surgery to get an accurate read. The DUI suspect is conscious, and she refuses to take the test. The officer states she doesn’t need consent, but the doctors take the patient away for surgery.
The Lesson: If you refuse a BAC test, you automatically face a license suspension of one year in California. Be prepared to accept the consequences of refusing to take such a test.
The Arrest: In Season 7, police pull Emily Gilmore over for talking on her cell phone while driving. The police officer suspects Emily has been drinking and makes her take a Breathalyzer test. Emily had a glass of wine, but she does not get a DUI.
The Lesson: Officers must have a reason to pull you over before arresting you for DUI, such as driving with broken headlights, swerving or, in Emily’s case, talking on the cell phone. If the officer did not have probable cause to make the stop, the arrest can be challenged.
The Arrest: Phil and Claire get a late-night phone call that police arrested Haley for underage drinking and assaulting an officer. Haley was drinking at a party and must go to court. She ends up having to leave her college.
The Lesson: Although police did not arrest Haley for drinking and driving, this episode serves as a good lesson in underage drinking. California’s Zero Tolerance Law makes it illegal for a driver under the age of 21 to show any BAC level in a chemical test. It is not safe to have even one drink before driving as an underage drinker.
The Arrest: Homer left work early and went on a tour of the Duff brewery with Barney. Homer tries to be responsible by driving instead of letting the soused Barney drive, but Homer ends up failing a Breathalyzer test. Police revoke Homer’s license and make him attend traffic school and Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
The Lesson: Just because you are less intoxicated than your friends does not mean you’re sober enough to safely and legally drive home. Calling a cab (or an Uber or Lyft) is a much cheaper alternative than facing a DUI in California.
The Arrest: Randy loses his driver’s license after getting arrested for DUI. Randy had a couple of drinks before trying to drive the boys home from school. The police order Randy to do community service and attend an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Randy begins to drink more instead of less until he realizes he has the power to stop drinking.
The Lesson: If you have responsibilities as a parent, such as picking up your child from school, it is incredibly dangerous to drink and drive. Randy shouldn’t have gotten behind the wheel in his state knowing he was responsible for transporting children.