A couple of days ago, I encountered three drunk drivers in three separate incidences.
It was about 0400 and the first one turned off N. Main onto Massey Tompkins on the wrong side of the road, right in front of me. I watched the long-haired fellow drive past me and he never sped up, or even looked my way.
The other two I came upon on SH146, headed for the Fred Hartman Bridge. I followed both of them after they crossed the bridge and when they turned onto 225, I was able to get on the feeder and get ahead of them safely.
I don't believe they were together, but one ended up following the other.
About 0700, the same morning, I finally settled down at work to check my email, look at Google News and get my day started. The drunk drivers kept coming to mind, so I posted what I had witnessed on Baytown Talks, the Baytown Suns online forum, to see what other Baytonians had experienced and to share my own experiences.
To my absolute surprise, I found that I, not the drunk drivers was the irresponsible party, because I hadn’t pulled over (at 0400 on basically deserted N. Main street) and phoned the police to report the first offender. My judgment was immediately suspect, as they may not have been drunk.
The person(s) may have actually been diabetic, sneezing heavily from hay fever, poor drivers and even, just plain idiot drivers. It was pointed out that police wouldn’t respond anyway, as they apparently are all asleep at the local donut shops.
I was advised to call the cops and then follow at a safe distance until they were apprehended.
I tried to explain my non-police call this way: “Well, I suppose they could of been just sleepy...all three of them, at 4 o'clock in the morning, especially the two doing 45 mph on 225 and in all fairness, the one going the wrong way on Massey Tompkins was probably just sleepy too. I know the guy in the middle lane that he passed thought the guy was drunk, because when I pulled up next to him, to take a left, the fellow was shaking his head in amazement.
The two sleepy guys on 225 doing 45 mph were so sleepy; they kept jerking the steering wheel trying to keep it in the lane. It was like watching synchronized sleepy driving”. Like famous politicians before a microphone, my attempt at humor only stirred my detractors to claim I was accused of “making assumptions about the condition of the driver and risking their and other lives by letting them to continue on driving in an erratic behavior”.
Now, I had become the prime offender. My crime of not calling the police was greater than the drunk drivers, because I was intentionally allowing a drunk driver to kill people.
Once again, I made an attempt to exonerate myself, but instead, made myself a fool.
“I considered "calling the cops", but did not see the license number of the dark SUV that went past me on Massey Tompkins and the light turned green and I drove off on N. Main. My cell phone was turned off and in my lunch box on the back seat.
By the time I would have pulled over, activated my phone and went through the rigmarole of getting the station officer, the character would be long gone.
Same-same on the other two, as on a State Highway, especially going over the Fred Hartman Bridge, police jurisdiction made it not worth the trouble”. My judgment was once again called in question, because even though it was 0400, I did not have my cell phone turned on and ready…” And why was your phone in the back seat turned off anyway? It does you no good if you would have been in an accident, had an emergency or been injured. What's the point of having one if you aren't going to use it?”
I was then instructed that I thought the whole episode was one big joke, because I retorted that I felt like I was the criminal.
“I find it a little unnerving how you think this is such a joke...but when (and God forbid) it happens to your family...I bet you'll think to yourself why didn't someone stop this idiot when they had the chance? I don't know how old your children are...but when your family is injured by a drunk driver, Bert may have seen them a few minutes before and just decided it wasn't worth it...too much trouble to dial 3 little numbers”.
I did however get some good advice and a number of people responded in my defense. A police officer told me straight up to call 911 the next time and “Let us do our job” and to him I say thank you. Encountering drunk drivers on the road at 0400 is rare and I did not know if this constituted a legitimate 911 call. That is why I initially said I would have to wait for the Station Officer, after the automated menu.
Drunk driving IS a serious offense and I do not want to see anyone hurt, or killed because someone felt they could safely drive after drinking too much. In the future, I will stop, power up my cell phone and call 911.
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