Weekly Question

Or perhaps, since I’ve been so spotty with these of late, I should just title this one “12/1/09 Question”. Either way…

Ann offers the following scenario:

This has been bothering me for a while, maybe you can weigh in…

A while back a very inebriated man stumbled into my workplace (not the first time this had happened with the same individual). I had seen him drive to my office in his car, and knew full well he would be getting back in the same car and heading back out on the streets of Seattle.
While my coworker “entertained” him, I went into the other room to let the police know about the impending deadly weapon headed for the streets, and his past history which all but guaranteed I wasn’t being overly cautious.

I was told that they couldn’t do anything until he was actually headed for his car, and told to call back at that time. No surprise, by the time I reached the police he was in his car and on his merry way down the street. I have no idea if he killed anybody after he left me.
Apparently, one needs to actually view the bullet leaving the barrel of the gun before calling the police. It’s ok to point the gun, but until you actually pull the trigger, no crime has been committed.

What else can a person do in this situation (keeping in mind, said person is a smallish female, and in no position to be trying to tackle a drunk)?

Excellent question, Ann. I can’t answer for the Seattle PD (who did one hell of a job today…see this). The laws may very well be different in Washington. As per usual, all I can offer is how I would handle the incident.

Based on what you’ve said, it seems you saw the individual driving. If I were dispatched to you and I saw an inebriated individual that was identified by an independent witness (you) as the driver of a vehicle, I would then be able to pursue a DUI investigation. For the sake of argument, let’s assume you didn’t see him driving. His level of inebriation and his ability to care for himself (or lack thereof) may qualify as being drunk in public. It’s a lesser charge and I don’t need any witnesses.

Obviously, your situation didn’t work out that way. Should there be a next time, my only advice is to get as detailed a description of the individual, vehicle (to include the license plate), and last known direction of travel as you can and pass it along to the police. We get these kinds of calls from time to time and, if possible, we can sit on the registered owner’s home in the hopes that the driver is the registered owner and the individual is actually headed home. If we see the driver commit any infraction, we can stop the vehicle. If not, we can still consensually contact the driver when they pull up to the house and try to ascertain if there actually is a crime occurring.

It’s a tough spot for you to be in, 5’2″ or not. In this case, I would certainly not advise you to attempt to detain anyone, particularly if they are indeed intoxicated. Drunk folks tend to not think rationally.

Thanks for the question and I hope my answer helped!

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic. Snark is encouraged. Being a prat is not.

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5 thoughts on “Weekly Question

  1. Funny…we have a client that comes into our salon, often times drunk. I told Indubitably I should text him the next time she shows up. He would have a guaranteed DUI.

    Good advice. Thanks.

  2. My ex-husband drank and drove regularly. Usually he was gone by the time I got home from work. I never knew where he was until he came home and I lived in fear until he did (and often, after, too).

    I didn't care if he killed himself, I just didn't want him to slam into someone else and hurt them. I had his truck and motorcycle plates numbers, but I never knew where he was, or else you can be sure I would have alerted the cops wherever he was.

    He was eventually in an accident, his car only, but the bastard survived to beat the DUI (.18 BAC) and continue to drink and drive. Loser.

  3. Why no use the direct approach? Tell him to leave. He is not wanted in your workplace in his condition and not to come back. Then call the cops when he raises a stink and refuses to leave and have him arrested.

    This is not the first time he has walked in drunk and it won't be his last.

  4. In Calif. the codes allow us to make this arrest without driving obs. However him in his car, doing something to get in it or actually driving is a much better case of DUI and will get filed. Other wise, drunk in public is the best option.

    As for Ann getting involved. MC has nailed it right on the head. Be the best witness you can!