I should begin by telling you I do not drink much. An occasional glass of wine, never two glasses, and no hard stuff, ever. I may have consumed a grand total of two beers in my entire life. I’m not trying to say I am better than anyone else, who might drink a bit. I am just not into it and never have been.
While I am not much of a drinker, I have lots of experience with drunks, many of whom I found to be funny, entertaining people, who frequently managed to get themselves into trouble, requiring my legal services. God bless them and alcohol, both of whom helped put my kids through school.
People who drink too much usually get the opportunity to really screw up while they are having “just one (or five) more.” They rarely think about the consequences, which is probably just as well. Surprisingly, the unintended consequences are not always bad or tragic. Sometimes they are hilariously funny. I present to you for your consideration the following true stories from my law practice.
I was asked to represent a fifty-five year old lady, who was not unfamiliar with one Jim Beam. She had been drinking at the local bar most of the afternoon and on into the evening, when the bartender cut her off, because she fell off the bar stool a second time. The barkeep told her it was time for her to go home and that he would call her a cab. She responded by telling him that she would go home when she was good and ready and that she was not ready. The irritated bartender called the cops who showed up five minutes later to remove the now unwanted business invitee.
The two officers, who were much experienced in dealing with winos, politely told the lady that she needed to leave and they would take her home. She responded by saying she wasn’t going anywhere with them. The cops replied that if she was going to be uncooperative and not let them take her home, they would arrest her for public intoxication and take her to jail. She responded by telling them that they were not going to arrest her, she was not going home, and she was certainly not going to jail. The cops, having had their authority questioned by this obviously inebriated drunkard in front of a bar full of probably equally wasted onlookers, were not amused.
So, they approached her from two sides and firmly grabbed hold of both of her arms in an attempt to get her off the bar stool. As they did so, both of the officers suddenly froze in place and one was heard to shout “Oh my God!” They both dropped her onto the bar stool and backed away slowly with looks of sheer horror on their faces. Within seconds, the rest of the crowd, likewise, was yelling and retreating from the drunken patron.
“OK, lady, you win. We’re out of here,” they said to the lady. Turning to the frustrated bartender, one of the officers said, “You are on your own, pal. And don’t call us back, either!”
They roared out the door, followed closely by much of the crowd. As the cops and patrons hit the door, my client was heard to exclaim, “I told you I wasn’t leaving until I was ready to leave.” She got down unsteadily from the bar stool and weaved toward the door, leaving a smelly trail of fecal matter from the immense, dark load she had silently deposited on the bar stool and made her grand exit into the night. The cops arrested her the next day. Presumably, after she had a chance to shower.
Or how about this one? My client was driving home after work late one afternoon, when he was pulled over by two squad cars, who had been alerted by a do-gooder fellow motorist. My client was cooperative in answering the officers’ questions and did not appear to be intoxicated. Nonetheless, the officers asked him if he would perform a couple of field dexterity tests, so they could be comfortable in allowing him to continue on home. My client said he would be happy to comply.
The officers told him to walk heel-to-toe down a white line for 15 steps, make a 180 and walk back. My client said that was entirely too easy. He quickly dropped to the ground, performed a creditable handstand, and walked the line on his hands in both directions, all the while counting the fifteen steps as directed. The cops were incredulous. But they were still not satisfied.
They asked if he would take a breath test from their portable alco-sensor device. My client said he would be happy to comply and proceeded to blow a .45 BAC, or about six times the legal limit. Or, if you prefer, gave a result that would have literally killed most of us by alcohol poisoning. At the very least, he should have been comatose. He was promptly arrested and hauled off to jail.
How can this be, you ask? When my client was about two years old, he had some sort of neurological problem. Treatment required him to take a liquid medication four of five times a day. The medicine was suspended in alcohol. He took the medicine until he was 15 years old. By that time his system was used to the alcohol, which led him into a quart a day Smirnoff habit.
Or how about this one? My client came home from working the second shift at about 6 am. His charming wife was extremely upset because the shift was over at midnight. My client advised her that he had worked four hours of overtime and then stopped at a local bar that routinely stayed open all night. Wifey was having none of that and accused him of making a side trip to his girlfriend’s house.
My client, who was clearly drunk, knew where all this was going, so he told the frau that he was leaving. He headed for the door of the upstairs bedroom, which Wifey promptly blocked with her ample body. Knowing that he would likely have to physically remove her from the door frame to exit the bedroom, and knowing that she had a previously disclosed penchant for calling 911 and claiming that he hit her (which had previously landed him in jail on domestic abuse charges) my client went the opposite direction, heading for the sliding glass door that led out onto a second story balcony. He climbed over the railing on the balcony and jumped to safety, two stories below, breaking his leg.
When I asked him if breaking his leg hurt, he told me that he was too drunk to notice, but that he had at least not gone to jail. As he signed the divorce papers, he commented that he preferred the hospital ER to jail, as the treatment he received at the hospital was better than at the jail.
Finally, there was my client who had too much to drink about five minutes before we were to appear in court. It was obvious to me he was drunk as he could hardly speak. I knew the judge would not appreciate his condition. I told him I could probably get his case continued, but he insisted on finishing the matter. I suggested that if the judge discovered he was drunk, he might put him in jail for contempt. He wanted the hearing done. So, I told him to sit quietly beside me and I would do the talking. Under no circumstances was he to move or talk and he was not to look at the judge.
For a while he did well. Just as ordered. But then I heard an unholy, roiling sound from his lower regions. I instinctively knew what was coming. I grabbed his jacket, which he had put on the chair next to him, and put it onto his lap, while reaching under the table to move my briefcase and get a file. Meanwhile, my client looked over at me, put his head down and silently vomited into his jacket. He did a remarkable job of covering up his indiscretion…except for the smell, which quickly permeated the courtroom.
The judge, now acutely aware of what was going on asked if my client would like a short recess. I said that he would. Two minutes later, in his chambers, the commented that I almost got away with it, but that the giveaway was the loud protest that had come from my client’s distressed tummy. He got a day in jail. Probably justified.
So there you have it. I could go on with another hundred similar stories about humans and their misadventures with alcohol. Often times tragic, but not always. Sometimes, just plain funny. Kind of like life and the human condition.