Breathalyzer Bend


In a footnote to a previous post, I alluded to the story of Breathalyzer Bend. Here’s how I became the only person I know who’s taken a roadside sobriety test despite never having held a driver’s licence.

During Thanksgiving vacation in my first year of university, I was chilling out on Saturday night with my friends Tim and Barry at Tim’s place. They were absolutely tanked on Upper Canada Rebellion, a fine lager brewed in accordance with the Bavarian Purity Act of 1516. I wasn’t really a drinker at that point, so I’d just had one or two beers. At some point,our friend Andrew, who was still in his last year of high school, dropped by.

I previously mentioned Andrew as being my pal who became such a drunk and spent so much time at the local bar after graduation that he actually got his mail delivered there. That’s actually true. But Andrew wasn’t drunk that night; he was tripping on acid. Still good company, though. Andrew had these superstrict parents he always called the Nazis, so they weren’t even cool with him being out of the house, let alone out of the house tripping on acid. He’d sneaked out to come meet up with us.

Toward the end of the night, Barry went home. He only lived a couple of blocks from Tim, so it was an easy walk. Andrew lived across town, though. So he asked Tim if he could get a ride. “Oh, no, man,” Tim said. “I’m way too drunk.” He thought for a minute. “But Pete’s got his 365, and he’s not drunk.” (Note: The learner’s permit in Ontario used to be called a 365 because it was valid for one year.) “He can drive, and I’ll sit in the passenger seat and supervise, and that’ll be fine.” So we piled into the car to get Andrew home before his parents found out he was out and killed him.

So we drove over to the Ormond Street overpass on the way over to Andrew’s. To the relief of Brockville residents, that intersection has been redesigned since, but it used to be that the overpass that ended Ormond Street intersected with Parkedale Avenue and the exit off the 401 in one ugly, confusing pretzel of an intersection that didn’t even have any stop lights, so I was a little bit antsy about negotiating my way through that. Making me even antsier was the dickhead driving behind me, riding right on my tail.

“Look at this dickhead driving behind me,” I grumbled. “He’s riding right on my tail.”

“It’s probably a cop,” laughed Tim.

I made the right turn off Parkedale Avenue onto Ormond. Behind me, flashing red lights immediately snapped on.

“It is a cop!” exclaimed Andrew. I’d soon find out that while trying to unravel the mystery of the Ormond/Parkedale/401 intersection, I’d accidentally run a stop sign. Together with what surely looked like some fairly amateurish driving up until then and no small amount of boredom on the part of a small-town police officer, and that was reason enough to make me pull over.

I pulled over, and the cop pulled over behind me. At that point, I suddenly remembered that my 365 was expired, so I slipped my wallet out of my pocket and dropped it between the seats, figuring that it was better to claim to have left it at home than to be caught outright with an expired learner’s permit. The cop approached the window, which I rolled down. He immediately reeled. “Someone’s been drinking,” he said.

“It’s not me, officer,” I said.

“Oh, no? Could you please exhale, sir?”

I exhaled. He wrinkled his nose. “Really.”

“Okay, I had one,” I admitted. “But I’m not drunk, sir. I’ll even take a breathalyzer and prove it.”

“Yes,” he said. “You will.”

So I had to go back to the cruiser with him and take the breathalyzer. I blew, and blew, and blew until I thought I was going to pass out. He stared at the results for a long time, shaking his head. “Well …” he said, pausing for an eternity before his next words, leaving me sitting there with my heart pounding, wondering if I’d failed.

“… you passed, but I still don’t think you should be driving tonight.”

It turns out that the driver supervising the student driver actually has to be sober to be considered in charge of the vehicle, so Tim’s plan was flawed. “I want you to just turn the car around and go home,” the cop said.

I was happy to be let off, but there was still the matter of Andrew. “But we’re only out so we could take our friend home,” I said.

“Don’t worry,” the cop said. “I’ll take him home.”

So, he took Andrew away in the cruiser, and Tim and I headed back to his place, where we crashed. Within a couple of days, Barry, Tim, and I were all back at university. No one heard anything from Andrew, so we just quietly assumed that his parents had finally murdered him.

We did finally run into him at Christmas. It turned out that the cop either didn’t notice or care that the kid in his cruiser was obviously on drugs. In fact, the two of them just laughed at me all the way back to Andrew’s neighborhood, where the cop let him out a block from his house, and Andrew climbed in through a window and into bed without anyone ever noticing he was gone.

2 Responses to “Breathalyzer Bend”

  1. 1 LOLGirl


  2. 2 Kitty

    Pet, that’s a superb story. You see how much fun drugs are?

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