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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Straight Dope

Posted By on Sat, Jan 24, 2009 at 9:00 PM

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In The Bad Girl's Guide to the Open Road, Cameron Tuttle suggests the following technique for getting out of a DUI: If you get pulled over, immediately step out of the car with a bottle of your favorite liquor and chug a couple shots' worth. The officer now has no way of proving you were drinking before you got out of the car. Interesting thought, but is this actually true? Perhaps the most the officer could do would be to cite you for public intoxication/open container in public?

— Hazle Weatherfield, via the Straight Dope Message Board

Yes, Hazle, that's an interesting thought. But can you imagine this ridiculous gambit actually working here in reality land? I didn't think so. Tuttle concedes as much, prefacing her advice with the comment that "if you've been drinking and have an open bottle of hard liquor in your car, you're already in deep shit. So what do you really have to lose?"

Let's back up a bit. Prior to Breathalyzer-type technology, which measures blood alcohol concentration, or BAC, drunk driving was a tough charge to make stick – prosecutors needed witnesses to testify about the defendant's slurred speech, unstable gait, and so on. Things got only slightly easier after BAC testing devices became available in the 1930s. Although a high BAC was telling evidence, you still needed corroborating testimony about drunken behavior, plus you had to have an expert witness explain what BAC meant. Eventually states wised up and passed "per se" laws, which defined drunk driving quite simply: operating a vehicle with a certain minimum BAC. Today it's .08 percent. Read more.

(Illustration by Slug Signorino)

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