Get a license

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I go to a lot of traffic collisions involving drivers who are unlicensed. You’d be shocked how often this happens. It happens so much, I’m amazed when I go to a call where all of the drivers have licenses. When that happens, I want to hug each driver just for following the damn rules.

This past weekend reached new lows when it comes to unlicensed driver crashes. On Friday night I went to a crash where a driver with a suspended license crashed into an unlicensed driver.

It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does I find it kind of ironic. Out of the thousands of cars on the street at that moment, what are the chances of those two finding each other and crashing?

Fast forward to Saturday night.

The night was very busy and I ended up handling six crash investigations. Of those six, three involved unlicensed drivers. On the first call, an unlicensed driver made a left turn in front of a woman with a suspended license. On the next crash, an unlicensed driver was involved in a street race when he lost control and hit another car. On the third crash, an unlicensed DUI driver rear ended an unlicensed woman.

The night left the tow truck companies happy because of all the money they’re going to make from the impounds. I wondered what was going on. Had the world turned upside down and all of the unlicensed drivers landed in my city to conduct a game of demolition derby?

After almost 6,000 collisions and over 15 years of working traffic, I have never seen that many crashes involving unlicensed driver in such a short time.

By the end of the night I just wanted to make it to the freeway in one piece and avoid being another unlicensed driver victim.  That happened to me once while I was on-duty a long time ago, but that’s for another blog story.

“You look familiar”

_DSC7442The other night I was on a three-car collision when I looked at one of the drivers and said, “You look familiar.”

He turned to me with DUI looking eyes and didn’t say anything.

“Have you crashed before?” I asked.

He nodded his head as he said, “Yes.”

“Do you remember me?”

He shook his head no.

There was a tremor in the force because my Jedi senses told me I had run into this guy before. Well, he actually ran into someone else to be more accurate. I spent the rest of the call trying to figure out how I knew him.

A little while later, the arresting officer told me our driver was in a 2014 DUI collision that I was on. I knew it. Later on I did some research and read the old report. Bingo. I knew exactly who that was.

Back in May of 2014, I was stopped for a red light when my partner and I heard a crash. I looked across the intersection and saw two cars that were involved in a rear end collision. I drove across the street and pulled in behind the cars. The striking vehicle had front end damage and smoke was coming out from under the hood.

That’s when the door popped open and the driver fell out of the car. It was as if all of his weight was against the door and he rolled out onto the street. Once on the street, he flopped around like a sea lion at Sea World begging for a treat after doing a trick. The only thing missing was a crowd, a bucket of fish and a large pool of water.

After a few moments of animal entertainment he rolled over and started doing a low crawl like a sniper was shooting at him from a clock tower. It surely would’ve won the grand prize on America’s Funniest Home Videos. In the end, he was arrested for DUI and went to jail.

It was funny to watch because it’s not every day you get to see a grown man fall out of his car because he’s so drunk. It’s also not every day you get to run into him again at another collision.

Here’s the sad thing. This is the second time this year where I’ve contacted a previous DUI customer of mine at a crash where they were DUI again.

When are these people ever going to learn?

The drunk driver and his family

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The other night I saw something that bothered me for some reason. It wasn’t a dead body, a horrific accident, or amputated body parts. It was a family watching their father get arrested for DUI.

On Saturday night, I was at a hit and run collision when this woman, in her early twenties, drove up and told me the suspect vehicle belonged to her father. The young woman, who I’ll Kate, told me someone called her mother to let her know her husband was involved in a collision and where the vehicle was.

While we were talking, her mother’s cell phone rang. It was the person who had originally called about her father. She handed me the phone and said, “You talk to him.”

A man told me he was with the driver from the collision at a nearby shopping center. I hung up and told Kate where her dad was. She asked, “Can I go with you?” I told her she would have to drive her car instead.

She knew which shopping center I was talking about and she pulled into the parking lot just ahead of me. Her brother, who was about 13 or 14 years old, jumped out of the vehicle and ran to his father. The boy was about my son’s height and age, with a similar build.

The son was crying hysterically as he wrapped both arms around his father. He held on to him like he didn’t want to let go because the police were going to take his father away. The boy’s display of emotions hit me like the sound of a door slamming in a quiet library. A pain shot through my heart as I thought of my son, knowing how much he loved me, just like this boy loved his father too. There wasn’t we could do here. The man had collided into a tree and a parked car. We had a job to do.

I then looked over to a little girl, who was about 7 years old. She was standing a few feet behind her brother and she was crying too. Kate was next to her with a different look on her face. It was a look of sadness, pain and disappointment, all mixed together. She seemed mad, but not at us. She was mad at her father. That’s when she said, “He’s done this before.”

“He’s been in a DUI crash before?”

“Yes, you can look it up. You’ll see.”

Kate wanted to know what was going to happen and stayed in the parking lot with her mom and siblings.

When I spoke to the driver, I was amazed how drunk he was. His was a mess. This wasn’t a guy who had one too many. This was a guy who had twenty too many. Thank goodness there was only one collision.

After I interviewed him, I spoke to some officers, who were at the scene of the crash. It turned out the driver had crashed in front of his sister’s apartment. Officers spoke to his sister and she told them her brother was always drunk.

Later that night I ran his driving record and found the DUI conviction Kate was talking about. It was a felony DUI conviction from almost ten years ago. That would’ve put Kate between 10 or 12 years old at the time. Now I knew what that look was on her face.

It was a look of sadness, pain and disappointment that was a combination of what happened tonight and what she went through as a child. It was also a look of a person, who was used to seeing her father this way. It was tragic.

I cleared the call and moved on, but I couldn’t shake the image of the son hanging onto his father while he cried.

The next day started my days off. I told my family about the call and how it affected me. I also told them other stories from the night before. We laughed at some of the crazy things people do.

Life was back to normal for me with my family. What most people take for granted, I see as a blessing because of what I experience at work.

On Monday I barbecued and we had dinner as a family. As I sat there, I thought back to that kid hugging his father. What a different world my kids live in compared to that kid. Later that night, my son and I stayed up late watching Netflix. Life was good.

There’s one thing about police work. This job always has a way of reminding you how good you have it. It’s important never to forget that.