youthful indiscretion

SayUncle has a post with some good advice about your rights, were you ever to get arrested. It reminded me of a funny (now) story from my youth.

When I was 17, I was arrested at a party in Cheatham County for underaged drinking, among other things. I’ve decided to reproduce the story as I originally wrote it up for some friends 7 years ago for authenticity’s sake. Originally I wrote this as a note on a MUD, which was as close as I got to blogging in those days, I guess. Maybe if blogs had been around I could have solicited some public outcry! But anyways, with no further ado:

I had a wonderful experience this weekend, but I got tired of telling the whole thing to new people every time I saw someone else, so I wrote it down on this note.

I went to a party Friday (last night) night, way out in bumfuck in another county. We got there, and the party kinda sucked. I waited 30 mins to call my parents to let them know I was safe and sound, as my friend Nick was having a fight with his girlfriend on the phone. Anyway, I call, then I walk outside, not many people here. So I walk around out front to the road, where some friends of mine were standing around a car. I was standing there talking with them, they were drinking, and I took a taste of the wine my friend, Will, had, to see if it was any good. It wasn’t.

That was when the cop pulled up right behind us, told us to put our hands on the hood of the car, and asked us individually our age and if we had been drinking. In a moment of weakness/insanity/naivety, I said “yes, just a sip.” He then put me and Will in the back of the car, where we sat for over an hour while the cop organized and handcuffed everyone else that had actually been drinking. After an hour, he takes us out of the car, and gives us a breathalyzer test. I passed, of course, as I had not been drinking. This is the part where I get to go home, right? Wrong. “Get back in the car, son.” So then we sit there for another hour, while I watch all my friends go home, and also watch people that I know were smashed out of their mind driving away. Then they towed my car and we headed to the station. “book ‘em, dano”

So now, I am facing charges of ‘Possession of Alcohol’, and my court papers note that ‘Christopher Wage admitted to the use of alcohol’ or something similar. Worst case scenario is that I lose my driver’s license for a year and get expelled from school.

However, there are several problems here. Number one, I was never read my rights. Ever. Therefore, anything incriminating that I may have said, including the “yes, just a sip” that could be the only reason he had to take me in, is invalid. Apparently this cop had never heard of the Miranda laws. Second, he kept us in the car for over an hour without informing us why we were being held. You can’t be detained for more than 20 mins without being given a reason. But that’s not important anyway, I can’t change that.

My court papers also have me identified as “an unruly deliquent to seek counseling and/or rehabilitation.” I can’t WAIT to hear the cop explain this one.

So anyway, that’s my story. My court date is September 3rd. My lawyer friends are all saying to expect reports of how “i reeked of alcohol and was unruly, etc” and also to expect them to claim to have read me my rights. If I get convicted, i’m really gonna have a reason to hate the justice system. Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

In my haste to write it up at the time, I left out some of the more outrageous details:

  • It’s important to note that this party was not exactly on par with Animal House or anything. We were a bunch of nerds from a magnet school, and there were no more than 20 people at this party.
  • Although I thought/assumed I had passed the breathalyzer, I think my court papers actually claimed I had not. This was curious to me, since while I had a sip of wine, there was no way in hell I had enough alcohol in my blood to fail a breathalyzer. I also remember thinking it odd that the indicator light on the breathalyzer (it was a portable handheld unit) was red before I even blew, but hey, what did I know?
  • They brought out no less than 4 squadcars, complete with drug-sniffing dogs to sniff all the cars.
  • It turned out the mother of the girl having the party was home, but asleep, evidently. They woke her up to let her know what was going on. Cool, right? Then they took her out to the street in handcuffs. Not cool.
  • They had all of the girls handcuffed in a circle sitting in the street, for some reason, while Will and I were locked in the squadcar for several hours.
  • Out of the 6 or so cars that were parked on the street, they only towed two: mine and a friend’s. Both BMW’s. What the hell?
  • Did I mention I sat locked in a squad car for two hours without being read my rights or even told I was being detained? </ul> Anyways, it was a wild experience, and I can laugh about it now. Well, I laughed about it then, too, actually, much to the dismay of my friend Will, who was with me in the squadcar, who was totally freaking out because he actually was drunk.

    Most of the kids that got arrested opted to all use a friend’s father as their lawyer and they worked out some sort of community service deal. That wasn’t good enough for me, because I didn’t do a damn thing wrong except tell the truth. So we had a friend who was a pretty good corporate lawyer that wanted to do some criminal law for the hell of it. He was pretty excited about it, evidently, but he never got a chance.

    When we showed up for court, it was a pretty quick affair. The cops never showed up to testify and they dropped all charges, presumably because they knew that not only did they not have a case, some of us probably had grounds to take them to court.

    How could SayUncle’s advice have helped me then? Namely, this:

    1 - Keep your mouth shut. – Unfortunately, this includes even telling the truth.

    Never underestimate the power of authorities with too much time on their hands. Oh well, live and learn.