Wednesday, October 12, 2005

35 mcg/100 ml

So, we sat in the police car, and they gave me lots more instructions, explanations, and a summary of what I’d been up to (driving 35 mph in a 60 mph zone.) A guy friend of mine said, “Gosh, E, that’s just plain embarrassing. Too SLOW? You might think of changing that when your book gets published....!” Mmmm, yup. Thanks, Mike! Any and all assistance eagerly accepted at this point!

The officers were so polite. It even felt like they were going to Woking Police Station via the long way, maybe giving me a little more time to bring my blood alcohol level down? Somehow I knew it wasn’t going to be enough time, in the end.

We drove up to the Woking police yard, got out, went into the waiting area. It was a cement block room with wooden benches around the perimeter of the room. A whole bunch of arrested persons, and their police escorts, ranged around the space. Waiting for Godot, in Woking.

“Could be a while, Madam. Would you like to sit down?”

“No thank you, I’m fine, sir.” Might as well start doing my penance early. “But I AM parched... could I please have a glass of water?”

“No, I’m sorry, Madam. You won’t be able to have anything to eat or drink until after your tests.” Right. That plan, to dilute my blood alcohol level, was out the window.

We stood there for 20 minutes, which I was thankful for -- more time passing. Finally, ushered in to the inner sanctum. More explanations, papers to sign, a thousand questions. They took my money, phone and ID, and put them in a sealed plastic bag.

And took my two necklaces. The woman officer said, “In case you want to, you know, ....” And she made a cross-eyed “hanged” face, yanking up an imaginary noose. Nawwww, I don’t think I’m going to be bothering to hang myself today. Too much trouble, besides, I have to get Aphrodite to her exam tomorrow morning. Carpool duty always takes first priority! Kill yourself later, if you still want to, AND if you still have the time, before the afternoon school run.)

Then, “Do you want us to call you a solicitor? Do you understand the charges? Would you like us to call someone else for you?” Hmmm, that last is a tough one. Which of my close friends do I want to wake up at 1 o’clock in the morning with this dumb news? No, I’ll pass.

“No. Yes. No.” Actually, I should have had them call a solicitor, because as it works out, you can only scare up a solicitor on the weekend WHILE YOU’RE IN CUSTODY, UNDER ARREST. I thought I’d deal with a lawyer later, or maybe even not, since I was pretty clearly guilty. But it would have been wiser to call in the duty solicitor. Because it’s too easy to continue to make even more stupid mistakes while in custody. Fortunately I was “calm, quiet, and cooperative” according to my police record. Just like always. (DON’T object, now, ANY of you!!!)

Then, into the interview room. You’re videotaped, and audio-taped as well. Two tapes in a sealed package go into the dual tape drive. It’s just like Prime Suspect. Great. I’m acting in my own stupid story. Blinkin’ American Idjit. Why couldn’t I have had Helen Mirren’s role instead? DCI Jane Tennant? Drat and phooey.

Finally, the breath test. Actually two. You get two tries. They count the lower reading. If you’re under 35 micrograms of alcohol/100 ml of breath, you go free. If you’re between 35 and 50, you move on to phase 2, where you can request a blood test. If you’re over 50, it’s no contest -- we’ll see you in court, man. My low test reading was 48/100. (The other was 50). Not brilliant. Not escapable either. No way a blood test was going to change things, so I declined it. (Ordinarily, it would be wise to take that option, because it takes 6-8 weeks to process your blood sample... and that’s 6-8 weeks you get to keep your license, before you lose it for a year. However, I was flying back to Jo’burg on Monday night, and didn’t want to have to fly back again in 6 weeks just to go to court and accomplish the inevitable.)

So, failed the test. Twice. Now I was going to NOT pass go, and ... YES, go to jail.

But first, fingerprinted with a cool high-tech fingerprint reader. Much cooler than getting prints done with the ol’ ink pad, as I did just two months ago in Bracknell for my criminal background check. (That was for my upcoming South African visa application. Fortunate timing, really, that I did that before this arrest. Gadfry.)

Next, DNA sample from inside your cheeks .... brush brush brush... now your genetic makeup is on file in the national database. Oh, and now, help yourself to all the water you’d care to drink from the water cooler over there...... Gosh, thanks, Officer.

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