My first DUI (Oh boy what a night...)

Updated: May 1


One of my favorite bars, when I was out clubbing back in the day, was a pub-style joint named Deja Vu on Bishop street.

After an evening of power-drinking Jack Daniels and ginger ale, I took my leave, half-blind with alcohol, and walked out to my motorcycle, a 1989 Suzuki Tempter 650, parked right smack in front of the bar at around 1 or 2 am.

Having most likely come from another bar before I had parked the rather sizeable bike nose in, which meant I had to back it up and turn it to leave.

So in my highly inebriated state, I got on the bike, put my full-face helmet on, and proceeded for a few minutes fiddling with the key in the ignition.

While all this was going on, I had my right foot upon the bumper of a car that was right up close to the bike and, in fact, had its lights on.

As I finally got the key in and started the engine, the car I’d been resting my foot on blinked its lights a few times, which I remained impervious to, although wondering why people on the sidewalk were laughing and pointing at me.

Then that car turned on all of its flashing blue, red, and white lights and gave me a burst of its police siren.

Realizing that something was seriously amiss and that I might be in trouble, I turned off the bike and sat there motionless, hoping in my liquified brain that it might go away if I remained quiet and stood still.

A minute later, I heard a sharp knock on my helmet, and a flashlight pointed into my shut visor.

Failing to respond, a policewoman opened up my visor from the outside and sharply told me to get off my bike.

Now the fact is, as most of you might know, that to be charged with a DUI, you don’t have to actually be driving the vehicle, but the simple fact that you're on a public thoroughfare with your engine on is sufficient, a fact I would dispute unsuccessfully later.

Disembarking with some assistance while hollering that my bike would get stolen if I just left it there, a pointless argument, as you can well imagine, I was relieved of my helmet and gloves.

So off into the cop car I go, cuffless as I’m sure they had figured out by then that I couldn’t run away even if I wanted to.

Not every cop station had a breathalyzer machine in those days, and very few squad cars had any hand units.

So they drove me across town for some 30 minutes to a station in the north end of the city for the DUI test, impervious to my caterwauling and my ridiculous argument that I couldn’t see well due to having dropped a contact lens in my drink at the bar and swallowed it.

And my statement that I hadn’t driven the bike per se also fell on the deafest of ears.

Upon arriving at the station, they took my wallet, shoelaces, etc., and plopped me into a dreary cell, where the night’s binge drinking had fully caught up to me, and it was all I could do not repaint the cell with the contents of my volcanic stomach.

After an hour or so, awakened from a deep sleep and with my head ringing like the bells of Notre-Dame cathedral, I was hauled into a paddy wagon and handcuffed to another criminal who mercifully had cigarettes, mine having been lost somewhere during the night’s events.

This final drive was to the main drunk tank at the city of Montreal’s main police headquarters on Gosford street adjoining Old Montreal where on this Saturday night, or should I say Sunday morning by then, where the city’s finest drunks and drug addicts were housed in a large holding cell holding some forty or so individuals, many of whom were passed out on the single long bench or the urine-soaked floor for the less discerning.

At this point, I lined up for the wall phone for my one call.

Not having a lawyer’s number, I called my great friend Marion Howard and informed her of the situation. Due to a pile of unpaid parking tickets, I needed money to be released with an appearance date set at a further date for the DUI.

By now, it’s about 3 or 4 am, and she is not thrilled at hearing my slurring voice, to begin with, and much less once I told her I immediately needed some 2,200 dollars to settle the tickets and gain my freedom.

Now Marion, as usual, really showed her resourcefulness and contacted a shady character of our acquaintance named Steve - a dealer of the finest hash - who kept a brick of cash in his fridge.

Fortunately, Steve was at home, a rare occurrence, and Marion drove over, grabbed the required cash with a promise that I’d reimburse it within a couple of days, and proceeded to come to fetch me at the facility for wayward alcoholics where I’d landed.

To this day, I clearly remember her red-faced and scowling silently at me, having freed me, as I passed out in her car on the way home with the sun coming up.

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Excerpt from my upcoming e-book “Recollections from my time on earth” - Snackable short stories

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