Monday, 11 January 2016

Types of drunk drivers

A sad fact about my job is that I see more than my fair share of drunk drivers.  I am constantly stunned that so many people have the audacity to drive impaired, putting themselves and everyone around them at risk.  In the United States alone (drunk driving statistics are easiest to find there), over 10,000 people died in 2013 due to drunk driving accidents.  Yet people continue to drink heavily and then get into their cars despite the fact that they can barely keep their eyes open, and they continue to provide endless work (and frustration) for me and my colleagues around the world.

Most of the time my reaction to a drunk driver is either 1) anger that this idiot put my wife and children and everybody else in the community at risk by his overriding stupidity, carelessness, and thoughtlessness or 2) well actually, there is no #2.  It's just pure, unadulterated, undiluted anger.  However, one of my 2016 New Years resolutions is to try thinking rather than seething, and in doing so I have already noticed something interesting - drunk people are not all created equally.  This may not come as a surprise to anyone else who actually uses his brain (unlike me sometimes), but I've discovered that drunk drivers come in five very different, and very distinct flavours.

1. The belligerent asshole
This is the guy who comes in angry, stays angry, and leaves angry.  Even though he came in smelling like a pub floor covered in stale whiskey and vomit, if anyone dares insinuate that he's been drinking, he will fling obscenities with reckless abandon.

"WHO THE FUCK SAID THAT?  COME HERE AND SAY THAT TO MY FUCKING FACE!  I AM NOT DRUNK, YOU FUCKING FUCK!  I'LL KICK YOUR ASS!  COME HERE AND I'LL KICK YOUR ASS!  FUCK YOU, ASSHOLE!"

THESE PATIENTS ARE ALWA . . . ahem, excuse me.  Sorry.  These patients are always an absolute pleasure to care for and I look forward to making sure they are happy and healthy before they leave me.  The joy I get at ducking to avoid another wad of spittle that has been flung my way is rather indescribable.

Approximately 15% fall into this insufferable category.

2. The crier
These people come in acting relatively normal, but as the minutes tick by, reality comes crashing down on them, especially if they are unlucky enough to have actually hurt anyone else in their own car or someone else's (or the grandmother crossing the street).  At that point they begin sobbing uncontrollably and are usually completely inconsolable.  They often moan and sob about the tickets they are sure to get, losing their licence to drive, or ending up in jail.  Unfortunately they generally aren't upset that they screwed up, but instead they just feel sorry for themselves.  In short they generally make everyone in the trauma bay just as despondent as they.

Approximately 35% fall into this miserable category.

3. The silent type
I must admit that this is my favourite type of drunk driver, because they are quiet.  Whether it is concussion-related or otherwise, they sit quietly on the stretcher, allowing us to complete our workup, rarely making a sound.  They answer questions, often simply nodding 'yes' or shaking their head 'no', and the trauma bay remains a serene environment.  Ah, serenity now.

Approximately (and sadly) only 10% fall into this lovely category.

4. The obnoxious flirt
These are mostly men, but I've seen many women who fall into this category as well.  They don't seem to care how much they are slurring their speech or how much drool and/or vomit they have on their chin and/or shirt.  They also seem oblivious to the fact that while they obviously think they look like Brad Pitt, in reality they look more like William Pitt.  These distasteful people will mercilessly hit on nurses, doctors, techs, maintenance staff, or random pieces of medical equipment if it strikes their fancy.  You have no idea how sexy an IV pole can look at 2 AM if looked at just the right way, and neither did I until a rather soused patient told me so.

Approximately 15% fall into this arrogant category.

5. The happy, clueless twit
These poor idiots apparently believe that alcohol magically transmogrifies them into Eddie Murphy (that's the 1980's "Beverly Hills Cop" Eddie Murphy, not the 2000's "Pluto Nash" Eddie Murphy, of course).  They fail to understand that being laughed at is not necessarily a good thing.  In reality, their jokes are rarely funny to anyone but them, and this results in the entire department looking like this:







Approximately 20% fall into this occasionally-amusing, though often derisive category.

Those of you doing the math may have noticed that these five categories only add up to 95%.  I've reserved that remaining 5% for the "other" category:
  • sober drunks, those who behave so well you can't really tell they are drunk
  • "I'm not drunk" drunks, idiots who flatly refuse to admit to having had anything to drink at all, even when confronted with a blood alcohol level ("YOUR LAB MUST HAVE MIXED UP THE BLOOD SAMPLES!").  These can sometimes turn into the belligerent asshole.
  • non drunks, people who act drunk but somehow have no alcohol or any other substance in their system
So there you have it.  Regardless of the type, I derive a certain grim satisfaction whenever I see the police give these people the stack of tickets they earned.  There may be other types out there, but I can't think of them at the moment.  Perhaps some readers can chime in with other types I may have inadvertently left out.  It's time for me to keep one of my other 2016 New Years resolutions: yoga.

Just kidding.

29 comments:

  1. Thankfully I've not met many people who would drive when at/over the legal limit, but since the types you describe apply to drunk people who I drop by their home as a DD, or the drunk person I would make sure to get away from at a party, there is one I can add:

    "Your very best friend"
    It doesn't matter if you've known them forever or for a minute, they will come up to you, amicably throw their arm around your shoulders (to stabilize themselves), put their mouth up right to your ear and "whisper" something about secrets and conspiracy theories. Usually, if you can't manage to duck out of under their arm in time, they will try to bump you up for money since you are friends and all.

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  2. Here's a category that made news recently:

    http://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/woman-beats-dui-rap-claim-body-brews-alcohol-36017912

    Who knew such a thing existed?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There was a case in New Mexico 20-25 years ago. A state legislator argued he had just eaten a large lunch and that caused him to be drunk. Accident wasn't even his fault but he got checked at scene.

      Delete
  3. I missed the dead/nearly dead category...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They would be in category 3, the silent type. It doesn't get any more silent than dead.

      Or, as a friend of mine said when he moved right next to a grave yard: the flowers are nice and the neighbors are quiet.

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    2. I actually work at a cemetary, your friends right, the folks are real quiet and respectful, so I try to be quiet and respectful back

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  4. Doc, I am curious, is either gender worse to treat when drunk? If you have to deal with a drunk, would you rather it be a man or woman? I have been annoyed by both drunk men and women, but have found men more difficult to deal with... say when you are trying to take their keys away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Men are invariably worse by a parsec.

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    2. From my experience, women just get more and more sloppy the more drunk they get, until they vomit and fall asleep bundled up in some corner.
      Men, on the other hand, are much more energetic drunks. Which is probably why more of them end up in the driver's seat of some vehicle.

      Delete
  5. You forgot Affluenza.

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  6. The know it all drunk . They interrupt conversations with facts that are wrong , but they swear they are right .

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  7. some time ago, I rolled on a MVA (Motor Vehicle Accident)
    first hint I had that something interesting was going on. the vehicle occupant who flagged me down at the scene - (turned out to be the right seat passenger)told me, straight up, "Alcohol is involved."
    "well, that was nice of him to say that" I thought since I could then say without prejudice that I had been made aware alcohol was involved.
    next I went down to there the vehicle had come to rest. there I found the driver standing beside the vehicle, and the third occupant in the back seat.
    (nag for the day. the driver and right seat passenger had been wearing seat belts, the third occupant HAD BEEN sitting between them in the front, but not seat belted, before the accident. after the accident the occupant was in the back seat in enough pain to warrant full immobilization. the term we use for the process is "getting washing machined" those who use front loading washing machines may get the reference. wear your seat belt.)
    our police officer arrived shortly after we had gotten the passenger who hadn't been wearing a seat belt loaded into the ambulance to send to the ER; and the driver said "well I guess I'd better go talk to the officer"

    now what makes this different besides the driver being conscientious? the driver passed the field sobriety test with flying colors. the driver was not legally intoxicated.
    the alcohol that caused the accident was in the center seat passenger, who had distracted the driver and caused the accident.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So it wasn't about a drunk driver type, then.

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    2. drunk backseat driver. sort of.

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    3. One time in Philadelphia, when I was in college, I found a girl pukey drunk sitting on the curb. Since it was freezing cold and she was under-dressed, I flagged down a cab and tried to take her to her home.

      She told the cabbie someplace well south of the center of town. As the cab proceeded down Broad Street at 45 mph, she leaned forward and put her hands over the driver's eyes.

      Delete
    4. I got stopped once at about 2am because the exhaust was falling off my car and it was making a terrible noise. I rather thought things might go badly for me because my brother was also busy throwing-up in the passenger seat at the time (he'd had a beer too many).
      Oddly, when the policeman asked what was up I just said that he'd had a beer too many and was sent on my way with a stern injunction to have the car fixed ASAP. I thought, given the circumstances, I would have got a breath-test at least. Obviously I was stone-cold sober, but even so!

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    5. I've had equipment stops around 2 AM. the police can usually tell pretty well whether the alcohol is on the driver's breath or the passenger's.

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    6. @ Jonathan - Sometimes worse stuff happens when we try to "help" a drunk than if we'd left the situation alone.

      A few years ago, in my city, police on routine patrol in the wee hours of the morning saw a very drunk young woman staggering around outdoors. It was a very cold winter night (subzero temps, plus serious wind chill too), and she was wandering the streets in just a tank top and skirt. So, they figured they'd see if they might be able to get her safely home as an alternative to perhaps finding her frozen remains somewhere on the street at the end of their shift. She was quite impaired, but able to tell them her story (argument with a guy who'd picked her up at a bar, so she'd left her coat behind when leaving his place), and her home address. They got her into the back seat of the squad car, where she laid down and passed out, and when they got to her place, they were able to wake her up, but she said she'd need help getting up the stairs to her apartment on the third floor. One of the officers went to escort her (fortunately, she still had her purse and was able to find her keys), so he got her safely in the door and sat her down, and closed the door when leaving. Job well done? NOT.

      Two days later, both officers were summoned by their commander and taken off patrol pending an "investigation." Seems our drunk girl had talked to a neighbor the next day, and gotten the idea that she could make some big money by claiming the officers had sexually assaulted her in her apartment! Fortunately, they were exonerated, but what a hassle for them, and stress to their families (both officers were married, with no previous complaints against them). Sometimes it *does* seem that no good deed goes unpunished :(

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  8. What about the ones who fell asleep while driving simply due to pushing their body's limits? They can cause a huge amount of damage and are clearly at fault, do they fall into the drunk driving categories or do you have a special coloumn for them?

    Just curious.

    Wednesday

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. the one who wrecked my first car for me was of the "I wasn't in an accident" variety.

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    2. I agree - that's a good question for Doc, anonym at 1:39.

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    3. Those folks are in a separate category - drowsy drivers. They can be just as impaired as drunk drivers and cause just as much mayhem.

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    4. Do they also react to what happened in the same manners as the drunk drivers? Well, hopefully minus Category 5 anyway. I figure there is always someone who practices Category 4 even when they haven't tied on a few.

      Wednesday

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    5. No, they tend to act fairly normally.

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  9. Then there are the ones who are NOT drunk, but have the inability to process what happened as though they are drunk. We once had a woman come in, screaming at us to let her go to check her on her "baby" (her car). She created a huge fuss and and would try to swing at anyone, despite being apprehended by cops. Little did she know her stupidity (she was the one in the wrong) pretty much ruined the life of five teenagers. Three had minor injuries, while one was a bleed, and another was transferred out to trauma. Drunk drivers are indeed pathetic, but this one lady is worse than all of them combined.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. She does sound awful, but minor injuries and a bit of bleeding don't sound as life-ruining as, say, death or a major neck injury.

      I am surprised there isn't a category for utter disbelief. I don't ever drink-drive but if I caused a major incident for any reason I can easily imagine finding the whole situation almost unbelievable. Possibly also frustrating if I had caused someone to be hurt and was unable to help (which would be quite likely).

      Ugi

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    2. I suspect referring to it as "a bleed" implies it was worse than minor.

      I do see all the reactions on the spectrum out on responses - including one who got out of jail for drunk driving, went to a bar, got drunk, and rammed a sheriff's deputy while trying to drive home, then left the scene and tried to call a cab from another bar.

      my inclination would be to classify that as a "slow learner"

      Delete
  10. My friends, unfortunately I have been arrested for driving drunk. I will never do it again.

    Now I only walk drunk. Possibly ride my bike drunk.

    Anytime I enjoy alcohol, I remember my freedom taken away.

    The cold hard slap of hand-cuffs with an extra PD twist, the whores, the addicts, the neer- do- wells in jail, the obscenity spouting Sheriffs, the cash penalties, the drunk classes, the picking up trash on the freeway, the letters....

    This is America! As long as I don't hit anybody, I may walk around drunk! I may phone Uber!

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  11. well, at least you learned the not driving part.

    ReplyDelete

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