Friday nights, DUI Checkpoints and .068
When we began the process of acquiring this brewery in San Marcos some 4 years ago, I made a decision to move my family(Maureen was pregnant with Sydney and due in May of 2006) to San Marcos so that I could be closer to the brewery. We found a place that is above Cal State San Marcos University and have lived there since April of 2006. I always thought living near the brewery would be better as I wouldn’t have to drive too far to get home(especially after a couple of after work beers).
Today, I’m not so sure this place we call home is the best place for us to live. Now mind you, I love the Condo complex we live in. The neighbors are great and Sydney has access to a nice playground and pool area so these are the positives. But, the negatives are starting to gain some serious momentum as last night, I had to drive through a DUI Checkpoint on the way home from work for the 4th time since we moved to San Marcos in April 2006! Clearly, owning a brewery, drinking beers on a Friday night and “breezing home” don’t go hand in hand here in San Marcos. At least not, if you live above the University like we do and there is only one way home from the brewery.
Yesterday, my day started in Seattle, WA where I had been doing sales work. The alarm clock went off at 6AM enabling me to make my 8 AM Sales Meeting at Click Wholesale (our Washington state kick ass distribution partner). Sydney, Maureen and I then boarded a flight back to San Diego. After getting situated at home, I dropped down the hill around 4:15 to gather the mail, check on the tasting bar,meet with Mike about the past week and this weeks brewing schedule. I was enjoying a pint of SPA (Summer Pale Ale) at 5ish when Mike indicated that we were having issues with the cold box (it was almost 100F here yesterday in San Marcos) and the compressor on the roof.
So, I spent the next hour baking on the roof trying open our sky lights and getting the compressor to reset. Having successfully reset the cold box and opened the sky lights, I proceeded back to the tasting bar area to relax and grab some water. Baking in the sun trying to work on the unit in pants and a black shirt drained me pretty good.
Once I was able to cool off and relax, I had a Wipeout IPA. It tasted spot on. The next one was equal to the task. It was now about 8 PM and Sage was making the annoucement on his new Bull horn (Thanks Harbor Freight) that it was quitting time and last call. I poured a 1/2 pint of IPA and thought about getting home to my luggage and exhausted road tested family. In passing, I mentioned to Sage that it was about time for the Sheriff’s Department to set up another sweep for DUI. It has been a few months since I had seen one last on my way home. I suppose I was channeling my inner Nostradomus at this point. I actually told him I thought it would be next weekend (Labor Day) but I wouldn’t be surprised to say the least if there was one going on.
I pounded a couple of pints of water and discussed Sage’s company being named to the Forbes Top 25 Entrepeneurs list that was just published (congrats on that btw)! At around 9:30 I decided that it was time to head home to get some rest. I hadn’t had a beer in over an hour and water had been my friend in that time. I proceeded South on Twin Oaks Blvd heading towards my home when I came over the freeway rise and saw the flashing lights and orange cones of the checkpoint. And the thing about these checkpoints, is there is no way to evade them if you’re driving.
So I pointed my car towards the “Safety Zone” and steeled my nerves for what clearly was going to be a choice encounter with the law. In line, I was stopped and approached by an officer and asked for my license and registration. He asked where I had been and why I smelled like beer (“Because I own a brewery called Port Brewing that’s about a 1/2 a block from your Sheriff’s Station was my reply). I was asked to step out of the vehicle and moved to a secondary inspection area.
I submitted to a battery of field tests. I explained to the officer that I had been up since 6 AM, hadn’t eaten anything since 3 PM and given that I was wearing flip flops at the time, not likely to pass many of these “tests.” I also quite confidently felt that I was not over the legal limit and that most of my appearance and field tests results would be plagued by the weariness of the travel I had endured this day. We did the “follow my pen with your eye test.” Next we did the raise your right foot and point your toes to the sky while you count to the 30 one thousands. I made it to 10 one thousands before I had to rest my foot. I proceeded to do the next 20 one thousands reaching 30 one thousands without issue. I switched feet and standing on my right foot managed to break off 30 one thousands without issue.
The tests kept coming. I “got” to walk the line. As the officer stated the process I was supposed to do, I looked down at my feet and felt feelings of fear overcome me. I was now very deep in a battery of tests (any of which could be used against me in court) and my Mickey’s Big Mouth Flip Flops were staring at the officer. I begged indifference to the test in flip flops( seriously how stable can they be) and asked to remove them. The officer agreed and now I was barefoot. “Toes to ankles touching, please take 9 steps on this line and then pivot on one ankle and repeat all the while counting out each step.”
“One, two, three…” as I proceeded to toe the white line of the Ralph’s Grocery parking lot where the test was being administered. I reached 9 pivoted and headed back feeling as if I had done everything right (no one every tells you if you’ve passed this test or that one). At this point, I am certain that the field tests had me being more polluted than the law allows for. I on the other hand felt confidently that I wasn’t drunk. Sure I had beer on my breath and had been drinking but that doesn’t mean I had broken the law.
I was given the chance to take a “preliminary field alcohol test” with the proviso that if I didn’t blow over .08 I would be sent on my merry way. This seemed like the thing to do maintaining that I wasn’t innebriated. The officer prepped the breathalyzer and showed me the calibration of 0.00. I was then told to blow for about 8 seconds into the machine until it beeped. It did. I wasn’t shown the result. I suppose the result didn’t matter as it’s probably used for calibration. After about a 30 second rest, I repeated the process and the resulting meter came back at .068.
I had officially been given a reprieve and instructed that if I crashed on the way home, I could still be cited for DUI. I thanked the officers for their time and climbed back into my car and headed home. Being in the beer business is frought with peril. Getting behind the wheel with beer on the breath happens almost on daily basis. The difficulty is knowing with certainty where you stand relative to the “sobriety scale.” I was put through the paces last night. It was brutal. Sure I had been drinking and the officer was just doing his job. Yet, I felt helpless in that I was completely lucid (albeit wiped out from traveling) and about 3 blocks from my home.
Without a doubt, this was one of those wake up calls. Last night was not a heavy night of drinking by any stretch of the imagination. And yet, I found myself being asked to step out of a vehicle in a grocery store parking lot so I could walk the line. Though I never saw the report that the officer was working on, I am left to conclude that these tests are difficult to perform even with a beer and a half in your system. I suppose that’s the point, they’re not supposed to be easy to pass. That being said, I am left to conclude that I was probably one of a handfull of people who were plucked from their vehicles last night who performed all the tests and were let go. I slept next to Maureen last night and Sydney jumped on my head this morning @ 6:30 AM which is the way Saturday’s are supposed to be even if Friday nights, DUI Checkpoints and .068 stand between me and getting home.
Tomme’s edit: (this is from a press release the day after) It’s amazing that with all the effort that was put into this Checkpoint, no one was found arrested for DUI on this evening.
On Friday evening 08/28/2009, the San Marcos Sheriff’s Traffic Division, with cooperation from the North County Law Enforcement
Traffic Safety Council, conducted a Driving Under the Influence checkpoint at 300 South Twin Oaks Valley Road in the City of San
Marcos. This detail is part of the on-going effort by the California Office of Traffic Safety, the City of San Marcos and the Sheriff’s Traffic
Division to reduce the number of drunken driving traffic collisions and related incidents. The checkpoint was staffed by San Marcos
deputies, Senior Volunteers, Probation Department and members of the North County Law Enforcement Traffic Safety Council.
MISSION: The purpose of the operation was to raise awareness, identify and arrest drunk drivers, and allow for a safer driving
environment within the City of San Marcos. Enforcement of other California Vehicle Codes relating to seat belt violations along with
any other alcohol related or law violations.
2003 vehicles passed through the checkpoint. 525 were inspected.
There were no drivers found to be intoxicated.
7 traffic citations were issued.
2 arrests for drug possession
8 vehicles were stored due to various license and registration violations.