Officer Alex explains how science makes DUI a very bad idea
It was exactly where dispatch said it would be so it was easy to find…but it’s always easy to spot a car when it’s upside down.
According to the initial callers, tonight’s customer had been zigzagging over two different lanes of travel, but it wasn’t until he added the sidewalk to his travel itinerary that things went south. (Literally.)
Have you ever paid attention to those metal wires that lead from the top of the utility pole down to the ground at a fairly steep angle? It turns out, they’re tough. Really tough. And when zigging instead of zagging, you run the risk of running up on that little wire where it will use your tires as a guide to keep you on track. For a little while, anyway.
I must have seen this a dozen times, cars hitting wires and instead of a snapped phone pole, you see an inverted car.
It’s physics, you see. Despite the momentum of a car, a small car like our client’s 2004 Elantra in particular, the tensile strength of that wire is such that it will redirect that momentum straight up along its path, and it will continue to do so until you run out of the aforementioned momentum and finally slow to a stop.
That’s when physics also reminds you that half your car is suspended in air by a stunningly resilient piece of cable, but the other half is not. The other half that is not now returns to the ground and the half that is secured by the cable works as a pivot and to make what is becoming a nauseatingly long story short, the bottom of your car now begins becomes the top of your car (depending on your perspective).
So as we arrive, we see a gentleman standing before this car in its unnatural position, its headlights casting strange shadows on buildings in the distance, and he is as cool as a cucumber. Partly because it was 31 degrees that night, and partly because he was drunk. (Only one of these was a contributing factor in the crash, as the report would later reveal.)
He was wearing a thin Western-style long-sleeve shirt, the cuffs flipped up one time, his hands in the pockets of fashionably faded jeans. He stood there casually as if he hadn’t also urinated on himself in the confines of those jeans, but while I have not experienced this phenomenon personally (I expect this to be widely doubted), no matter how hard you try, it’s really hard to hide the fact that you’ve pissed on yourself. Even when you’re standing on a pile of ice cubes. Had I mentioned that?
The cooler in which he had been storing tonight’s refreshments was a few feet away, its contents deposited all over the roadway. People can try to conceal the smell of alcohol on their breath with a mint, and they can say that you may smell it, but they have not had a drink in hours…but concealing the fact you’ve been blowing your brains out drinking all night when you smell of it, you’ve peed on yourself, and there are freshly broken bottles of excellent Mexican beer mixed in with the ice cubes in an area the size of a regulation soccer goal? Oh, and your car’s upside down.
A child-size coat, pink, was next to an empty car seat in the roadway as well.
“Is there a baby in the car?” I inquired while pointing at the seat and coat. “No,” he said. “Are you OK? Do you need an ambulance?” I proceeded. “No.”
And after a visual inspection of the car and the immediate area (for the potential of a child being in there despite his answer) and verifying he was unharmed, I asked him, “Is that your urine on your pants, or is it someone else’s?”
He cocked his head in response and began to slowly sway, his confusion hitting his inability to maintain his balance because his hands were in his pockets head-on, just as he hit that guide wire scant moments ago. And so, he fell.
It’s physics, you see?