Late Night Weirdness

This morning (early, early morning after the end of my shift) I was making the usual commute when something unusual happened: I helped get a drunk driver off the road.

In one section of my drive there’s about 1.5 miles of straight four-lane undivided street, which I know really, really well from driving twice a day every shift for three years.  Tonight I noticed something odd: a car stopped in the road ahead, and that it was stopped in the oncoming lanes of traffic.  As I rolled up, progressively decelerating, the car was stationary, with one or two cars passing the stopped car slowly, then speeding up.

As I came to a stop, next to but just a little behind the car I saw a man, chin on chest, breathing.  ‘Well, there’s an interesting sight’, thought my inner monologue.  Inner monologue continues: ‘I should honk the horn and see if he wakes up’.  ‘Bad idea: if he’s drunk and passed out, he could wake up and drive away, and maybe hit somebody’.  ‘OK, I’ll call the cops’.  That took about 3 milliseconds.   I think fast, if not always clearly.

"This is the Fort Worth 911 center.  If this is an emergency, please stay on the line and your call will be answered".  Heard that twice, then the 911 operator.  "I am sitting next to a car stopped in oncoming traffic at (location).  The driver looks like he’s either asleep or dead".  (I was pretty sure he was alive, but not taking chances).  I gave the cars’ license plate number.

There followed some questions about the location, asking for more details.  I was rattled enough I forgot that if I pushed the GPS in my car it would have spit out a street address immediately.  Lesson learned, but too late.

Another vehicle slows and passes the stopped car, oncoming, then drives off.  Probably relieved someone else was there, like I would have been relieved and driven on had another car been there when I’d rolled up.

FW PD comes up, circles us, then stops to warn oncoming traffic, in front of the errant car.  I then got out and approached.  "I’m a doctor, but wasn’t going near him without some help" I said, and realized caution has become part of me.  Not terribly macho, but maybe a good way to live a long life.  A second officer arrives, and they took charge immediately.  The first one to the car determines the driver isn’t going to awaken to a flashlight beam, reached in and put the car in park, and then turned off the engine and removed the keys.

Together they opened the car door, and started to pull the driver out, awakening him.  There was a brief, purposeless struggle, and handcuffs were applied.  The driver was then taken to a patrol car as EMS rolled up.

To say the EMS crew was surprised to see me there is a modest understatement (embarrassingly, they know my name but I don’t know theirs).  The police and EMS had this well under control when I asked the nice officers if they needed anything from me, and they said no (which I thought odd; didn’t they need a statement or something?), so I got into my car and drove home, carefully.

I detest drunk drivers.  I have to professionally care for them but I don’t like them.  I’m more then a little glad this one is locked up.


  1. I’m a stranger just passing by but it strikes me you were working after work. Just more of the same! In whatever case, I liked the story and DD bug the hell out of me as well. It’s not just other people’s lives the wreck. Kill someone on the road, and your life goes too.

  2. You did good GruntDoc, glad to hear that there is one less drunken jackass on the road.

  3. Thank you for taking action.

    I can’t say for sure about your local LEO’s, but before I retired, If I had a citizen do the right thing and I was not going to louse up a case by leaving him out of the report, I would let him leave w/o getting info. This was done so that the citizen would not wind up like me, sitting in court and missing work or his days off for nothing.

    Thanks again.

  4. Aah, that makes sense. I think they had plenty of case without me, and knew that. Thanks for the explanation, and for your service.

  5. You’re awesome. Thanks for doing that. I don’t think many people would have. (I don’t know that I would have). And, forget macho: sounds like you made the exact right decision not to approach.

  6. Found this post via Grand Rounds.

    Isn’t it nice to get a chance to practice preventive medicine sometimes?

  7. Righteous bust, doc. Score one for the forces of truth and justice.


  8. I dunno what they do in Texas, but in my town they would’ve taken him to a hospital for a blood warrant and if he was half as obtunded as you described they would’ve left him for treatment.

    Emergency rooms here have become de facto drunk tanks. Any drunk who can walk half straight is released with a summons, and without his car. The others are left in my care.

    I don’t particularly care for drunks, driving or not.