Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DUI on Santa Monica Blvd. circa 1996

The 20th anniversary of a famous trial verdict reminds me of an incident that occurred about a year later. I had just left a friend’s house after watching Evander Holyfield knock Mike Tyson around on PPV and I guess I was feeling my oats. Driving home on Santa Monica Boulevard in my VW Rabbit, I began to feel encroached upon by an erratic driver in a small white sedan. The situation became more irritating through Century City as the driver would speed up, cut me off, change lanes, stop at a green light; then charge through the red as I approached.

The sedan stopped behind a long back-up at Beverly Glen Blvd. so I was able to pull up alongside. Inside were two black men in the front seat and a third in the back. I signaled the passenger to roll down his window. When he did, I ordered the driver to cut in front of me and pull over to the curb across the intersection.
Somewhat hesitantly, the sedan moved to the curb lane and gradually came to a stop as I followed behind. Following standard TV Police Show procedure, I left my vehicle and approached the driver. I told him to turn off the ignition and give me the keys. I ordered the driver and his front seat passenger out of the car and to step to the sidewalk. The guy in the back seat, it appeared, had fallen asleep.

Under questioning, I found that these were three young men from the American south, seriously soused, who had come to L.A. seeking a good time. I could tell the driver was too drunk to drive so I explained that his erratic driving was about to lead to an accident or, at least, the lockup, and I could not let them proceed. The passenger, however, indicated that he was not seriously under the influence so, since I was tired and wanting to get home and felt I had shaken them up enough, I gave him the car keys and suggested they stop up ahead for some fast food and coffee.
As he started to get behind the wheel, the replacement driver asked if he could have a hug. I okayed it, and the late night motorists in Westwood were treated to the sight of a big Black man and old White guy embracing in the street.

I got back into my car, but the original driver jumped out of the car and came to my window. “I need a hug, too,” he said, and reached in to hug me.
I told him to have fun but drive safe. He told me he would do that, and added that, though the trial was over and the verdict was now history, he wanted me to know he thought O.J. did it. So I went home.

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