One night while working graveyard patrol, I came across a white van using both lanes on the main highway. Besides weaving, it was also emitting an overbearing odor of gas. Upon stopping the driver, who we’ll call Max, I noted that he was visibly drunk and his wife was bleeding profusely from a gash in her scalp. The driver slurred badly as he explained how he’d just rolled the van and was on his way to the hospital.
I had an ambulance respond and they were both transported to the local hospital while I towed the van. The gas tank was punctured and from the damage on the van’s roof and sides, it looked like Max was telling the truth about rolling over. I had my partner Ron check the road to see where this collision occurred as I headed for the hospital to finish this investigation.

At the hospital, Max checked out okay and was released for booking. Max got a little cranky when I explained he was under felony arrest for DUI, but he sobered up some when I explained how his wife had a fractured skull and would have to be admitted to the hospital.

I asked for more details on the roll-over and Max gave a convoluted story of how a black Camaro had forced him off the road. Max said that he was driving in the outside lane when the Camaro pulled up alongside him in the inside lane. The Camaro driver had eyes “as cold as ice” and intentionally sideswiped him on his left side causing him to crash. Max veered right and ended up rolling two or three times in a field before the van miraculously righted itself onto its wheels. The Camaro disappeared and Max was en route to the hospital for his wife’s injuries when I pulled him over. I asked Max if he’d had anything to drink that night and he admitted yes, but only two beers.

Max registered a .22% BAC (blood alcohol concentration) on the intoxilyzer and after booking him into jail, I went out looking for the location of this crash. My partner found it and as dawn broke, I got my measurements and pictures. Max’s account was partly right. There were centrifugal skids where the van had left the road and clearly the vehicle had rolled at least once as indicated by the flattened bushes and torn-up weeds. A number of personal items had also been ejected from the van when it rolled over. An old toolbox, for one, and some mail addressed to Max from the IRS. From the looks of that mail, it was clear Max had at least one reason to drink. The mail established that these skids and the rollover damage were from Max’s van.

The one minor mistake in Max’s story was proven by the centrifugal skids from his van. They started in the inside lane, not the outside lane and, there was no room to drive in the center medium due to a guard rail. Upon examining the van, there was no sideswipe damage on the left side. There were no scrapes or scratches, no black paint transfer and clearly no Camaro being driven by a maniac with eyes “as cold as ice.”

Max had to bite the bullet on this one. He was not run off the road like he said and for whatever reason, he had veered hard to the right from the center inside lane, not the outside lane. Max had laid down centrifugal skids across the outside lane, onto the paved shoulder and into a field where he rolled at least once and ejected his personal mail. Max’s mail proved this was the location of his T/C (traffic collision) and a .22% BAC result proved he was DUI. The fact that Max’s wife was injured in the process made this a felony DUI T/C and this case was wrapped tight except for one thing.

It was a mystery to me how a guy who had only had two beers could be so drunk.

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