The sun has gone down and the moon has come up, and you’ve been at the festival/bar/pub/buddies house drinking a dozen tasters/a few pints/a multi-course meal with curated beer pairings/a growler of strong ale. It’s time to head home; what’s your plan?
I wanted to take a moment away from the typical beer-nerd content on the site to address an important issue: what happens when you’ve finished all the beer.
One tricky side-effect to the near endless sprawl of Los Angeles is the post-boozing return trip, and I’ve always found the cultural acceptance of driving drunk in our city pretty horrifying. Blame the vast distances that we have to cover between the nightlife spots and our residences, blame the perceived lack of public transportation, or blame the insane cost of taxi fares, but whatever the excuse there are far too many Angelenos driving drunk on any given weekend.
Over the Forth of July holiday last week over 1,000 arrests were made for Driving Under the Influence in Los Angeles during the nine days of increased enforcement from the AVOID Campaign. The average DUI arrest and conviction for a first time offender in Los Angeles can easily top $13,000, and can sore above $20,000 depending on circumstances and representation. And this is before any civil trials if there is an accident or an injury.
Even a costly cab-ride home is looking like a bargain compared to those numbers. Avoid a big surprise, and a night in jail with some forethought and by taking responsible actions.
When heading out for the evening, have a plan for how you’re getting home before you leave. And don’t fall into the trap of asking yourself if you’re okay to drive and trusting how you feel. You can be pulled over, blow higher than the 0.08 legal limit, and be cited for DUI without feeling any impairment. Especially if you’re a seasoned beer drinker with a functional tolerance built-up over a lifetime of pints. The legal limit is arbitrary and doesn’t care how you feel. It’s just too big a risk in our book. Our rule of thumb is if we expect to drink more than 1 beer an hour then we leave the keys at home and work-out an alternative plan.
Alternatives to the Sketchy Drive Home
All of these are common-sense plans, and they are all painfully obvious. While they might not be as convenient as cruising on the 101 to your destination, they are all less risky, and are worth restating here.
- Get a Designated Driver. The DD is a rare and precious thing. If you can find one, treat them well. Beyond your admiration, these unicorn-like heroes deserve to have their dinner-tab picked up. Work-our a rotation system with your friends/partner/spouse and trade-off the DD duties from event-to-event.
- Public Transportation. Yeah, it’s LA, but there is still a Metro system and an intricate network of 24-hour bus routes that can help spirit you home. (We like Google Transit for route-planning.) Plus the bus is just more fun after a few pints.
- The Heel-Toe Express. Nobody walks in LA? Hogwash. One of our favorite things about living in Hollywood is the plethora of great beer venues within walking distance.
- The Cab. The second most convenient, and second most expensive, of your alternatives. Useful for the destinations that are just out of walking distance, but often prohibitively expensive for a cross-town jaunt, the venerable taxi cab is often our option of last resort. Take some of the sting out by estimating your taxi fare with Bing Maps or Taxi Fare Finder first. Grab an app for your phone and order up a safe ride home.
- No-Tell Motel. Sometimes you just gotta make it someplace further afield for an event. Check prices on motels near your party-time destination, and make a night of it. You’ll even have a spot for the after-party already.
Just Don’t Be An Asshole
Whatever choice you make don’t choose to say “I’m fine.” and make the drive home. It’s a dick move. A DUI can ruin your life, and getting caught isn’t even the worst possible outcome of risking it. I’ve talked to several people who’ve been convicted of a DUI who didn’t feel intoxicated at all at the time of arrest, and many stories of offenders echo that fact. Don’t trust your own judgement after a couple of beers.
Play it safe and get home in one piece.