How it all began
I had a couple of beers with some friends at a bar along Beach Road. Christmas was around the corner, the festive mood had set in and spirits were high.
Now when I say "a couple of beers", I probably had like 5 standard glasses (if we're being specific).
I left the bar around 11.30pm to head to another location to meet a different group of friends.
These are just some of the phrases I told my friends before getting into my car.
I was young-er, carefree, ignorant and stupid. And I got caught.
Why so stupid?
The reasons that I used to convince myself that drink driving was okay seem pretty dumb to me today .
1. If I met a girl, I could impress her with my car and driving skills even though I was intoxicated
2. I felt like I could save money by driving by wasting money on a taxi or private hire
3. You don’t have to “fight” with hundreds of other people trying to get a taxi or private hire car at the same time as you
4. It’s easier and convenient to go to the next drinking location
How I got caught drink driving
My other appointment was somewhere in the West.
I didn’t think that there would be a roadblock set up before 12 midnight! Or at least, not along the usual route I took. I was wrong.
When you see a roadblock after drinking, let me tell you that it’s one of the worst combinations of feelings (easily top 10) you’ll ever feel as a person.
The gut-wrenching fear, the sweaty palms, the increased heart rate and adrenaline all hits you at once. On top of the buzz you're feeling from the alcohol, that's one #$%^$% up emotional cocktail that no one should go through.
Roadblocks are strategically placed so that you have no where to run. You can try and do a 3-point turn and drive against traffic but you'll still get caught eventually (those motorbikes are fast).
If you’re unfortunate enough to get the iconic “Asian flush” (like I do) after drinking, there’s nowhere you can hide.
I tried to mask the smell of alcohol by lighting up a cigarette, but the officer did not buy it one bit.
What you should do
The standard question they will ask:
“Sir? Have you been drinking?”
You have 2 choices right there n then; lie or tell the truth.
If you lie and they find out that you’ve been drinking after conducting an alcohol breath test, you’ll be handcuffed and brought away, no questions asked.
If you tell them the truth (like I did), they’ll give you the decency of not handcuffing you, but you’ll still get sent to lock up if you fail the breath test.
The police will then ask if there’s anyone who can drive your car away or they will tow it somewhere.
I managed to find a couple of SOBER friends who did me a solid and took my car for me.
What happened next was probably the longest 8 to 9 hours of my life.
- I had a "free taxi ride" to the Police Station in Ubi
- I was processed and thrown into a holding cell
- I needed to use the toilet, but they sent a guard with me to ensure I didn’t drink any water (I’ll get to this in a bit)
- I had to wait for 5 to 6 hours before an Investigating Officer (IO) saw me
- I was only released 1 to 2 hours after my “interview” with the IO
Alcohol Breath Test
If you fail the breath test at the roadblock, the Police will conduct another one while you’re in lock up. Think of that as your second chance. If you pass, you will probably get a warning and they'll let you go.
The reason why they assigned a guard to follow me to the toilet was so that I wouldn’t drink tap water to lower my alcohol percentage in my breath. I even contemplated drinking toilet bowl water, but the thought of that (even today), is still a disgusting one.
It’s no surprise that I failed the second alcohol breath test (my reading was 51ug). The prescribed limit is 35 microgrammes (ug) per 100 millimetres (ml) of breath.
Drink Driving Penalties
Between 35 – 54 ug: $1,000 to $2,000 in fines, and a driving ban of 12 to 18 months
Between 55 – 69 ug: $2,000 to $3,000 in fines, and a driving ban for 18 to 24 months
Between 70 – 89 ug: $3,000 to $4,000 in fines, and a driving ban for 24 to 36 months
At least 90 ug: $4,000 to $5,000 in fines, and a driving ban for 36 to 48 months or longer
*Applicable to first-time offenders only
I had to appear in court sometime in January 2018, and I got hit with a $2000 fine and a driving ban of 18 months (the maximum punishment for people within the 1st tier).
The worst thing about having a driving ban of more than 11 months is that you will have to retake EVERYTHING!
Your Basic Theory, Final Theory and Practical Driving Test. Include the $2000 fine, and you’re paying a lot of money for your stupidity. Should have just paid the $15 for a cab right?
I hope by writing this, I will be able to dissuade people from drink driving and not make the same costly (not to mention, dangerous) mistake I made.
Thanks for reading and drive safe!