Monday, October 17, 2005

High-Class Drunk

Early yesterday morning a 23-year-old man with a 0.24 percent blood alcohol content crashed into Water Tower Place on Chicago's Michigan Avenue:
He had turned north from Chicago Avenue onto Michigan Avenue in a 1999 Audi A6 Quattro about 3:18 a.m., [police spokeswoman Patrice] Harper said. The car knocked down a traffic signal pole and skidded, hitting trees and granite planters. It flipped on its right side and stopped at the door of Lord & Taylor at 835 N. Michigan Ave., Harper said.
This was a wild crash. Reading the article, one who doesn't know the area might think the driver simply misjudged the turn or took it too fast. But there is another intersection (Pearson Street) before Water Tower Place on northbound Michigan Avenue. The driver must have turned left onto Michigan, passed the old pumping station (companion to the more famous Water Tower, both survivors of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire) , and then veered right off Michigan in the middle of the intersection with Pearson. That's when he started damaging things and racking up a long list of infractions:
He was charged with driving under the influence, screeching tires, driving left of center, speeding, negligent driving, having no insurance, driving with an expired plate and damage to city property.
It is not clear from the article where the motorist was "driving left of center" since he ended up too far right of center. Perhaps it was while making the turn. In any case, the scene must have been a hot topic for Magnificent Mile shoppers on a beautiful autumn Sunday. Imagine surveying the damage and trying to figure out what happened--no bonus points for guessing that alcohol was involved. Here is a local news broadcast of the story that ends with that unsurprising fact.

Maybe there's something wrong with me, but if I had an expired plate and no insurance, I would be a little more careful about breaking traffic laws, and I sure wouldn't get buzzed to three times the legal limit before getting behind the wheel. Oddly enough, many people don't think that way. I don't have statistics, but I know from talking to police officers that a good number of DUI violators also have expired licenses, expired plates, and/or no insurance (not to mention those with suspended licenses, sometimes from prior DUI convictions).

At least this driver had the panache to finish his intoxicated journey in front of Lord & Taylor, which is more memorable and dignified than hitting a pawn shop or a liquor store. I doubt that will help him in court, though.

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