Years ago I was watching one of the endless streams of legal dramas flashing across my television. The story revolved around a man who had been drinking and then got into an accident. He immediately called his lawyer, who asked him if he had a bottle in the trunk, then advised him to immediately start drinking from it. By the time the police arrived on the scene, it would be impossible (or at least difficult) to ascertain whether he was already drunk when he was driving or whether he had, as he was claiming, just taken a drink to calm his nerves after the accident. I don't remember what show it was, but I'd better dollars to donuts Tracy Garon saw the same episode.
59-year-old Garon was driving his '73 Rolls-Royce (a Phantom VI or Silver Shadow from the looks of things) through Pinellas Park, FL (don't pretend that you didn't expect it was Florida...), when he ran a red light, struck a Mercury Grand Marquis and killed its 81-year-old driver. While police were investigating the scene, Garon walked into a nearby convenience store, bought a 24-ounce can of Miller Lite and started drinking. When the officer saw him with the beer, he tried to confiscate it as evidence, but Garon spilled it out instead. The logic, Garon reasoned, was that – like the case in that legal drama – the police wouldn't be able to tell if he was drunk already or if the beer he drank after exiting the car put him over the top.

The police had a different idea, though. They tested his blood alcohol level once every hour, recording 0.25, 0.23 and 0.23 – all about three times the legal limit. If it had been the beer that had put him over the top, his blood alcohol level would have spiked and then returned to normal. The consistency of the readings indicated that he had been drinking heavily over an extended period of time and not, as he claimed, drank a small glass of wine and taken a swig of light beer. The findings were apparently enough for police and prosecutors to continue pressing the case. Garon pled guilty to DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide and was sentenced this past June to 17 years in prison.

In a similar case (represented by the same Clearwater lawyer, no less) another driver in Florida was returning home from a Christmas party in St. Petersburg when she was pulled over near her home, into which she fled and started drinking before the second unit with the breathalyzer kit could arrive. She later emerged from her home in her pajamas, having ingested alcohol inside and refused the breathalyzer. She was arrested and negotiated a plea bargain that reduced her DUI to reckless driving.

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