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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Archive for June 2011

DUI: A skeleton in your closet… Or grave (Part 2)

B=Brandon
M=Maury

B-Why did you ask me to interview you about your DUI?

M=Because it just about ruined my life. I want people to know how bad it is to get a Dooey. 

B-Do you feel like you deserved a DUI?

M-I still don’t know. I didn’t think I was drunk at the time, I really thought I was fine to be driving. 

B-Set the scene, how did you wind up behind the wheel? 

M-It was St. Patrick’s Day. I wanted to go see a band I like at an Irish bar in Kirkland. 

B-Going to Kirkland to have a good time was your first mistake.

M-Normally you’d be right, but this band has a guy that plays an electric violin and he shreds on it like an electric guitar.

B-I think I’m still right. Were you dancing around, acting crazy and doing shots of whiskey like Shia LaBeouf? 

M-No, the band wasn’t there for some reason so my buddy and I decided to leave. 

B-How much did you drink?

M-Three Guinness’s each.

B-Over what period of time?

M-I dunno really. Maybe an hour. We were thinking about staying for the show and then the show never happened. It threw us off. 

B-I was going to say I thought you hate Guinness..

M-I do, but it was a drink special for St. Paddy’s. I think that’s what made me blow over the limit. It’s a heavier beer than I usually drink when I’m out. 

B-Were you swerving, how did you get pulled over?

M-First of all, there were cops everywhere looking for drunk drivers because everyone is supposed to party hard on Paddy’s Day, right? 

B-Yup. 

M-I’m not stupid. I knew there were lots of cops out around the bars, but I felt fine. I wasn’t worried about it all. I got pulled over for going like 40mph on a road that goes from a 25mph speed limit to 35mph before it switches to 35mph. 

B-And the cop thought you were drunk?

M-I think he just assumed it. I argued with him and asked him why he was asking me to do sobriety tests which probably wasn't a good idea. I asked him if he thought I was drunk and he said he thought I might be close or something like that. Then he said that if I blew close to the limit he would just let me leave my car and take a taxi home. 

B-Obviously it didn’t turn out that way. 

M-I blew a 0.89.

Maury’s car was impounded. At the police station he was charged with a DUI and released. From there the financial buggering began:

-Car retrieval from impound: $250
-Good lawyer: $5,000
-Court Fines: $1,500 
-DUI Victims Panel & 8-hour class - $100
-Alcohol Evaluation - $100
-SR22 Auto insurance (Required for three years): Doubled his original rate
-Ignition Interlock Device
Installation - $100
Monthly Service (x3) - $100
Removal $100
Etc.

(Costs are close estimates)

Maury’s lawyer reduced the DUI charge to negligent driving. A year of probation later his record was cleared and his life savings were nearly decimated.

M-I think the whole thing probably cost me close to ten-thousand dollars or something like that. The worst part though was that my job at the time had me making deliveries in a company truck. When they took my normal license away during the (court) hearings my work fired me. 

B-This all sounds incredibly depressing.

M-It was one of the worst couple months of my life. I’m still pretty broke from it.

B-And cheap. You still owe me gas money from that trip to Bellingham.

M-(Comment flagged and removed)

B-What’s your message to people reading this regarding the whole ordeal?

M-Just don’t even try it. It doesn’t matter whether you’re drunk or not… There were people in the class I had to take that got arrested for blowing under the limit. If you drink at all and a cop wants to **** you over he can; it’s his word against yours.

B-But were there people in the class that you thought deserved to be there?

M-Oh yeah. A few of them literally blacked out behind the wheel. They could have killed someone. I never did anything like that, but it doesn’t matter. The point is you just shouldn’t try it. It’s true what they say, ‘You could pay for a lot of taxi rides with ten-thousand dollars.’ 

Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. 

Thanks for sharing, Maury. I’m glad you’re not Ryan Dunn.

DUI: A skeleton in your closet… Or grave (Part 1)

 

Jackass star Ryan Dunn is dead. Pictures taken and posted to the internet shortly before he got behind the wheel of his Porsche 911 GT3 June, 20th show him enjoying what appears to be a tasty alcoholic beverage with several friends, one of which wound up in Dunn’s passenger seat and died alongside him in the wreck. 

Although alcohol has not yet been confirmed as a contributing factor to the accident, it doesn’t take a Columbo (RIP Peter Falk) to theorize that Dunn went out for drinks with his buddies and then drove his super-Porsche too fast on a rural Pennsylvania road. 

One thing led to another and the next picture that appeared on the internet of Dunn’s last night was a mangled piece of metal being pulled from the trees off the side of the highway that didn’t resemble much of anything, much less an automobile. 

News of Dunn’s untimely demise draws a stark contrast to the more common Hollywood DUI news report, most of which have something to do with a troubled young starlet taking the mystery out of her nether regions by accidentally exposing them to the paparazzi on her way into a low-slung sports car moments before being arrested for DUI and possession of party drugs.

Glittery misters and mistresses of the tinsel town clubbing scene get away with the same sort of deadly gamble that killed Dunn and his friend more often than not. Consider a similar situation to Dunn’s that could have ended just as badly but was swept under the attention-deficit rug of public news for the sake of future popcorn summer blockbusters: 

SHIA LABEOUF

In July of 2008, Labeouf rolled his Ford F-150 after a wild night out on the town. The Huffington Post Reported of his exploits: 

“'He was dancing around and acting really crazy,' the source tells Us. 'He kept doing shots of whiskey.'”

“'He stayed until the band was done and then stumbled out of the club by himself,' the witness reported.”

Shortly thereafter LaBeouf attempted to make a left turn in his F-150 and collided with another vehicle, rolling the truck over. His ultra-fine Transformers co-star, Isabel Lucas, 23, was LaBeouf’s passenger when the accident occurred, a source told Us. (1)

“It was immediately apparent to officers responding on the scene that LaBeouf was intoxicated and he was subsequently placed under arrest,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Wolf said. (2)

LaBeouf took the DUI in stride and went on to star in a number of terrible films, painting a damaging misrepresentation of what a DUI entails for the common citizen, not to mention the true evils of driving while intoxicated. 

Why should any of these ramblings mater to you? In Washington State, as in most states, police hand out DUI’s like hotcakes. Bearing that in mind, the average cost of a DUI in the Evergreen State can range from $5,000-$10,000 and beyond. 

That total estimates the cost of a decent lawyer, court fees, an ignition interlock device and horrendous increases in auto insurance and more. 

It doesn’t include the possible loss of employment, a permanent blemish on your record that can effect credit approval, background checks, residency applications, future job applications, not to mention the incalculable cost of the social and emotional repercussions of being royally screwed by what some would characterize as a cash-cow crime of the state. 

A friend of mine who asked to be referred to as Maury, had the disturbingly common misfortune of being charged with a DUI in the state of Washington. He’s gracing my blog as the first person to ever ask me to be interviewed. 

Please continue to Part II to read the conversation. 

RIP Ryan. You were a funny guy.

PART II: http://tinyurl.com/3te5bob


Sources:

(1) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/07/27/shia-labeouf-dui-arrest-a_n_115205.html
(2) http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/25873653/ns/today-entertainment/t/shia-labeouf-arrested-drunk-driving/
Picture: Arrivealive.com

Gimme the Gig II hits Seattle

 

Do you like driving through magical forests, live music, karaoke, and not paying a dime for any of the three? Well sir, your odd mix of tastes will be satisfied this weekend at Ford’s “Gimme the Gig II” in Seattle. 

Three stories of the 1st and Columbia Parking garage will be converted to house the family event designed to showcase independent music, sell Ford Focuses and entertain with unique attractions. From the press release:

“Two test-drive tracks will let drivers experience taking a Focus through an enchanted forest AND a friendly suburban neighborhood, where they might interact with unicorns, fairies and – GULP! – a motorcycle cop.”

That sounds like a potentially bad trip. Luckily the event is affiliated with ultra-cool Grammy-Award winning producer Don Was, known for his work with musical legends such as the Rolling Stones and Bonnie Raitt to his current project with John Mayer and American Idol. 

Three lucky bands or musicians that win the eight-month competition will get to record a track with Was in a 2012 Ford Focus:

“Galpin Auto Sports (of ‘Pimp My Ride’ fame) are helping us turn the all-new 2012 Ford Focus into our personal mobile mixing board. The car is loaded with such features as a Premium 10-Speaker Audio System powered by 355 Watts, and specially designed features to keep road noise outside and the music inside.”

Bands performing live at the event will include last year’s Gimme the Gig winner Perry Acker (of Gig Harbor), Sap’n, The Royal Bear, Doxology, Carson Henley, Fill the Silence, In Cahoots, and Meal Frog.

Social media fun will be available via a Focus Flash photo booth (with rock n’ roll costumes and props) and a karaoke music stage. Both experiences can be taped and uploaded to Facebook. 

If Gimme the Gig II arouses a hunger for even more car-related family fun, live music and the like, The Greenwood Car Show falls on the same weekend and is only short jaunt from the 1st and Columbia Garage. Learn more at:

www.gimmethegig.com 
www.greenwoodcarshow.com

Piture:
www.gimmethegig.com 

Local drifting scene a real hoot

 

You may have seen car drifting on television or played a drifting-themed video game. In Kent, Washington, young average Joes that don’t mind burning through pairs of rear tires like a fat man tears through a six-egg omelet gather at Pacific Grand Prix Motorsports Park to do just that. 

“It’s a great way to release stress if you’re in it for fun,” said local drift artist, Tom. 
“It’s just honestly a f*****’ blast. It is just absolutely fun.”

Tom is a good man of Polish descent, hence the insignia on his 1992 Nissan 240 SX’s windshield, “Polish Tom”. He has no formal drifting credentials, no business card or professional affiliations, but he can drift his 240 SX around the PGP track with impressive control and unique style. 

“All you gotta do is kick the clutch pedal and that’ll put a brake, bring up the engine RPMs, and then suddenly you release so it brings the back end out,” he explained, “Otherwise you can just rip on the e-brake and give it gas from there. Basically you want to be able to get the car to break the rear end loose and hold it loose while maintaining traction in the front so you can still steer, and that’s pretty much it”.

Being in control while out of control is the name of the game. The heavy smell of burnt rubber and clutch envelopes the track like heavy Los Angeles smog from the near constant banshee drone of smoking tires. 

A sign hung on the chain-link fence that divides the pedestrian entryway from a sharp button-turn at the end of one of the track’s straightaways warns spectators they’re at risk of being struck down by flying debris from the raceway. Several feet to the left of the sign is another that advertises the onsite children’s play structure positioned precariously at the apex of the button-turn.

On the average sunny day at the track Tom will completely destroy at least four pairs of rear tires in his Nissan, an impressive feat considering the thrifty ride is a far cry from a brawny burnout machine and has no major modifications besides weight reductions and a stiffened suspension. 

Out on the track the spectrum of cars screaming in dissident harmony is a mixed bag of homemade machines that look like they just rolled off the set of a Mad Max movie:

Ford Mustang

Nissan Z

Mazda Miata 

Subaru Impreza

Honda S-200

80’s Datsun station wagon

BMW M Series

Etc, etc, etc.

Of the mix, Nissan 240s such as Tom’s and Toyota Corolla’s are the most common types of cars at the track; they’re cheap and easy to build for drifting. If one of them flies into a wall or bounces off of a fellow drifter mid-turn it’s not a big deal. 

In the pits, zip-ties are common tools for reattaching body parts. When that won’t suffice there’s generally another pit within earshot that’s willing to gift a compatible part. If time is of the essence requests can be expedited up the race tower for broadcast over the announcer’s speaker system:

“Collin Westin needs an S-13 tie-rod,” if anyone has one please bring it to pit number eight”. 

“Does anyone have a length of radiator hose they can spare? They need to cool down in pit twelve”. 

Domestic lager beer and Corona are available for purchase from a cooler positioned behind a folding table, but few people are drinking. Most purchase a pit pass for an extra $10 and congregate near the cars with a group of friends, one of which is generally a guy such as Tom that has a car he’s brought to drift in sessions that run from early afternoon until dusk. 

During the giddy downtime between explosive bouts of drifting, pit supporters are inevitably divided into groups of crack-mechanics and girlfriends. Undercutting the jovial mood, a sense of sharp urgency is always present. 

As in most pits, Tom’s trusty crew of pals is nearly outnumbered by spare tires stacked atop each other like dark kamikaze Michelin men awaiting their first and final mission. 
During these fateful times, a fresh pair of rubber is bolted to the rear of the 240, whatever repairs can be made to the car are performed, and for reasons known only to Tom, he hands a spare helmet to one lucky person who will ride shotgun with him during the next session.

A friend of mine from the Coast Guard whose sailor’s thirst for the hops led him to imbibe in several aluminum-bottled beers had the heavy helmet dropped into his hands during the second to last session of the day. I handed him my portable camera with instructions to capture the experience. Watch the footage in new videos and here:

http://tinyurl.com/3fslhph


You may have noticed what a flippin’ blast that appeared to be. To learn more about attending such events in person, visit www.pacificgp.com

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About this blog

Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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