Former Police Officer Tim Stone doesn’t look like the kind of cop you want to get pulled over by when you’ve been drinking deep in Tennessee.
But you’d be wrong, because Stone feels your pain. He understands that the BAC is just a number and it’s each individual’s tolerance for alcohol that determines how ably you can drive a vehicle after ingesting alcohol. The Breathalyser, he asserts, is a very fallible device that can be fooled by an act as innocent as eating peanuts.
Just as many judges feel they have lost their power to actually judge people due to mandatory minimum-sentencing laws, many police officers secretly feel that the BAC has taken away their ability to use common sense and personal judgment on a case-by-case basis when it comes to who can and cannot safely operate a vehicle.
It was this frustration which spurned Stone, while still on the force, to release a video entitled: How to Avoid a DUI. The 50 minute video tells you exactly how to avoid falling prey to unfair drinking laws, all told from the point of view of the guy who’s supposed to arrest you.
The video was met, unsurpisingly, with a firestorm of controversy. MADD and its agents in the media have tried very hard to make Stone appear a traitor at best and an accessory to every DUI accident on the road at worst.
It is our opinion, however, that Stone was and is nothing less than a modern day Serpico, an incorruptible and courageous idealist almost single-handedly fighting injustice from within a corrupted system.
Modern Drunkard Magazine: I’m pulled over by a police officer. I’ve had a few drinks. The officer is approaching my window. How should I behave?
Officer Tim Stone: The main thing is to remain calm. People get freaked out when they are pulled over, hell, I get freaked out when I’m pulled over. Relax. Roll down your window. Get your license, registration and insurance ready, it helps to keep all your paperwork in a clearly marked envelope in the glove box so you won’t have to dig around for it. Keep your hands on the wheel, or where the officer can see them. What you want to do is put the officer at ease. You want to bring him down a notch.
MDM: A cop once told me to not turn my head directly toward the officer, so he can’t smell my breath.
OTS: That’s a good idea, but you definitely want to make eye contact. I’d hold my head at a slight angle away from the officer, but not directly toward the windshield.
MDM: Should a driver ever submit to a Breathalyser?
OTS: Here’s the rule of thumb on that: You can exercise your rights and refuse at any time. If you know you’re over the legal limit, which most people won’t know, I wouldn’t do it. Why give evidence against yourself? That’s like robbing a bank and sending the police department a note a week ahead of time saying so.
MDM: The Attorney General of Wisconsin (Peg Lautenschlager) was recently cited for DUI and she refused the blood test. Does she know something we don’t?
OTS: Yes, she does. She knew she was probably over the limit and was being smart about it. If I was stopped for a DUI, I wouldn’t walk, I wouldn’t talk, I wouldn’t do anything that’s going to help that officer articulate in his report that you are intoxicated. You will be arrested, but you have to buck up and play the game. I don’t believe in that implied consent crap, it’s blackmail. I’d rather lose my license for a year than get a DUI charge.
MDM: Quite a few government officials, some very pro-MADD, have been cited for DUI. Why does that happen?
OTS: They’re human. They’re going to take their chances, they’re going to roll the bones.
MDM: I think they’re willing to pass harsh DUI laws then break them because they believe they’re above the law, that they can talk their way out of it if they do get pulled over.
OTS: Most certainly, though it really depends on the officer. A lot of them get away with it all the time. A person with political power has a real good opportunity to scare that officer. If you are a police officer, or at any level of law enforcement, you are in a political game whether you like it or know it or not. And if you arrest that person, you have to think, what is this going to do to my future? It’s wrong, but it’s reality. I once worked in a small town as a police officer and the mayor was a known drunk. There were officers who caught him , but instead of arresting him, they’d follow him home. They catered to him. I never believed in that. I figured if your were making the laws, you were held to a higher standard.
MDM: What’s your take on roadside sobriety checkpoints? Do you think they’re constitutional?
OTS: No, I don’t. I believe that’s a violation of the Fourth Amendment.
MDM: What is it about current DUI laws that you are unhappy with? What would you change?
OTS: Personally, I feel that new methods should be created to determine accurate intoxication levels on the side of the road, and that first offenses near or at the legal limit should be simply given a citation with a significant fine, their car towed, and then be given the opportunity to take a taxi or call a friend to pick them up.
MDM: Where would you like to see the BAC at?
OTS: Well, if we must have BAC-based laws, I’d say .10. However, I believe BAC-based laws should be eliminated. We need to work harder to find new ways for law enforcement to accurately determine the intoxication and control level of a DUI suspect. The numbered BAC system is simply a line in the sand by which we judge people, but it doesn’t take in to account individual tolerances, abilities, or physiology.
MDM: I’ve always favored “tolerance testing” where, if you can drive through an obstacle course with a .25 BAC, you get a special license. Would you vote for it?
OTS: Well, it’s an interesting concept, but I don’t think legislators would ever give such an idea a second thought. Unfortunately, it seems that maybe we’re headed in the opposite direction in which only people who can prove they don’t drink at all can get a license.
MDM: What do your fellow officers think of you making this tape?
OTS: Many of the officers who saw the video had a positive reaction. In fact, I was assisted by other departments and officers in my research for the video, and some contributed to the writing of the content for the video. Most could see the benefit in it as an educational tool. However, we are not without critics in the law enforcement community. Though most who criticize the video have never seen it.
MDM: Did you expect to get such a negative response from the mainstream media and MADD?
OTS: Most definitely. I expected a general knee-jerk reaction, especially from MADD. MADD is opposed to any multimedia that doesn’t promote prohibition or abstinence. They often fail to look at the core root of the problem, which is often inadequate or poor information to casual drinkers. They consistently fail to develop programs which could better educate law enforcement. These two things could positively and effectively work to improve the situation, but MADD would rather just point the “just say no” finger.
MDM: What’s MADD so mad about?
OTS: Well, if I was given a $50,000,000 annual budget to be mad with, I’d be mad all the time too. Wouldn’t you?
MDM: The way it looks to me, I don’t think MADD will stop until they attain total and complete prohibition.
OTS: MADD is an animal, a machine that has went past the point of no return. It’s a monster that has to keep eating. If it doesn’t it’ll die. Candy Lightner (the deposed founder of MADD) said it best. She said MADD is a neoprohibitionist movement that has lost its focus. That should be put on every billboard in the country.
MDM: MADD is slowly editing Lightner out of the history of the organization.
OTS: They kicked her out because she wasn’t for dropping the BAC to .08. She felt it wasn’t warranted. By then there were so many people involved, they saw that if they didn’t push for .08 they were going to lose money and their foothold. The have to keep lowering laws, they have to keep kicking the average citizen’s ass to stay on Capitol Hill. The have to tighten that noose every year to make it look like they’re new and improved. When people start waking up and see what MADD’s all about, once their hidden agendas are exposed, MADD is going to lose face value with the average citizen.
MDM: I recently read that MADD skims about $2,000,000 a year from the fees DUI offenders pay to attend mandatory Victim Impact Panels. It’s no wonder why they want to keep dropping the BAC. It’s good for business.
OTS: Oh yeah. The DUI machine is a multi-billion dollar operation, when you look at all facets of it.
MDM: It has always amazed me how willing MADD is to twist statistics. The definition of what an “alcohol-related accident” is, for example.
OTS: You and I could be driving down the road completely sober and have a friend in the back seat who’s inebriated, and if we crashed and killed everybody, they’d put that down as alcohol-related fatalities. If a young male gets in a crash between midnight and 4am, whether there’s alcohol involved or not, it’s plugged in by NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) as alcohol-related. They want these statistics to stay inflated because NHTSA has to have their grant money. They’re all in bed together.
MDM: Has being MADD’s villain of the month helped you sell tapes?
OTS: I don’t think so. I think most people who buy the video are simply smart enough to take the time to know their rights and to learn more about the subject of DUI. Every casual drinker should take the time to learn about what they are up against every time they decide to drink and drive, so that they might be better prepared and more aware of themselves and how they fit into the DUI question.
MDM: Do you think it’s fair making a police officer civilly liable if he lets a DUI suspect go?
OTS: No. I believe a law enforcement officer is an asset to the community, because it takes special people to take on the job of protecting the public. It’s a dangerous job. I further feel that federal, state, and local government should do everything they can do to educate, train and protect the officer, so they can make the best decisions. Which means the government should always be the shield of those assets, and should protect them from any such liability. Unfortunately, officers are usually limited by the education and training provided to them. With limited training these officers are asked to make life-altering decisions. The best defense law enforcement has is education.
MDM: How long can you milk the “mouth alcohol level” thing? Can I burp, cough or vomit every 15 minutes for a few hours and thus delay the test until my BAC drops? (According to Tim’s Video a police officer must observe a DUI suspect for a total of 20 minutes before administering a Breathalyser to ensure that he did not “burp, cough or vomit.” This is so the Breathalyser will read the Blood Alcohol Content and not the “mouth alcohol level.”)
OTS: Well, yes, you will lower your BAC over time, but the officer is aware of this. Eventually he’ll opt for another test, such as the blood test.
MDM: Urban legend time—say you get pulled over and the first thing you do is pull your keys from the ignition and start chugging from a bottle of Jack Daniels in front of the officer. Is that a way to beat a DUI charge? Because how can he prove you weren’t totally sober before you started chugging?
OTS: If that’s your plan, then please, make sure you document the whole thing with a camcorder. Not only do I want to see what happens, but I’m sure you’re going to need it in court. Of course, I’d be happy to place a copy of that video on my website.
MDM: What drove you to make this video?
OTS: People asked me. Friends and people who I arrested for DUI. They wanted to know what exactly to do when they’re pulled over or arrested for DUI. I realized the general public had no idea about the subject and needed to know. A police officer who was angry about the video told me this: “One of the biggest tools that we have against the people is they don’t know their rights.” They’re preying on people that don’t know what’s going on.
MDM: And that’s where your video comes in.
OTS: Exactly. I understand that, despite any legislation, people are going to drink and drive. The best way to change things is through education. Most people only knew it was wrong. Of course, knowing it was wrong never stopped them from drinking and driving. They always assumed it wouldn’t happen to them, that DUI was something that happened to someone else.
MDM: What’s next for Tim Stone?
OTS: For those who didn’t buy the first video, we’re putting together a video about what to do after you’ve received a DUI.
—Interview by Tivoni Devor
To order a copy of Tim Stone’s video, click on the link below: