Monday, August 25, 2014


Police Officers in most places have the authority to order driver's license retests on people whose driving skills the officer feels have declined enough to make them a safety concern. These are very thorough retests, and many people lose their driving privileges as a result. I have always used this authority very sparingly, because I don't want to needlessly jeopardize someone's freedom to get around on their own. A few instances come to mind:

An elderly woman who pulled out in front of a speeding ambulance with its lights and siren going, as I looked on in horror. The ambulance was miraculously able to swerve around her at the last second. She claimed she didn't see or hear the ambulance (one of those big box-shaped ones with like a million lights on it), so I thought she probably should get retested.

A diabetic guy who, in his third such incident, let his blood glucose get too low and hit three parked cars over about 8 blocks, then slammed full-speed into the back of a city bus that was stopped, discharging passengers. When I arrived, his car was on fire, he was conscious but unresponsive, and I had to bust his window and drag him out of the car. Retest.

Then there was the guy who rear-ended another car while speeding through a construction zone. He was pretty obviously impaired, but blew zeroes on my breath test. His sobriety tests were all over the map - some OK, some terrible. He claimed to have had a stroke the previous weekend, and was on a bunch of meds for that. He could have been telling me the truth - what do I know from strokes? BUT, he was a total fucking asshole about the whole thing, blaming the other driver for stopping too quickly, and just generally giving me a hard time. So, I didn't charge him with DWI, but wrote him for reckless driving. And, since he had that stroke and has to take so many meds that they cause him to crash into stuff and then be a total prick, RETEST. Have fun with that!


Anonymous said...

Dear Officer Cynical (and every other officer out there who does this):

Thank you for making the decision to have these individuals retest for their license. In doing so, you're protecting the rest of us (and our children) from potential harm, injury, and heartbreak at the hands of people who should probably not be driving.

Struck by a Turtle said...

Retest them all!!

Anonymous said...

I wish that the cops could retest elderly people when their families call. My grandfather would not stop driving. He desperately needed a retest, not just a regular test because he "passed" his driving test but they didn't actually test him, he just renewed his license. He drove over a trash can that had 40 pounds of rock salt in it, it got trapped under the car and he had no idea he hit anything let alone had something trapped. That 40 pound can was a tall and narrow can, not unlike a small child. Many small children roam our neighborhood. He would go to the store and come back with all sorts of scrapes and dents to his car. It was truly fucking scary. We called the DMV and the cops and they said that sadly there's nothing they can do unless his doctor writes a note. His idiot doctor wouldn't do it because when he did his patients stopped going to the doctor. He was in the beginning stages of his diabetes becoming brittle so sit was starting to be uncontrollable.

It took him another 2 scary years before he'd give up driving. He only did so when his car gave up the ghost and he didn't want to bother to learn a new car. I wish that for anyone over, say, 75 whose family calls for a retest, they should be required to get one.

Madaline Chance said...

Everyone over 70 should be retested.

WarmSocks said...

Oh, how I wish you'd stop my mom and order that retest. My brothers and I can't figure out why her eye doctor keeps signing the form that says she can see. She can't even see well enough to read her speedometer, and uses a huge magnifying glass on everything she does need to see. Also, she insists that if there's no speed limit sign, the limit is 35, and even showing her the page in the state driver's guide won't convince her that driving 35 on a 50mph county road is dangerous to everyone.