The thing about a pool of blood that most people don't understand or appreciate, is that if it's still enough and if you're not too busy to notice it, they smell. They smell like a sweet kind of iron - at least for a little while, until they coagulate and become like jelly. I've encountered this many times at the scene of an 'accident', and while I've had a chance to think about what had happened only a short time before I arrived.
The mangled metal, the oil, the shards of glass and plastic - they all tell a tale of sorts. They speak plainly of the physical forces involved in a collision between vehicles, and the sight of mangled wreckage tends to make us wince and say things like "Ouch!" or "That's gonna leave a mark!". Few of us, however, see the blood on the road or spattered around the interior of the car. Few of us notice small amounts of brain matter lying on the asphalt before it is hosed away by street maintenance or the fire department. Even fewer of us have to help pick up the pieces (either literally or figuratively) following traumatic events. But some of us do - every day. They know the true stories behind cars and trucks hitting each other.
They know about the scourge that is intoxicated drivers.
In Canada - in my part of Canada, at least - drink driving is looked upon, even now, as a kind of foolish misdemeanour, the kind of thing we consider to be 'naughty' without actually being out-and-out bad. Most people would probably disapprove of it if they were asked, but a great many - a very great many - still do it, especially when they feel justified, or if they feel like it's unlikely that they will be caught. "No big fucken deal, right?"
The message about drink driving is not new. It's not hard to understand, either. What seems to override it, however - this message that drinking and driving is proven to be a potentially lethal behaviour - is the idea that we are somehow entitled to do it anyway. I don't know where that idea comes from, but then since I was a young man I've known what the results can be. I've stared at the gory interior of a wrecked car, I've hosed and brushed blood and brains off the road, and I've passed the dreadful messages of death to unsuspecting relatives, so maybe it's easier for me to understand the reasons behind the rules. Having said that, surely it isn't too hard to get your head around the idea, even if you've not seen the kind of thing that paramedics, police and firefighters see on a daily basis? Apparently, though, it is.
When dealing with stupidity (and a failure to recognize the dangers of drink driving definitely falls into that category - as, in fact, does most criminal activity), one of the ways to try to prevent harm is to create laws which protect the innocent. Here, we have adequate laws to punish drivers for drinking and driving. However...
Bear in mind, I've witnessed this first hand...after having failed a street sobriety test, the process for bringing a person into the detachment and having them blow into a machine to supply a specimen of breath for analysis can take up to two and a half hours. Throughout that time, the driver can never be left alone, and officers are forced to make copious notes about the person's movements and behaviour throughout their time in the building. Otherwise, lawyers will somehow successfully assert that their clients' rights have been usurped, and the facts (the drinking and driving part) may very well be thrown out of court. Compare that with the tried and tested and refined process in the United Kingdom, which sees cooperative drivers in and out of the building within thirty minutes on a good day.
The system in BC has been systematically ruined by defence lawyers, reduced to a barely practical process which ties up police resources for a hugely disproportionate length of time. This means that few drivers end up being put through this process, instead being issued with short-term roadside prohibitions. It's a watered-down form of justice, the blame for which lies squarely at the feet of the legal profession. Police officers trying to do their jobs simply don't have the time to spend hours on a single process which has been bastardized by the lawyers and their ludicrous arguments created merely to obfuscate the truth of the matter: that their client was driving while drunk (somehow that always seems to get lost in the arguments). It's a process which takes six or seven times as long as it would do to place a person in custody for assault, theft or a sex crime. Think about that, and what it means for the state of justice. Think also on the undeniable truth that everyone who gets caught for drink driving will feel hard done by. They will sound off to their friends about the fucken cops and the injustice of it all, and their friends will drink up and nod and yell their support and curse the cops some more. Think about this the next time you hear a conversation about someone whose so-called entitlements were so terribly affronted by being caught breaking the law.
Most of all, however, think about the pool of coagulating blood on the road, and hope that it never belongs to you or someone that you love.