LETTER: To the Intoxicated Driver from New Year’s Eve

Publishers Note:  This Letter to the Editor was submitted and ran in the Flathead Beacon on 01-04-13.

You and I met at about 1:30 a.m. on New Year’s Eve. I was waiting in line for a taxi in downtown Whitefish. You were slumped over the steering wheel of your running vehicle at the corner of East First Street and Central Avenue. It took a minute to realize what was about to happen – and then I ran over and checked if you were about to drive somewhere.

As it turns out, you were. You put your Chevy in gear when I approached your car. You rolled your window down and all I could smell was booze. Your passenger’s glassy eyes showed that he was drunker than you. I told you that I’m not leaving and to shut your car off before you kill somebody. You opened your door, cussed at me and told me I didn’t know how important you are in the town of Whitefish. I repeated that I wasn’t going anywhere and to shut the car off. You asked where I was from, and I told you I was from Canada.

Your passenger told you to shut the car off. So you did. Then you told me that since you know every police officer in the town, I’m not going to be successful in reporting you. I said let’s find an officer because I need to tell them what’s happening. So you did.

The officers certainly appeared to know you and weren’t concerned that you were shoeless and about to drive. They calmly told you to go find a sober driver. You tripped trying to walk away to find your sober friend.

Your sober friend came back and told my wife and me that we did the right thing tonight. Even got a high five from him. I agreed and repeated that we’re just trying to prevent one of the hundreds on Central Avenue from getting run over by a drunk.

I assume you don’t remember your closing words from that evening. Part of me hopes that you woke up on Jan. 1 not remembering any of this. The other part thinks that with your perception that driving drunk is acceptable and not for some tourists to intervene, I think you’re a lost cause. Your closing words after swearing at my wife: “Go back to Canada.”

I hope that you and your passengers made it home safe.

Graham Halsall
Calgary, Alberta