Would you stop a drunk stranger from driving? Tonight, watch what happens when Baristaville shoppers on Church Street are put to the test in a reality-prank staged and filmed by ABC’s Prime Time Basic Instincts. Chief of Police David Sabagh also gets an interview on national TV. We don’t want to spoil the story if you plan to watch; otherwise, read what went down after the jump.
“Primetime” tried the experiment with a woman playing the would-be drunk driver. An actress, Cecelia, was soon stopped by a good Samaritan named David.
“I really don’t think you should be drinking,” he said.
When Cecelia insisted that she was fine, David replied, “I understand, but I think you’ll be in an accident.”
“I think I’m just gonna go, just gonna go home,” Cecelia said, slurring her words.
David tried reasoning with her. “I don’t think that’s a good idea. First of all, you’ll get yourself hurt, and then you’re gonna be in an accident with somebody else as well.”
David was coming from the gym and didn’t have a cell phone. But that didn’t stop him. He assembled a team consisting of him and three more people. One called the police as David tried to block Cecelia from the driver’s door. They then took her gently by the arms and walked her over to a chair. John Quinones approached and told them no one was really in danger.
David said he believed that drunk driving is everyone’s business.
“Just look at this young child going by,” he said “He could have been hit by her if she was really drunk.”
It didn’t seem to make a difference if the actor was a man or a woman. But would people react differently if the drunk was with young children?
The responses did indeed seem markedly different. People reacted more quickly and much more urgently. When Cecelia tried to get in the car with two little girls, a group of people gathered around to intervene almost immediately. They got hold of her keys and ignored her when she asked for them back.
The man who took the keys, Jerry, was a drug and alcohol counselor. He said that he wouldn’t have given the keys back to Cecelia “under any circumstances.”
“I would have given them to a police officer. I would not have given them to her,” he said.
But is that the right thing to do?
David Sabagh, the chief of police in Montclair, N.J., said that holding on to a drunk driver’s keys when the driver asks for them back may not always be the best idea.
“We don’t want to see anybody putting themselves at risk,” he said. “You don’t want to risk a life to save a life. You don’t know who you’re dealing with, quite frankly, and you don’t want them to become violent or boisterous. You want to make sure not to harm yourself.”
Sabagh recommended that if you can’t convince the person not to drive, then step back and try to distract the driver until the police arrive. But if that doesn’t work, be an attentive witness: Take down the license plate number, call 911 and give police detailed information about the driver. And remember those good Samaritans the next time you see someone tipsy about to get into a car.