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.

20 replies on “Montclair Makes Prime Time Tonight”

  1. Did any of the Church Street store keepers know what was going on? Apparantly ABC rigged up the street with hidden cameras? Was the city reimbured by ABC news for tying up the PD’s services?

  2. Interesting experiment. But I kind of agree with the police…Call the police rather than get yourself in a mess personally.
    I took a woman’s keys once outside a bar. She was slurring, stumbling and could not get the key into the ignition, let alone drive. But when I took her keys, she slapped me in the face and pushed me, then locked herself inside.
    She ended up tearing away and who knows what happened after that. But I found myself questioning how far I’d go in that situation again.

  3. The last time ABC tried that, they set up outside of Whole Foods and the entire cast and crew were run over by Lexus SUVs whose drivers were trying to find a parking place.

  4. Once when I was slurring and stumbling I took a woman’s keys when I pushed & locked her in the trunk. She tried to slap me in the face but the duct tape worked. She was tearing away and what didn’t happen after that! But I found myself questioning how far I’d go in that situation again. No the city wasn’t reimbured for my tying up the PD’s sevices.

  5. I walked right by the team as ABC filmed. You can find me zooming past, ignoring it all. I was surprised to see me on a WGN News preview this morning.
    Why did I know this was a set-up? I just saw it and left. Call me irresponsible….

  6. This is somewhat pointless in my opinion. I’d like to see the experiment conducted outside of a bar or franchise off Rt 46, 22 or 17 at 2am to see if anyone else in the parking lot (also drunk) gives a sh1t?
    Just senseless media..

  7. Many years ago, I was at a stop light with a date. In a car next to us, a couple were fighting, loudly, and seemed to begin getting physical. My date said something to them in effect of “take it easy”. Immediately BOTH of them turned on him and yelled at him to mind his own business.
    Perhaps ABC should have staged it like it might actually happen, then ask what would you do?
    Senseless media for sure.

  8. All you have to do is stand outside any bar anywhere, especially in rural areas, and you’ll see dozens of sloshed people getting into cars.

  9. I flit by really fast holding a coffee cup and looking thoroughly bored with the obviously phony scene.

  10. “Who gets drunk in broad daylight on Church Street? Where’s the baR?”
    What kind of idiotic question is that? You imply bars don’t open until the sun goes down? And liquor stores neither? Durr DUHHH…..

  11. South Park…yes!!! Give me my Cheezy Puffs (Season One)…Oh, no, we weren’t talking about the TV show. How obtuse!

  12. I guess the ABC producers didn’t realize that there very few liquor licenses in Montclair, and by the way, that there are no Gracious Homes stores here either (the shopping bags the actors were carrying).

  13. Thank you Tara-
    I was wondering what was on those shopping bags. I’m guessing ABC didn’t do much research into the area.

  14. So one night in New Hampshire this guy comes rolling out of the Mad River Tavern, knowing full well that officer Tracy (Dickless Tracy to those who truly knew him) was out and about on ASAP (Alcohol Safety Awareness) Patrol. Stumbling through the parking lot, sliding on the snow and ice, he tried to open his car door, but was having a lot of trouble getting his key into the lock, mainly because he was trying to open the rear door. Discovering his mistake, he let himself into the driver’s seat, and warmed up the vehicle. By now, officer Tracy was parked behind the bank across the road and down about ½ mile, just inside the Campton town line. It was one of his favorite poaching sites. After warming up the vehicle, the driver set off down the Campton road at about 15 miles an hour, no problem in rural New Hampshire at 1:30 AM. No traffic anyway. He passed the bank and, weaving slightly but still on his side of the road, he proceeded to drive toward his house. Tracy was out of the bank lot in a shot, all lights blinking and flashing (tell me why cops love that so). He pulled the dude over in front of the post office and walked up to the car. “License and registration, please. Have you been drinking?” No answer. Tracy walked back to his cruiser and ran the license through the New Hampshire, then the national, driver license database. No hits. He then ran the name through the criminal database looking for outstanding warrants. Nada. He went back to the car and asked the dude to step out where he gave him a full battery of field sobriety tests, all of which the driver passed – barely. By now Tracy was a little upset because the dude had said absolutely nothing, but Tracy had seen him stagger across the lot and knew he had to be drunk, stoned, or some combination or both, which is the preferred New Hampshire way. He called for backup, and when Trooper Hooper of the NH State Police arrived, Tracy arrested the dude and took him to the police station in Waterville Valley, 10 miles away, where they had the latest and greatest breathalyzer. The dude blew 0.00. There were no drugs to be found on him, and Tracy didn’t want to transport him all the way to the hospital in Plymouth for a blood test for drugs. Finally, he stared at the dude and asked what the hell was going on. “Well,” my good friend Terry replied, “I guess you might just call me the designated decoy.”

  15. Just a quick comment on the shopping bags from stores outside Montclair. It didn’t seem to matter to the people who stepped up and got involved. I transported plenty of holiday gifts in bags from all over. The important thing is that people in Montclair don’t ignore potential problems and their actions on the ABC show speak well of this town and the great people here.

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